Friday, May 13, 2011

USS Robert G. Bradley Departs Casablanca

By Ensign Sean McMahon, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

CASABLANCA, Morocco (NNS) -- USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) departed Casablanca, Morocco, after completing a theater security cooperation visit, May 11.

While in Casablanca, Robert G. Bradley hosted a reception aboard the ship, participated in a community relations (COMREL) project, and trained a Moroccan visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team.

Sailors were given the opportunity to tour Casablanca, and experience the Moroccan culture. Seventeen Robert G. Bradley Sailors were involved in a COMREL where they painted classrooms and repaired school desks.

"The COMREL project in Casablanca was very rewarding for Robert G. Bradley Sailors," said Chief Logistics Specialist Ed Lafond, Robert G. Bradley's COMREL coordinator. "The Moroccan primary school's teachers and students were very enthusiastic upon our arrival and treated our Sailors well."

After leaving Casablanca, Robert G. Bradley participated in a passing exercise with Moroccan Naval vessel, Hassen II. This gave the VBSS team members from both nations a chance for some very important at-sea training.

"The maritime interdiction operations boarding events that were conducted with Hassan II today, brought forward a great opportunity to work with a partner nation," said Lt. j.g. Jim Carles, USS Robert G. Bradley VBSS boarding officer. "It expanded both navies' [VBSS] capabilities and was a good opportunity to work with one another prior to the Phoenix Express exercise in June."

Robert G. Bradley, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Fla., and is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. Naval Forces Africa area of responsibility.

Three retired Guard members enter Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor Sunday

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders will honor retired Brig. Gen. James Daley of Janesville, Wis., retired Maj. Lynn Rasmussen of Madison, Wis., and retired Command Chief Warrant Officer William Richardson of Middleton, Wis., as they join the prestigious Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor during an induction ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday (May 15), in Witmer Hall at Joint Force Headquarters, 2400 Wright Street, Madison.

Daley enlisted in the Marines in 1966, earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart during a 1967-68 tour in Vietnam. He attended Officer Candidate School in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1977 and subsequently held a number of deputy and director positions, including director of personnel and administration for the state area command. He commanded the 32nd Infantry Brigade from 1998-2001 and again from 2002-03, serving as assistant adjutant general for readiness and training from 2001-02. Following a six-month active duty assignment as a senior transformation analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Daley finished his military career as assistant adjutant general for the Joint Staff and commander of the state Joint Task Force.

Rasmussen enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1975 and was assigned to the 132nd Support Battalion. She attended Officer Candidate School in 1979, and served in various company and battalion roles such as platoon leader, company commander, personnel, logistics and maintenance management. She completed her Active Guard and Reserve tour in 1990 and retired as a Major from the Wisconsin National Guard in 1995. Rasmussen has received numerous civilian awards regarding her work with the Department of Military Affairs.

Richardson enlisted as a Marine in 1966 and served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps Band - the President's Own. Subsequently joining the Wisconsin National Guard's 132nd Army Band, Richardson was appointed as bandmaster in 1977 at the rank of warrant officer 1. He led the band through numerous governor's inaugurations and other official celebrations, improving the band's performance and reputation as well as bringing credit and recognition to the Wisconsin National Guard. He culminated his career as the state Command Chief Warrant Officer from 2002-03.

They will join the ranks of 43 individuals who have brought great credit to the state of Wisconsin and to the Wisconsin Army National Guard since the inception of the Hall of Honor 10 years ago. Inductees are chosen by a special committee of current and past Guard Soldiers, based on exceptional achievement, devotion to duty and embodiment of the Army's core values - duty, honor, service, respect, loyalty, integrity and personal courage.

Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of Wisconsin, and Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin Army National Guard commander, will lead the induction. Attendees include family and friends of the inductees as well as current and retired Guard members.

Face of Defense: Soldier Aids Wounded Warriors

By Army Capt. Ozzie Santiago Smith III
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

NORTH SHORE, Hawaii, May 12, 2011 – People run grueling 26-mile marathons for all kinds of reasons -- for a personal challenge, because they're competitive, or maybe because it's just a great way to stay physically fit.

However, Army Staff Sgt. Marc Dibernardo pounds pavement because he wants to honor the service of his fallen comrades and to support the nation’s wounded warriors.

A member of E Company, 2-25th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Dibernardo runs to raise cash for the support and recovery of wounded warriors, and he's been running donned in shorts, shoes, t-shirt -- and gas mask -- since 2003.

While he runs for all wounded warriors -- sailors, airmen, Marines and soldiers -- Dibernardo's participation in the North Shore Marathon on May 1, 2011, was in memory of 10 friends he’d lost in Afghanistan and those comrades who’d succumbed to their combat wounds when they’d returned stateside for advanced medical treatment.

After crossing the finish line, Dibernardo was unofficially informed he’d finished the course in 3 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds, breaking the previous world record by five minutes for an individual running a marathon in a gas mask.

Sponsored by Team Red, White and Blue, a non-profit organization that aids wounded warriors by sponsoring extreme athletes, Dibernardo helps the team with a unique support system for veterans, families and friends recovering from injuries received during combat operations.

Donations raised by the team are used to fund the reintegration of wounded warriors back into civilian society.

"The fallen and wounded warriors are the heroes. I'm not a hero. They're heroes," Dibernardo said. "This is the best way I know how to let the world know about the sacrifices being made by our soldiers."

Members of Dibernardo’s chain of command rally behind him.

"I'm very proud of him. It's an outstanding thing what he's doing and a great reason why he's doing it," said Army 1st Sgt. Henry Wood.

"I'm really proud of him it's incredible what he is doing running a marathon and in a gas mask, said Army Capt. Lindsay Maples, Dibernardo’s company commander. “We let him do his own training during physical fitness time.”

Eye Clinic Restores Sight, Hope for Malawians

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

LILONGWE, Malawi, May 12, 2011 – Few memories from a medical exercise that wraps up here today stand out so vividly for a team of Army ophthalmologists than the moment when an elderly cataract-surgery patient danced with joy when the bandages were removed from her face.

It was a high point among almost two weeks of high points, said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Darrell “Casey” Carlton, assistant officer-in-charge for the eye clinic at the Lions Sight First Eye Hospital here.

“There is nothing quite so gratifying as that moment when the bandages come off and the patients realize they can see,” Carlton said. “It’s a life-changing change for them.”

Life-changing events like this became the norm during a medical readiness education and training exercise conducted here in tandem with U.S. Army Africa’s MEDREACH 11 mission. That mission, featuring medical training exchanges between U.S. and Malawi Defense Force members, included three medical and dental outreach clinics that delivered care to the Malawian people.

The eye clinic was a smaller effort, conducted by the only active-duty military members among about 100 U.S. MEDREACH participants. But for the 308 patients who received cataract surgery as of yesterday, and as many as 50 expected to have surgeries today, the impact was beyond words.

Cataract surgery candidates in Malawi aren’t like those in the United States, where patients tend to see an eye doctor at the onset of a problem, Carlton explained. In Lilongwe, he said, many Malawian patients have advanced cataracts, with the lenses of their eyes clouded over almost to the point of blindness.

Larry Grandorff, a civilian Defense Department nurse here from Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Wash., made a rundown of the patients the eye team had treated. One-third had only light perception. One-third could discern nothing more than a hand waving in front of their faces. And only one-third could count the number of fingers held up before them.

Treating these patients with advanced cataracts is a relatively simple procedure that averages about 30 minutes, start to finish, said Army Col. (Dr.) Bill Wilson, a Walter Reed Army Medical Center ophthalmologist serving as officer-in-charge of the eye clinic here.

Using a “tunneled” procedure that reduces the need for post-operative care, doctors achieve extraordinary successes without the need for a lot of high-tech equipment, he said.

Carlton, who noted he might conduct seven or eight cataract surgeries on a particularly busy day at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., marveled at the team’s efficiency and output.

“We’re averaging 50 patients a day,” he said. “You can compare that to a busy civilian practice that might have a little more than 20 a day.”

Among yesterday’s patients was 78-year-old Valentino Kachindamoto. He climbed up onto the table as Army Maj. (Dr.) Charles Redger, an anesthesiologist from Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Wash., numbed the area for surgery. With advanced cataracts in both eyes that enabled him to see little more than hand motion, Kachindamoto was scheduled for two surgeries: one yesterday and one today.

“I can’t tell you how unbelievably fulfilling it is to be part of a team like this, with everyone doing whatever needs to be done to help these people,” Redger said. “Some of these patients have never seen their own grandchildren, and what we are doing is going to allow them to enjoy their grandchildren in a whole new way.”

“I get goose bumps just talking about it,” said Army Maj. (Dr.) Travis Frazier, another Madigan doctor screening candidates for cataract surgery. “Seeing them smile and dance -- it feels great knowing what a huge difference this is going to make. The impact that this is going to have on their lives is really hard to measure.”

Nurses trusted to care for our wounded warriors

By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs– May 11, 2011

Lt. Col. Rebecca Giese
Lead Nurse Case Manager, Wisconsin Army National Guard

Its National Nurses Week – celebrating nurses and all they do.  I’ve been a nurse for more than 20 years and while I enjoy all types of nursing, I am humbly honored to serve our wounded – the Soldiers who have given so much for our nation.

I’ve been a nurse case manager for wounded Soldiers since 2004 — first with the community-based Warrior transition unit, and then with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. There are currently six of us with Health System Services, or HSS, at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison. We work with Soldiers dealing with medical or mental health issues that affect their physical fitness, military performance and deployment status.After Soldiers are identified and assigned a case manager, we help gather medical documentation to generate military profiles that will give them the time and conditions to heal and prepare for Army physical fitness tests. We help coordinate care at VA hospitals, VA clinics and civilian health care providers covered by TRICARE, and we routinely provide emotional support and medical advice.

We’ve helped with thousands of issues and advocate for approximately 600 Soldiers on a regular basis who are having medical and/or mental health issues. We maintain contact with the Soldiers and their unit representatives to assist with their recovery. We help the state surgeon determine military retention eligibility, and we help Soldiers who no longer meet retention standards with their physical disability evaluation boards.

We do our part to ensure that our deploying Soldiers are as fit and healthy as they can be — they represent Wisconsin, and it’s our job to ensure their medical readiness. It’s gratifying to see units deploy overseas and do a great job. It’s also gratifying to see Soldiers overcome severe medical issues to deploy again. Not every Soldier succeeds in this — it’s tough when medical issues prevent a Soldier from deploying with his or her unit.

I enlisted in the National Guard at age 17, and deployed as a combat medic in Desert Storm. After coming home from that deployment, I became a licensed practical nurse and then a registered nurse. I’ve performed numerous duties in various settings as a nurse, but I get the greatest satisfaction working with Soldiers. It’s my way of helping the war effort.

Have you gotten the help you need?

IKE Sailors Volunteer At Virginia Zoo

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Baker, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) spent the morning May 5 at the Virginia Zoological Park in Norfolk helping to create an environment that both the animals and visitors can enjoy.

The Hampton Roads area is home to thousands of servicemembers that live, work and play among its citizens year round. During deployments, military dependants still work, attend classes and utilize the many facilities provided by the seven cities. It is a delicate relationship in which civilians support military activity and in return servicemembers consume goods and services, boosting the economy.

However, servicemembers do more than simply consume goods; every week they are out in the community volunteering their time conducting community relations projects (COMREL).

Hours before the zoo opened, Sailors armed with shovels began sculpting the landscape around the Southeast Asian exhibit. The extra bodies were a welcome relief for the park employees.

"With a staff of nine people maintaining the grounds and caring for the animals, it would be almost impossible to do all this with out volunteer help," said Marie Butler, landscape coordinator for the park.

She said when attributing savings of approximately 15 dollars an hour for each volunteer, it adds up to thousands of dollars kept by the city of Norfolk.

IKE has spent over 150 man-hours at the zoo since arriving home in August of last year, making this a notable contribution to the community. But the benefits reach farther than dollars and cents. Citizens get to see Sailors out in town actively working for its improvement, and Sailors like Operation Specialist 3rd Class Lashanta Sanders get to learn what it takes to build an animal habitat or get the attention of an Asiatic Black Bear.

"Its been a lot of fun," said Sanders, "I think the bears liked me."

Her group of volunteers planted different bushes and trees so that when the animals come out it would remind them of their native home.

"Its like creating a little piece of Southeast Asia here in Norfolk," said Butler. "Its good to see volunteers like Sanders interacting with animals."

Her hope is that when volunteers leave they have a better appreciation for gardens and the animals they help.

Navy Chaplain Lt. Eric Cochrane organized the COMREL and said the zoo visit is a special one because of the unique opportunity it provides for everyone involved.

"So many people look at the Navy and just see us sort of taking from the community," said Cochrane. "This gives us a chance to leave a positive mark that they will get to enjoy."

COMRELs take place constantly and allow the ship to leave a lasting impression on those it serves. IKE Sailors will continue giving back to the community whenever they are home consistently making the Hampton Roads greater each day.