Military News

Saturday, October 15, 2011

PCU Minnesota Sailors Conduct Second Namesake Visit

From Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

MINNEAPOLIS (NNS) -- Five Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Minnesota (SSN 783) Sailors are visiting their namesake state to bring awareness about the Navy, and its newest Virginia-class submarine, Oct. 12 - 15.

During their four-day visit to the land of 10,000 lakes, the Sailors will participate in myriad events around the state.

"The crew is excited to be back in Minnesota raising awareness about the Virginia Class Submarine, PCU Minnesota, which is now under construction at Huntington Ingalls Industries - Newport News," said Cmdr. John Fancher, commanding officer, PCU Minnesota.

In August 2011, Fancher and several crew members visited Minnesota to officially kick off a contest for students to design a logo for the boat.

"This visit allows the crew to continue to pitch the State's high school and college students to submit an entry to the ship's logo contest, sponsored by the Twin Cities Council, Navy League of the United States. The deadline for submitting an entry is November 1 and the winner is expected to be announced in December," said Fancher.

During their visit the Sailors will meet with 50 students from Olson Middle School who are developing a logo for the contest.

"The Sailors will also visit Bloomington Jefferson High School to meet with students taking history, science and math classes," said Fancher.

Other students from Coon Rapids High School will meet Sailors who will review their completed entries for the PCU Minnesota logo contest.

Sailors will also man the rails at the St. Michael's Albertville High School football game and participating in a local 5k race. They will cap off their trip at the Navy League's Navy Birthday ball.

The logo contest will provide an opportunity for students, ages 16-22, to win a college scholarship, if their logo is selected. The winning logo, selected by the submarine's crewmembers, will be used as the primary insignia for the submarine.

Under construction and planned for delivery in 2013, Minnesota will be the 10th of a projected class of 30 Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

In 2008, the Navy announced it would name this 10th submarine for the state of Minnesota. The selection of Minnesota honors the state's citizens and their continued support to the nation's military.

McNabb Passes Transcom Command to Fraser

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2011 – Presiding today at the change of command at U.S. Transportation Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey hailed a logistics enterprise Panetta called the backbone of the U.S. military.

Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb passed command to Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III during the ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Panetta praised McNabb for his military leadership of a support structure upon which he said every other military operation depends.

“Very simply, … we could not do our missions and defend America without you,” he said. “No one goes anywhere, no one fights anywhere, no one stays anywhere without your support.”

The secretary cited the scope of that support last year alone. Transcom conducted more than 37,000 airlift missions, transported more than 2.3 million passengers by air and 29 million short tons of cargo by air and sea. Meanwhile, it kept combat units in both Afghanistan and Iraq supplied with food, fuel and spare parts, moved troops into the combat zone and evacuated the wounded.

Troops in the field “don’t ever need to worry about whether or not they have what they need, because you never stop delivering,” Panetta said.

He praised McNabb’s vision in establishing the northern distribution network through which nearly half all ground cargo now flows into Afghanistan.

Dempsey recalled that during his tenure as acting commander of U.S. Central Command, he saw McNabb’s efficiency in setting up the network to better support the Afghanistan mission. McNabb also introduced innovative air-dropping procedures to ensure troops in remote sites had all they needed while reducing the risks associated with ground convoys.

“We really are the only military in the world where, if we call for something, if we ask for something, if we need something on the battlefield, we are going to get it,” the chairman said. “And about nine times out of 10, it will get there because of Transcom.

“We consider you the strength of our forces,” he said of the Transcom team. “We couldn’t be the armed forces we are without them.”

Panetta noted that while Transcom provided “truly extraordinary and unceasing” support to these and other military operations, its members jumped into high gear whenever disasters struck around the world. The secretary rattled off examples of humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts made possible by Transcom: the Haiti earthquake; the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan; floods in Pakistan and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, among them.

“This command, under their great leader, stepped up and delivered,” Panetta said.

Panetta called Fraser a “proven and effective leader” who brings a wealth of experience to the job as he follows in McNabb’s footsteps.

McNabb, who is slated to retire Nov. 30, told Fraser he is taking command of “the best of the best.”

“You are being entrusted with one of our nation’s greatest asymmetric advantages: the strategic ability to move,” he said. “You have a championship team behind you, and I know you will be great.”

Fraser said he hopes to build on McNabb’s momentum as takes command at a challenging time – with continued high operational demands as well as new fiscal ones. Living up to them, he said, will require the entire Transcom team that has earned a reputation for getting the job done.

“Transcom, you deliver,” Fraser said. “It’s not the planes. It’s not the trains, the ships or the trucks that make amazing things happen. It is the people. You are the lifeline of the warfighter.”

NH Jacksonville Receives World Health Organization, UNICEF 'Baby Friendly' Designation

By Tami Begasse, Naval Hospital Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital (NH) Jacksonville was designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as one of only 119 baby friendly U.S. medical facilities during a press conference at the hospital Oct. 13 aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

As an officially designated Baby Friendly facility by Baby Friendly USA, a global initiative sponsored by WHO/UNICEF, -NH Jacksonville successfully implemented the recommended ten steps of a comprehensive breastfeeding program according to Baby-Friendly USA Executive Director Trish MacEnroe.

"The administration and staff of Naval Hospital Jacksonville are to be commended for their outstanding work in adopting policies and practices to support better breastfeeding," she said. "Baby-Friendly USA extends our heartiest congratulations as we confer to them the prestigious WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly designation. Hospitals play a vital role in helping mothers and babies successfully establish breastfeeding. Breast milk lays the best possible foundation for a lifetime of good health. It contains substances that cannot be reproduced artificially. As a result, infants who are not breastfed are more likely to incur a multitude of health problems that take a human toll and cost our health care system billions of dollars annually."

The Baby-Friendly designation is given after a rigorous on-site survey is completed. The award is maintained by continuing to practice these 10 steps as demonstrated by quality processes. The comprehensive program includes initiating breastfeeding in the first hour of life, keeping mothers and babies in the same room, and support groups for women who breastfeed.

On average, 80 percent of mothers who delivered at NH Jacksonville were exclusively breastfeeding their babies when they left the hospital, something NH Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Lynn Welling said is vital to ensuring the health of its patients-from birth to retirement.

"We want to do all we can to improve the health of our youngest heroes and encourage the use of mother's milk for the more than 1,000 babies born in our hospital each year," he said. "This prestigious international recognition, illustrates our commitment to supporting a mother's decision to breast feed and ultimately helping reduce the risks of common childhood infections, asthma and diabetes."

While more than 20,000 facilities have received the Baby Friendly designation worldwide, only 119 facilities (including NH Jacksonville) have been certified in the United States. Along with being the first hospital in Northeast Florida, NH Jacksonville is the third military facility and the fourth hospital in Florida, which is something Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll recognized.

"Thank you for answering U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin's 'call-to-action' to health care professionals, communities, families and employers," she said. "Your commitment to this designation will ensure a healthier population of women and children, and will better prepare even the youngest Floridians with the best start possible."

Benjamin included UNICEF/WHO's Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in her national prevention strategy rolled out earlier this year at the Health and Human Services Consumer Health IT Summit.

The importance of following Baby Friendly steps is echoed by Heather Huffman, chair of the Northeast Florida Breastfeeding Collaborative.

"As the First Coast's first hospital to receive this prestigious international recognition, Naval Hospital Jacksonville has again demonstrated its commitment to providing our nation's heroes and their family members with the best possible care," Benjamin said. "Whether a health care professional, member of the community, employer or family member, I would encourage and challenge us as a community to strive to improve breastfeeding rates and increase our support for breastfeeding. I congratulate Naval Hospital Jacksonville on its efforts to support new mothers and provide babies with the best possible start in life."

According the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of an infant's life can offer many health benefits for babies and mothers, including a reduction in infectious diseases and mortality during infancy, improved bonding and increased postpartum weight loss. Breastfeeding also helps reduce the risks of common childhood infections, asthma, diabetes and other conditions that children who get mother's milk are less likely to develop. It saves time and money for families in both baby formula and medical costs. Low rates of breastfeeding cost an estimated $2.2 billion dollars in medical costs.

NH Jacksonville's priority since its founding in 1941 is to heal the nation's heroes and their families. The command is comprised of the hospital, located aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and five branch health clinics in Florida (Jacksonville, Key West and Mayport) and Georgia (Albany and Kings Bay). Of its patient population-215,000 active and retired Sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen, National Guard members and their families-more than 57,000 are enrolled with a primary care manager at one of its facilities. Each and every day, a dedicated team of 2,500 military and civilian personnel sees 1,500 outpatients, admits 12 inpatients, cares for 125 people in the ER, performs 19 same-day surgeries, fills 3,600 prescriptions, conducts 3,000 lab tests and delivers two to three babies. Additionally, up to 15 percent of its active duty staff is deployed around the globe providing combat, humanitarian and disaster care.