Monday, October 10, 2011

Dempsey outlines objectives, focuses on future

By Army Gen. Martin Dempsey
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON (10/3/11) – It is an honor to be the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to serve with you.

The most important thing I want you to know is that I trust you to do what’s right for each other and for our country.

Thanks for your service. You have fought harder and your families have sacrificed more than most will ever know. You make us the finest military on the planet. We’re powerful, versatile, responsive, and resilient. We are admired by our allies and partners, and we are dreaded by our enemies. You are our decisive advantage.

To ensure we remain the joint force our nation needs, I’ll focus on a few key themes as I begin my time as Chairman.

We must achieve our national objectives in the current conflicts. As long as our forces remain in harm’s way, we must ensure they have what they need to succeed.

We must look beyond our current requirements – to 2020 – and develop Joint Force 2020 to provide the greatest possible number of options for our nation’s leaders and to ensure our nation remains immune from coercion.

Keeping our military the best led, best trained, and best equipped force in the world is the non-negotiable imperative. Doing so in a new fiscal environment will be hard, but we’ve overcome similar challenges in our past, and the nation is counting on us to overcome them again.

We must renew our commitment to the Profession of Arms. We’re not a profession simply because we say we’re a profession. We must continue to learn, to understand, and to promote the knowledge, skills, attributes, and behaviors that define us as a profession.

And, of course, we must keep faith with our military family. Our active, Guard and Reserve service members, our wounded warriors, our families, and our veterans deserve the future they have sacrificed to secure.

Continue mission! I am proud to serve with you.

USS George H.W. Bush Sees Success in Can Tab Collection Program

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman (SW) Michael Smevog, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs

USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- Thanks to the efforts of motivated Sailors aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the crew collected 35 pounds of can tabs, Oct. 9, which will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Program.

George H.W. Bush Sailors empty nearly 4,000 cans each day. For most, that means 4,000 pieces of trash. However, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SW) Gibbi L. Johnson, assigned to George H.W. Bush Medical Department, who enjoys saving lives on and off duty, saw a hidden treasure in the aluminum waste.

Commanding Officer Capt. Brian E. Luther made an announcement in May at the beginning of the ship's deployment that Sailors could collect tabs and donate them to charity. Johnson decided she should take the opportunity and accomplish something meaningful during the ship's first operational deployment, and began collecting can tabs around the ship to donate to the Ronald McDonald House program, which is part of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC).

"I feel like we have a great opportunity to make a difference in a child's life since we're out here, and so many cans are being used anyway," Johnson said.

The Ronald McDonald House program provides a home-away-from-home for relatives to stay near hospitalized family members, and has provided support to millions of people, including Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman (AW) Sarah M. Strong, assigned to George H.W. Bush Air Department.

When Strong was four years old, her family stayed in a Ronald McDonald House while her 12-year-old sister, Jessica, was sick in a neighboring hospital. After being poisoned by E. coli, Jessica was flown to Morgantown, W. Va., a considerable drive from the family's home in Elkins, W. Va. The family arrived at the hospital and slept on the waiting room floor. At that time, the family was living from paycheck to paycheck, but the hospital staff told them they could stay at the Ronald McDonald House. For a small donation to the foundation, the Strong family was able to stay close to the hospital and be near their daughter. Unfortunately, the last night they were at the hospital, Jessica passed away.

Despite their circumstances, the family was thankful for the opportunity provided by RMHC. The Strong family was able to spend Jessica's last few days with her. RMHC has helped provide millions of families with places to stay while their children are in hospitals, and continues to make a positive difference with the donations it receives.

After her sister passed, Strong and her then 8-year-old sister, Allison, collected can tops in their elementary school in support of the foundation that helped her family. More than 10 years later, when Strong received an e-mail from Johnson about collecting can tops on the ship, Strong felt that she should help ensure as many were collected as possible.

"I feel like I should give back and help a family like we were helped," said Strong.

Strong went around the ship to pass out bags for divisions who weren't already saving tabs so that they could begin saving. Strong and Johnson regularly collect the tabs around the ship and add them to the barrel so they can be cashed-in at a recycling facility to provide a donation to the Ronald McDonald Foundation in Hampton Roads, Va. when the ship returns home from deployment.

Johnson and Strong feel so strongly about the project that they did not hesitate to remove the tabs from cans they found in divisional metal bags, or in the large tri-walls that were on the flight deck during the ship's steel beach picnic.

"I feel like if everybody else sees me doing it, then they'll start saving them too," Strong said.

Strong hopes that Sailors support the positive cause so that more families can receive help in difficult times.

"I got really excited when I saw them being collected [in the Oasis] in Dubai," she said, referring to the ship's last port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

There are currently 305 Ronald McDonald Houses in 52 countries and regions around the world. Ronald McDonald Houses provide more than 7,000 bedrooms to families around the world each night, saving them over $250 million in hotel costs. RMHC's programs include Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, which are places to rest and regroup at the hospital where a sick child is staying, and Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, which are clinics on wheels that offer affordable health care for children in their neighborhoods.

George H.W. Bush is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on its first operational deployment conducting maritime security operations and support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Virginia Guard home after helping Vermont reopen 400 miles of roads

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia National Guard

BLACKSTONE, Va. (10/3/11) –Virginia National Guard Soldiers supporting tropical storm recovery operations in Vermont completed their last mission there Sept. 27 and have since returned home.

About 20 Soldiers and six 20-ton dump trucks started hauling operations earlier last month to assist with clean-up efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Most of the personnel and all of the dump trucks were provided by the 157th Engineer Platoon while the 3647th Maintenance Company provided a maintenance team and support vehicle.

 While in Vermont, The Virginia Guard members transported 781 dump-truck loads for a total of 8,860 cubic yards of rock and fill dirt. They drove more than 25,600 miles and logged in nearly 2,900 hours of training time on the equipment.

The Virginia Guard augmented the 133rd Engineer Battalion from the Maine Army National Guard and worked directly for the Vermont Agency of Transportation in coordination with a civilian contractor.

According to the VAT, 450 miles of Vermont’s 2,700 miles of state highway were closed the day after Hurricane Irene hit. State road crews, contractors and National Guard personnel from six different states worked nearly 16-hour days for eleven days and opened all but 57 miles of state highways.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin praised the work of everyone involved and called opening the road network “an extraordinary achievement.”

The experience in Vermont was positive for the Virginia Soldiers, according to Facebook posts.

“From the first day and the first plate of brownies, the local community has been so supportive, thankful and generous that we were all in awe,” wrote Army Sgt. Steven Moore in a post on the Vermont Rutland Herald Facebook Page.

“We are accustomed to southern hospitality, but the people of Vermont have taken it to a new level,” he added to his post. “Thank you, Vermont, for showing how people can pull together in times of need. I can only hope that if this ever happens in Virginia, or anywhere else in this great country, the people would act the same way.”

Another Facebook user in Vermont responded to Moore’s post with: “I know that Vermont appreciates all that the National Guard members do for us,” wrote Kathi Sheehan Stern. “We thank them for being here in our time of need.”

Vermont’s need for assistance was channeled through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Long, Jr., the adjutant general of Virginia, approved the request to provide the personnel and equipment.

“This is exactly how the Emergency Management Assistance Compact system is supposed to work,” Long said. “When a state needs additional capability to assist in a time of need, they can reach out to other states to provide that capability. We are glad to be able to assist the citizens of Vermont with their clean-up effort. I am sure they would do the same thing for us.”