Sunday, September 25, 2011

Injured Veterans Wrap Up Sports Clinic

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2011 – The fourth-annual National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic that drew 100 injured military veterans, including three active-duty Marines, concludes today in San Diego.

This year’s clinic began Sept. 18. The yearly clinics, sponsored primarily by the Veterans Affairs Department, feature workshops designed to assist injured veterans to develop sports skills, officials said.

Attendees participated in adaptive kayaking, sailing, track and field, cycling, and surfing.

For many participants, the clinic is their first exposure to the therapeutic value of adaptive sports and recreational activities, officials said.

“The Summer Sports Clinic is proof of VA’s commitment to improve the quality of life for veterans with disabilities,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “The clinic helps our most severely injured veterans gain physical and mental confidence.”

This year’s group of veterans attending the clinic had sustained injuries such as amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burns, psychological trauma, certain neurological conditions, visual impairments and spinal cord injuries.

At the outset of the clinic, VA’s undersecretary for health, Dr. Robert Petzel, said participants would be surrounded by fellow veterans who share common bonds though their service.

“The clinic helps wounded veterans return to active lifestyles through physical and mental rehabilitation,” Petzel added.

The VA’s San Diego Healthcare System has hosted the clinic since 2008. Other clinic sponsors this year include its founders, Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Veterans Canteen Service, as well as San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina, Cisco Systems Inc., Health Net, Booz Allen Hamilton and Challenged America.

The 2012 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic is scheduled to be held in San Diego from Sept. 16 to 21.

USS Constitution Sailors Participate in New England Navy Week

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From USS Constitution Public Affairs

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution began participating in New England Navy Week in Springfield, Mass., Sept. 24.

Sailors will perform War of 1812-era gun drills and 17th century boarding pike drills daily at The Big E, Eastern States Exposition, the largest fair in the Northeastern United States that is expected to attract more than one million guests.

"Navy Weeks in general are a great opportunity to bring the Navy to areas that are not near a Navy base and show people what the Navy is doing for the nation," said Cmdr. Matthew Bonner, Constitution's 72nd commanding officer. "It helps strengthen the relationship between the public and the Navy."

Sailors are also scheduled to teach naval history and interact with more than 300 students at Converse Middle School and Granite Valley Middle School in Monson, Mass.

Additionally, they will meet and give Navy ballcaps to children dealing with chronic and severe health issues as part of a Caps for Kids visit at Bay State Medical Center.

"I am excited to take part in one of my ship's important missions to give back to our community," said Seaman Gerald Coriolan, a Sailor assigned to Constitution. "There's no better place in Massachusetts or a better time to have a Navy Week."

This is the fifth Navy Week Constitution Sailors will participate in this year. The event runs through Oct. 2. They performed similar activities teaching naval history to more than 400 middle school students and giving more than 130 ballcaps to children in Tampa Bay, Fla., Austin, Texas, New Orleans and Chattanooga, Tenn.

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 England Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors in person.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard of Boston Harbor and is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Greenert Becomes Chief of Naval Operations, Roughead Steps Down

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle P. Malloy
Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2011 – Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert became the 30th chief of naval operations during a change of command ceremony today at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Greenert accepted the Navy’s highest military post from Adm. Gary Roughead, who will retire Sept. 30 from the post he has held since September 2007. Both officers are Naval Academy graduates; Roughead, in 1973, and Greenert, in 1975.

Greenert, who previously served as vice chief of naval operations, will now become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that capacity, he will serve as principal naval adviser to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and President Barack Obama.

Mabus said the Navy will go through a transparent transition with Greenert now serving as its top officer.

“Admiral Roughead's contributions may be hard if not impossible to surpass, but I am confident that if anyone can match them it is Jon Greenert,” Mabus said.

Greenert praised Roughead’s example and said he would strive to follow it.

"My priorities, our course, are one, we've got to remain ready to meet the current challenges today, we've got to build a relevant and capable future fleet, and we have got to continue to care for our sailors, our civilians and their families, and recruit and nurture a motivated, relevant and diverse force," he said.

Greenert said he will focus on three tenets while in office: warfighting first, operate forward and be ready.

"We will approach our challenges and we will implement our changes that will have to be done in the future with three tenets in mind," he said. "They will be effective [and] efficient. Our solutions will be joint and the Marine Corps will remain our primary partner."

Mabus, who served as keynote speaker for the ceremony, highlighted Roughead's accomplishments during his naval career while thanking him for his leadership.

"I don't think anyone can ever fully express how much we're going to miss Gary Roughead's counsel and absolutely unwavering commitment to the Navy [and] the United States," said Mabus.

"Admiral Roughead has had the genius and the skill to turn so many of the challenges he's faced into opportunities," he said.

Mabus reviewed Roughead's career milestones, including being one of only two Navy admirals to command both the Pacific and Atlantic fleets.

"As chief of naval operations, his leadership has helped to reshape the Navy into the 21st century, operationally and strategically," said Mabus. "Gary Roughead's leadership skills follow great officers and a willingness to innovate while respecting the deep traditions of the sea service."

Mabus spoke about Roughead's commitment to his sailors, and how he always made them his first priority. "He never lost sight of the primary responsibility of leadership -- taking care of the people entrusted to you and to the office you hold," he said.

As Roughead took the podium, he thanked his counterparts, both foreign and domestic, friends and his family for their continued support and guidance during his tenure. He spoke about his unique experiences in the armed service, especially in the relationships built.

"There has been a lot of change, but throughout, there has been the decisive, constant and the aspect of the Navy that will be my enduring memory - our sailors," he said.

In an emotional conclusion, Roughead summarized his naval career.

"To echo what another Navy man said nearly five decades ago at this academy, when asked what I did to make my life worthwhile, I will respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy,’” he said.

National Military Medical Center Opens New Fitness Center

By Bernard S. Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, at Bethesda, (WRNMMC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the command's new fitness center, Sept. 22.

The 45,000-square foot facility offers a 50-meter indoor pool, an indoor running track, and NBA/NCAA regulation-sized basketball court. Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) staff held a Fit Challenge and "Fun Palooza" in the state-of-the-art gymnasium to celebrate the opening.

Events included basketball scrimmages for wounded warriors, fitness demonstrations and contests, a blood drive, food, prizes and giveaways.

A basketball scrimmage was held between AMP1 and the hospital staff, said Wendy Tompkins, manager of the fitness center. AMP1 is the first organized stand-up amputee basketball team in the country, she said. WNBA Washington Mystics' forward/center Crystal Langhorne, from the University of Maryland, was the honorary coach for the hospital staff team.

The USO, the Washington Redskins cheerleaders and staff from Information, Tickets & Technology (ITT) were also in attendance for the Fun Palooza.

The Fit Challenge began with TRX and Kangoo, Tompkins said. TRX is a form of suspension fitness training which offers alternative exercises and is beneficial for wounded warriors. Kangoo offers a fun fitness workout using spring boots and is ideal for people with bad knees or who have had back injuries because its low impact, she said.

5-K runs also took place, along with a half-mile swim challenge, an eight-mile spin bike ride, and a wheelchair basketball scrimmage with Paralympic players.

"We're very proud of the variety of things we offer," Tompkins said.

The fitness center offers personal training services and fitness classes, including BodyPump, BodyFlow, BodyCombat, spinning, yoga, boot camp, water aerobics and more, she said. In addition, the gym has racquetball courts, cardio and weight equipment, spinning and group work-out studios.

"We are also getting ready to start a class to work with our Department of Defense dependent children focusing on teen obesity," she added. "We're trying to entertain everyone."

Intramural sports, including basketball, softball, volleyball, kickball, indoor soccer and indoor wheelchair flag football, will also be offered by the fitness center, Tompkins said. Anyone who has a CAC and works on base, except contractors, can use the facility, she added. Full-time NIH employees can also use the fitness center.

In addition to the variety of programs offered by the fitness center, Tompkins is most proud of her staff of 19 fitness and recreational specialists and personal trainers.

"They all get along and have come together as a team," she said.

This is important in the center which has seen its patronage increase from about 350 people per day at its previous locations (in Building 147) to about 1,000 per day since it moved into Building 17, she added.

Tompkins said that Bob Killion, the Quality of Life director at WRNMMC, has also been instrumental in helping with its growth.

"He's a big part of what we've accomplished here. We're glad to be here and able to offer the services that we have," Tompkins continued.

She added that people have waited patiently for the new center to open and there will be some growing pains in an effort to improve services, but people's patience will be worth the wait.

"I'm proud of what we've done and how things are run," she said.