Military News

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Naval Hospital Bremerton Hosts Right Spirit Campaign

By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton's wrapped up a weeklong Right Spirit Campaign with the interactive "That Guy" presentation on June 24.

The annual event is part of the Navy's Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Deglamorization Campaign that emphasizes personal, shipmate, leadership and command responsibility while promoting healthy lifestyles for all Navy members.

"With five days of events, our goals were to increase awareness on the many dangers of alcohol and to reinforce our main message of having those who do drink, to do so responsibly," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Rodel Carlos, NHB Command DAPA and event organizer. "NHB's ultimate goal is to have no alcohol related incidents of any kind. By providing information and awareness, and also focusing on what other activities and resources are available, we hope that our staff will make the right choices."

Carlos said the "That Guy" presentation was specifically chosen as a fitting end of the Right Spirit Campaign.

"The presentation wasn't just a reminder," he said. That Guy really is a great way to show that if anyone drinks too much and gets out of control, people won't be laughing with them, they will be laughing at them."

The week-long event also featured guest speakers, Safe Ride Taxi presentations, and a "Mocktail" Cabana that showcased non-alcoholic 'adult' beverages such as sparkling apple-peach sunrise and lemon-strawberry punch.

"Business was so good at our cabana that we ran out of mocktail glasses and had to start using plastic cups," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Sammie Boroski. "This is a great way to show everyone that there are alternatives available and that people don't have to drink alcohol to have fun and look cool."

NHB's Safe Ride taxi program advocates 'No Questions and No Charge' for those who call for a ride home.

"We're trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone," said Navy Counselor 1st Class Sara Dozier. "Drinking and driving are obviously not an option in our Navy today. Using Safe Ride is the right and smart choice for anyone who has been drinking. We got our command duty officer, officer of the deck, quarterdeck and Safe Ride taxi-cab phone numbers on the business cards. If anyone needs a ride, they just need to call one of them to get home safely."

Thomas Gauthier was one of the guest speaker and delivered a presentation required for all staff members, E6 and below, to attend. "Our commanding officer is very passionate about getting the word out about drinking and driving," said Lt j.g. Jeremy Howell, Human Resources department head. "We needed a way to really get the word out about the dangers of alcohol and DUIs. I mentioned that I had a friend who made the ultimate bad decision and might be able to talk about it. The Skipper immediately said to see if he was available to come up to speak."

Gautheir's story was different from those shared in past Right Spirit Campaigns. Gautheir, a former Navy hospital corpsman, was not the victim in a drinking and driving scenario. He was the offender.

"He was a rising star, a young corpsman going places," said Howell, who went through Hospital Corps school and Field Medicine training with him. "Just a couple drinks changed his life," Howell said.

Gautheir related that he made just one bad decision. That one bad decision completely altered his life and cost the life of another. He got behind the wheel of his car in San Diego after drinking Aug. 31, 2002, and ended up killing a three-year old. He served five years for vehicular manslaughter.

According to Howell, what really made the guest speaker presentation so effective was that many of the enlisted personnel could immediately relate because it was coming from one of their 'own.' Afterward, staff members commented to Gautheir and shared with Howell, how impactful the presentation was to them.

"An HM2 e-mailed me and said that he should talk to every command," said Howell. "One young corpsman mentioned that the presentation was very powerful. Another one said she couldn't stop crying.

"Was our week-long effort successful?" asked Carlos. "We think so. We had victims, and we had offenders. We got to see the impact of what alcohol can do from both sides. We hope everyone got the message and remembers to be responsible if they drink alcohol."

Live from Annual Training – The pride and prowess of our volunteer Soldiers

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs
By Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde
32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

Twenty-eight years ago, Pvt. Conde was attending basic training in Fort Benning, Ga. The biggest threat that we spoke about during basic training in 1983 was the Cold War against the Soviet Union and communism. As we all know, the threat was real but both countries understood the consequences of an all-out war. At that time in the history of the United States, the National Guard was strictly a strategic reserve force, and the chances of us going to war were slim at best.  The only Soldiers wearing unit patches on their right shoulders, signifying service in a combat area, were leftovers from the Vietnam War.

As the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team went to annual training in June of 2011 — 28 years after Pvt. Conde attended basic training — more than 80 percent of the Soldiers that make up the Brigade joined after Sept. 11, 2001. What does this mean? It means that the majority of the Soldiers of the 32nd knew the likelihood of going into combat was extremely high.  Today a patch on the right shoulder is the norm and not the exception.

While many Americans are very supportive of the military and the young men and women that server our great country, only a fraction of the population actually serves in our military forces. To think that 80 percent of our Soldiers joined after 9/11, knowing that the National Guard had moved from a reserve status to a deployable status, tells me a great deal about the patriotism of the Soldiers in our ranks.  These are real American Heroes.

As I look across the Brigade, I see Soldiers that stand ready to defend the nation. I see young people that joined the National Guard when units were being activated to go into harm’s way. I see that the future of this great nation is in capable hands.

I, for one, am confident in the dedication and determination of our young people.

(blogging from Fort McCoy, Wis., at annual training)

Australian Navy Delivers Veterinary Care during Pacific Partnership 2011

By Leading Seaman Imagery Specialist Helen Frank, Royal Australian Navy

DILI, Timor Leste (NNS) -- Veterinarians and technicians from the U.S Army, Australian Army, Spanish Navy and non-government organizations World Vets and Vets without Borders, concluded a four-day mission to provide veterinary care for the residents of Puno, Timor-Leste, June 20-23.

They were there as part of Pacific Partnership, an annual humanitarian assistance mission. During the course of the last two months, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 30,000 patients, completed 19 engineering civic action projects, cared for more than 400 animals, engaged in nearly 30 community service projects, and developed friendships in Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

The majority of animals seen by the veterinarians included dogs and pigs. The animals were neutered as well as treated for fleas and worms.

"It was exciting to be working in the field," said U.S. Army Captain Hakim Hamici. "We looked after a lot of domestic animals. This helps the well being of both the animal and its owner. The village people were very thankful, and we were happy that they were so receptive."

There was also an opportunity for information exchanges with visits by local agricultural students and volunteers from the Timorese Animal Lovers Society. Pacific Partnership veterinarians exchanged information about disease control and animal handling while learning more about how Timorese communities manage livestock.

The Pacific Partnership team was transported to the remote location of Puno via two Royal Australian Navy Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) ships. These 'pick up trucks of the sea' are 132 feet in length and can carry a maximum of 180 tons of cargo. Their shallow draft makes them ideal for delivering people and equipment to areas that are otherwise unreachable by larger ships. This capability is exactly what missions like Pacific Partnership require in order to bring assistance to remote locations.

"Without the contribution of our Australian partners, many people in the country might not even hear of Pacific Partnership and what we're trying to achieve," said Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, Pacific Partnership 2011 mission commander. "The LCHs' capabilities carry our message and support to the countryside, which is frequently hardest hit by natural disasters."

This is the second time the Royal Australian Navy LCHs have supported Pacific Partnership 2011. They also transported people and equipment to three remote locations in Vanuatu to conduct medical, dental and veterinary civic action programs.

During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, veterinary, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 230,000 people and completed more than 150 engineering projects in 15 countries. This year, the Pacific Partnership team has completed missions in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste. The mission will conclude in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Ancient Plays Provide Forum for Tough Topics

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Justin L. Ailes, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- The Joint Stress Mitigation and Restoration Team (JSMART) aboard Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is sponsoring presentations of "Theater of War" through June 24.

The program, presented by Theater of War Productions, included Hollywood and Broadway actors reading the Greek drama, "Prometheus In Prison," as well as scenes from "Ajax" and "Philoctetes."

"Theater of War is an awareness project that has been touring military sites throughout the United States, Europe, and Cuba, performing ancient plays serving as a catalyst for town-hall discussions on issues that are hard to talk about otherwise," said Bryan Doerries, Theater of War producer. "The idea is to relate the impact of war on families and relationships, and provide a forum to discuss the effects of those experiences, utilizing these ancient plays that timelessly depict the seen and unseen wounds of battle."

Among these Greek tragedies, 'Prometheus In Prison' was written by Greek general Sophocles 2,500 years ago for an audience of more than 17,000 soldiers, said Doerries.

'Prometheus In Prison' portrays a depiction of a prisoner-of-war who has committed political crimes and is sentenced to an eternity of isolation and segregation away from the gods and humanity.

"The play is about how this prisoner rebels against those who have incarcerated him, his family, and friends, and we use this as a forum relating to those who serve in the criminal justice field, and especially here at the detention camp," said Doerries. "The story focuses on the pressures involved with working with self-righteous prisoners and the impact that has on those involved."

The scenes read from 'Philoctetes' depict a psychologically complex tragedy about a Greek warrior marooned on a desert island while his troops wage war without him, showcasing the importance of teamwork and resiliency, added Doerries, while 'Ajax' tells the story of a Greek warrior dealing with depression near the end of the Trojan War, conveying the effects of suicide and the impact it has on families.

"The play gives a voice to depression and suicide so that people see that it's not just them; these issues have been around since the beginning of time," said Francesca Dietz, wife of a Soldier stationed with the 525th Military Police Battalion on Joint Task Force Guantanamo, who will sit on a panel of commentators for the "town hall" discussions that happen after the readings.

The panel includes two veteran or active duty service members with prior deployments, a spouse or family member, and a chaplain or mental health professional.

"After the readings, we discuss our reactions to the play with audience members," said Dietz. "Everyone is involved in the discussion, and it raises awareness of the effects military service can have on individuals, their families including parents, and close friends."

Theater of War helps audience members understand the effects of war on military communities, said Dietz.

"It's okay to feel these things," said Dietz. "Soldiers today are not the first ones to feel anguish over their experiences, and they won't be the last ones. There are people who have been through the same things before and there are resources available to help."

The dramatic readings featured award-winning actors Phyllis Kaufman, Marin Ireland, Brian O'Byrne, William Mills Irwin, and Ato Essandoh.

"People in our audiences, especially military audiences, see their own stories reflected in tales over 2,500 years old, and because they see themselves in these depictions, something very powerful happens," said Doerries. "Audience members feel empowered to speak about their personal tribulations associated with military life and Theater of War provides an honest and sincere platform for those discussions."