Military News

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Face of Defense: Dad Takes Oath From Son After Service Break

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23rd Wing

VALDOSTA, Ga., Aug. 11, 2011 – Nineteen years after separating from the active duty Air Force, Scott Long enlisted into the Air Force Reserve. Now he's a staff sergeant, serving with the 476th Maintenance Squadron as a fuel systems craftsman.

Long's son, Army 2nd Lt. Brandon Long, 1-169th Aviation Support Battalion liaison officer, presided over the July 28 ceremony.

"When I decided to re-enlist, I was looking into the future," said the elder Long, 51. "I always regretted getting out, even though it was the right decision at the time."

Before his separation in 1992 after 11 years of service, Long was stationed in numerous countries and states, finally settling down at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

"What makes Sergeant Long a special case is that he has a 19-year break in service," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Walker, Eastern Recruiting Squadron line recruiter. "He will bring back knowledge and heritage to the newer generation of airmen."

Lieutenant Long was happy to have the chance to preside over his father's re-enlistment ceremony.

"It's a special event, and a rare opportunity to do a re-enlistment ceremony as a young officer, especially for my father," he said. "I'm really happy for him. He has been talking about re-enlisting for a long time, and he is happy to have the chance to serve his country again."

The lieutenant, who is waiting to leave for pilot training, was commissioned in May during a ceremony in which his father pinned on his rank.

"It has been a dream of mine to serve in the military ever since I was young," the lieutenant said. "I really wanted to join the Air Force, but my college only had an Army ROTC program. I got a slot for pilot training in the Army, and I have always wanted to fly, so it didn't matter which service.

"My father's service definitely influenced my decision to join the military," he added. "It's a family legacy. His father was a Marine in World War II, and my other grandfather was in the Navy."

At more than 50 years old and 19 years after leaving active duty, Sergeant Long faced challenges when re-enlisting.

"The biggest challenge in re-enlisting after all this time was making sure I was physically fit," he said. "You also have to make sure you are still medically qualified."

Only a few months after his son's commissioning and 19 years after leaving active duty, Long is glad to be back in uniform.

"I am just proud to have the opportunity to serve my country again,” he said, “and contribute more than just my tax dollars."

Obama Honors Fallen Muslim-American Soldier at Iftar

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2011 – President Barack Obama paid tribute to a fallen soldier during an iftar dinner at the White House last night as an example of contributions Muslim-Americans have made to America’s diversity and freedoms.

Recognizing the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, Obama noted the diverse backgrounds of Americans – including Muslim-Americans -- who suffered during the attacks, rushed to their aid as first responders and continue to serve in harm’s way protecting American freedoms.

“During 10 hard years of war, our troops have served with excellence and with honor,” he said, with some making the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.

Among them was 20-year-old Army Spc. Kareem Rashad Sultan Kahn, a member of 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Lewis, Wash. Khan was among four U.S. soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Baqouba, Iraq, on Aug. 6, 2007.

“Galvanized by 9/11 to serve his country, he gave his life in Iraq and now rests with his fellow heroes at Arlington,” the president said. A Muslim crescent marks Kahn’s grave, just as crosses and stars mark the graves of fallen Christian and Jewish heroes.

“Like Kareem, this generation has earned its place in history,” Obama said last night. He asked all servicemembers at the iftar celebration to stand to accept their fellow guests’ applause.

“This year and every year, we must ask ourselves: How do we honor these patriots --those who died and those who served?” the president said. “In this season of remembrance, the answer is the same as it was 10 years ago. We must be the America they lived for and the America they died for --the America they sacrificed for.”

That, he explained, is an accepting America that stays true to its core values and recognizes its diversity as its strength. It’s also a nation that “stands up for dignity and the rights of people around the world, whether a young person demanding his or her freedom in the Middle East or North Africa, or a hungry child in the Horn of Africa, where we are working to save lives,” he said.

Obama called the iftar “part of a rich tradition here at the White House of celebrating the holy days of the many faiths and the diversity that define us as a nation.”

An iftar is a meal served at the day's end during Ramadan, which began Aug. 1 this year and continues through Aug. 29.

Ramadan is the Islamic faith's holiest time and commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad. Through fasting, prayer and worship, Muslims reflect on their spiritual lives and their dependence on God as they strengthen family and community ties.

Doctors Caution Colon Cleansers May Clean Body of Nutrients

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alexandra Snyder, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Doctors at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) encouraged Sailors to avoid using unhealthy measures, like colon cleansers, to meet physical standards Aug. 11.

While the manufacturers of these cleansers claim they help shed pounds and free the body of toxins, Capt. Brooks Cash, Chief of Medicine for NNMC and Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) said these could potentially lead to severe health hazards.

"There is a belief that stool in your colon clogs like a pipe and occasionally needs cleaning out. That is a myth," said Cash.

Additionally, there is no evidence of improved health with colon cleansing and over-the-counter medicinal laxatives and enemas used to perform these "cleansings," said Cash, who is also Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. He added that such rituals can lead to dehydration and potentially deadly electrolyte abnormalities.

In reality, the food we eat is not stored for long periods within the body. It is broken down into one- to two-millimeter particles of basic sugars, fats and proteins in the stomach. It is then absorbed by the small intestine where it is used to nourish the body. The unusable particles are sent to the colon where water is reabsorbed to form solid stool. This waste is then expelled from the body, Cash explained.

"Humans have been around for a pretty long time," he added. "There is no reason to use colon cleansers when your body has adapted to do such a good job of that on its own."

Touting such benefits as weight loss, shinier hair and greater overall health with the removal of "toxins" that build up in consumers' digestive tract, colon cleansers come in the form of pills, powders to be mixed with liquid and enemas; however, reading the fine print on the labels of these "ultimate colon cleansers" reveals such common side effects as nausea, vomiting, intestinal cramping, drowsiness and fatigue.

"There are numerous reports that these cleansers, especially the high colonics, have caused direct harm to patient's bodies, such as infections, colonic perforation, and even death," said Lt. Cmdr. Ruben Acosta, staff gastroenterologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at USU. "These types of injuries and infections are especially prevalent because the cleanse is performed by alternative practitioners who are not subject to the same safety or hygiene regulations that protect the patients who undergo standard medical procedures."

Cash added that colon cleanser manufacturers take advantage of people by capitalizing on their fears of being overweight, unattractive or unhealthy. To combat those issues and sustain health, he recommends patients eat fiber, maintain an ideal body weight, exercise, not smoke and use alcohol only moderately, if at all.

"Another critically important preventative measure to take is to begin colon cancer screening at the appropriate ages," said Cash.

According to Cash, the only common reason other than problematic, severe constipation to do a colon cleanse is in preparation for a colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy, two of the colon cancer screening options offered by the Gastroenterology Service at NNMC.

Patients with no family history of colon cancer should begin screening at age 50, regardless of gender; African-Americans should start at age 45. Anyone with at least two grandparents or one parent or sibling who suffered from colon cancer should begin screening at age 40 or 10 years before the age the relative was diagnosed.

"Colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in the US; however, it is largely preventable." said Cash. "Screening needs to occur every five to ten years, regardless of symptoms, as colon cancer is often silent until too late."

For more information about colon cancer screenings, contact your primary care manager.

What Do Most Baby Boomers Have in Common?

Baby Boomers have something in common. They can trace a connection all the way back to World War II. At least the vast majority of them can. With over 16 million American men and women having served, it is rare indeed to come across a Boomer who has no family ties dating back to the War.

Some have fathers who were veterans and the lucky ones still count that parent among the living. Others have already lost a family member and still some born during the War (not technically Boomers but right around that age) lost a parent they never got to know.

Facing their own mortality, these Boomers have rummaged through the footlockers and cigar boxes in attics and closets all over America to better understand what it was like in World War II and what their parents had to endure.

If they were lucky they found a medal or two, some old unit insignia, a photo and perhaps a war souvenir (American GIs were notorious in their pursuit of war memorabilia). They may have found some evidence of what the Homefront was like with rationing, scrap drives and twenty million Victory Gardens. It was a place where the women built the planes and ships while their men (just boys, really) went off to fight in faraway places they couldn't pronounce or even find on a map.

The dog-eared pictures of men in uniform frozen in their youth and naivety usually elicit a tear or two. Motivated by these scraps of history and gripped with a sense of great curiosity, the Boomers began to dig deeper. They found an imperfect America with boundless virtues and vexing shortcomings awakening from the Great Depression to take up arms to defend their country.

Everyone served or at least tried to serve. The stigma of not being in uniform was so intense it drove some to suicide. Hollywood actors (like Charlton Heston, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable and Henry Fonda) led the way and other celebrities followed. Over five hundred men who would return to play major league baseball volunteered, including superstars like Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Joe DiMaggio. President Roosevelt's son James was a Marine Raider and former President Teddy Roosevelt's son Teddy Jr. won The Medal of Honor at Normandy. It was rare that anyone felt exempt or entitled to a deferment. It certainly was different from the attitudes of today. The more the Boomers learned, the more interested they became in the life and times of their parents.

Today, both the interest and connection back to that time is extremely strong. Most Boomers are intensely proud of what their relatives accomplished. A peaceful nation wanting no part of the trouble raging around the globe was dragged into the War by being attacked on a peaceful Sunday morning. From victim to victor in less than 4 years!

But America had its trials and tribulations with racial and gender bias and struggled with these issues throughout the War. A segregated military and a condescending attitude toward women made it extremely difficult for these groups to fully participate and prove themselves. But not impossible!

Many women joined non-combat units (WACS and WAVES) as nurses and administrators and yet 16 were awarded Purple Hearts for wounds received. Those who stayed home went into the factories and built the victuals of war; they fueled the "arsenal of democracy". And another group, numbering over one thousand, ferried fighter planes and bombers from war plants to bases, freeing up men for combat. They did this for two-thirds the pay and no military benefits despite 38 being killed in the line of duty.

No Medals of Honor were awarded to African-Americans during World War II despite over 1 million serving and fifty thousand being assigned to combat jobs. The "colored" combat units were "experimental" with political forces pushing in both directions (more units or none). But these elements proved themselves in combat and in 1997, seven African-Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor, six posthumously, in an East Room Ceremony at the White House.

Some claim that these were dark days for social justice in American history and a chapter we should all be ashamed of. I would rather think of those times as the turning point in gender and racial relations in America. The realization of true equal opportunity for African-Americans and women in our country can justifiably be dated to the War.

So it is with some satisfaction that Boomers reach back into their family histories and take great pride in their ancestors' contribution to an America united as never before or since. And as we say goodbye to the last of them at the rate of 1,000 per day, we should never forget them nor neglect to honor them for what they accomplished in preserving our way of life.

The Last Jump is both a stirring tribute and a "thank you" to all who served the United States, in any capacity, during the greatest conflagration in history. I would like to also thank my readers, especially all the Boomers out there, for their wonderful reviews, gracious comments and support for the book.

I only wish I could have written it better.

John E. Nevola
Follow me on Twitter --> @TheLastJump
http://www.thelastjump.com

Coast Guard Rescues Marine Aviators

The Coast Guard is often forgotten when people think of military heroes.  Read these Coast Guard books written by these forgotten heroes and know their story and example.

From a U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs Detachment San Diego News Release:

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 11, 2011 – Coast Guard crews rescued two Marines after their F/A-18 Hornet jet from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 85 miles southwest of here last night.

Both Marines were reported to be in stable condition.

After notification of the downed aircraft at 10:15 p.m., the Coast Guard launched assets to begin the rescue mission. Once on the scene, the Coast Guard Cutter Edisto heard the Marines and vectored the Coast Guard MH-60 Jahawk helicopter to the survivors' location. The Jahawk's aircrew maneuvered into position, and the rescue swimmer deployed to recover the Marines, who were hoisted into the helicopter and flown to a hospital.

In addition to the Edisto, homeported here, the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau from Alameda, Calif., a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Sacramento -- the first asset on the scene --and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Sector San Diego responded.

Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Serving Those Who Served

By Dr. James Bender, DCoE psychologist

Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

Hello. It’s been an action-packed week as I was in Washington, D.C., recently for the American Psychological Association (APA) annual convention. I joined about 12,000 fellow psychologists to discuss a variety of topics, including the psychological health of service members and programs highlighting our latest research.

I presented at the workshop, Serving Those Who Served: Partnering with Returning Veterans to Aid Transitions, which was a forum for psychologists to become aware of information, resources and techniques to use when assisting this increasing population. As we know, military and civilian psychologists have an important role: as troops return from deployment, many will seek their help to cope with issues that may arise upon their return home. Keeping this in mind, among the points I emphasized at the training were:

■Don’t be too quick to diagnose a combat veteran: It’s normal for a returning service member to have some nightmares, be jittery around crowds, or feel nervous behind the wheel. However, it’s not normal if combat-related symptoms don’t decrease in a few months: the service member isn’t sleeping at all, has flashbacks, or doesn’t ever want to leave their room.
■Families matter too: Military families (spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) are also affected by deployment, so it’s important to understand their unique challenges. They can be a great source of information and support and are an important part of treatment.
■Drug and alcohol abuse should be taken seriously: Many people, including service members, like to drink and it’s usually not a problem. But if someone is drinking to calm their anxiety, if it’s the only way they can sleep, or if they’re drinking more and more to achieve the same effect (developing tolerance) it’s time for professional intervention.
■It’s important to be familiar with military culture: There are many qualified psychologists who have never served in uniform and are capable of treating military-related mental health concerns. However, it’s important that a treating provider is familiar with the basics of military life and the impact war can have on their patients.

I left the convention happy to know that the largest professional organization of psychologists is dedicated to helping veterans and service members with their mental health needs. However, they can’t help if military personnel and family members aren’t accessing treatment. If you or someone you know needs help, connect to support and resources by visiting www.realwarriors.net or call the DCoE Outreach Center at 866-966-1020.

Thanks for reading and for your service.

Bethesda Blood Center Seeks Platelet Donors

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dion Dawson, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- The Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) held a blood drive Aug. 9 at the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in an effort to help save lives of military members.

The ASBP is constantly seeking blood and platelet donors. Platelets - small, colorless cells found in blood - are involved in clotting and can be donated through a process known as apheresis.

"Apheresis is a medical procedure that involves removing whole blood from a donor or patient and separating the blood into individual components so that one particular component can be removed," said Mary Lewis, supervisor of the Apheresis Department at NNMC. "After the platelets are collected, the remaining blood components then are re-introduced back into the bloodstream of the patient or donor."

"The need is there," said Lewis. "If you have a person who is bleeding from trauma, injuries sustained in combat or has a low platelet count from chemotherapy, it helps to stop bleeding. We continuously encourage platelet donation because platelets are good for five days, while blood is good for 42 days after it is donated, so we constantly need to increase our amount of platelet products due to the quickness of the expiration."

An individual can donate platelets every two weeks, up to 24 times a year, but when giving regular red blood, a person must wait eight weeks before donating again.

Lewis went on to explain the process of donating platelets.

"Before we prepare to extract platelets, we have to verify that the person's red cells, white cells and platelets are at a certain level to be able to donate," she stated. "After that, they will complete a questionnaire, travel form and initial interview. The requirements of the donor are similar to giving blood, but the collection process takes longer. While donating, the donor is attached to a machine that extracts blood, separates it, takes some plasma and platelets and gives everything else back. It is a continuous process that lasts between 60 to 90 minutes."

The amount of time the process takes also depends on the donor's height, weight, blood and platelet count.

"We need to continue to expand and increase our database of donors through word of mouth and support from the command," said Reynald Weidner, an apheresis technician at NNMC. "It gives me a good feeling knowing that the more supplies we have ready means more opportunities for patients to receive transfusion services that's needed."

Weidner said it's part of her job to sit down with the donors and explain the importance of giving and the people who benefit from the donation.

"My job involves platelet collection, recruiting donors and spreading it through word of mouth. It is more than just collecting the platelets. I always encourage people to donate," she added.

As supervisor, Lewis said she has a hand in everything related to the department, especially when it comes to making sure the department gets the platelet donors needed for patients at NNMC.

"It is the donor's responsibility to come to us healthy, not having taken any medications that we mentioned, stay hydrated and having eaten a calcium-rich diet the day before," she said. "The machine bonds with the calcium and allows the blood not to clot during the collection process. We have [an] appointment system set up, so that anyone interested in donating can go online and set up their own appointment."

Donors cannot take any aspirin 72 hours before donating and any non-steroidal medicine for 24 hours prior. For more information about the ASBP, visit militaryblood.dod.mil.

San Diego Sailors Attend Personal Readiness Summit

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Behnke, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A series of subject matter experts provided San Diego-area Sailors with current information on a variety of Navy issues during a personal readiness summit Aug. 8-9.

"The goal is to provide Sailors and leadership the opportunity to hear from different people and build their awareness," said Navy Region Southwest Command Master Chief Nancy Hollingsworth. "To create that culture of training and awareness on the topics of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program (SAPR), the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program and the Physical Readiness Program."

Naval Base Coronado hosted the first day of the summit, and the second day was a repeat held on Naval Base San Diego. The purpose of holding the summit over two days was to ensure the opportunity for maximum participation from command personnel.

The morning was dedicated to the topic of sexual assault in the military. Anne Munch, an attorney and key figure in the development of the Navy's SAPR program, gave the audience some often startling and eye-opening facts regarding sexual assault in the services.

"I think it opened quite a few eyes as to what constitutes sexual assault," said Jeannette Casillas, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) at the Naval Base Coronado Fleet and Family Support Center. "I hope they are ready to go back to their commands and talk about it and set a command climate of zero tolerance with respect to sexual assault."

The afternoon was dedicated to informing key command personnel of changes in the Physical Readiness Program and the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Program.

"I think you're going to see a lot more of these workshops in different areas of the Navy," said Hollingsworth. "This workshop is not the single answer to addressing these issues, but it is a resource and hopefully people take the information back to their commands and inform their Sailors."