Military News

Friday, October 28, 2011

Belvoir Hospital Shows U.S. Loves Troops, Stanley Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., Oct. 28, 2011 – The military’s new state-of-the-art community hospital here is a testament to the love Americans feel for service members and their families, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness said today.

 “We’re in a nation now that cares deeply about people in uniform,” Clifford L. Stanley told hundreds of people who gathered here for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, which opened last month.

Stanley spoke to a crowd of dignitaries, hospital workers, service members and civilians who gathered outside the hospital on a crisp, fall morning. The Army’s Golden Knights parachute team jumped into a cloudless, blue sky and the Navy Band and Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps played as part of the celebration of the hospital’s opening, part of a five-year base realignment and closure effort.

The occasion, Stanley said, held both professional and personal meaning to him. The staff at Dewitt Army Community Hospital once saved the life of his wife, a paraplegic who had developed sepsis, he explained. Also, Stanley grew up visiting the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where his mother was a nurse practitioner, and his daughter is a Navy nurse at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

The nation has been “so fortunate and blessed” to have the kind of modern medicine and technology showcased at the new Belvoir hospital that allows people to live longer and better with their injuries, the undersecretary said.

Army Col. Susan Annicelli, commander of the new hospital, said the staff of more than 3,000 underwent a “herculean effort” amid a hurricane, earthquake and floods in the late summer and early fall to move out of DeWitt Army Community Hospital here and into the new facility, which is triple the size of the old hospital.

Navy Adm. John M. Mateczun, commander of Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical, said the hospital offers 25 new medical specialties from the old hospital, is environmentally friendly, and gives patients more control. Patients may control lighting and temperatures in their rooms, and will be notified of each professional’s name and occupation as they enter the room, he said.

“This is America’s newest, most extraordinary, most technically advanced facility, and we’re glad to have it in the military health system,” Mateczun said.

Acupuncture Treatment Helps Ease TBI Symptoms In Theater

By Robyn Mincher, DCoE Strategic Communications

In a clinic at Joint Base Andrews, Md., military health care providers practiced treatments to relieve head pain. Instead of writing a prescription for medication, providers learned to use a treatment rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and practiced for thousands of years: acupuncture. Retired Air Force Col. Richard C. Niemtzow, former president of American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, trained providers to locate pressure points within the ears and insert small needles on designated points inside them.

I spoke with Niemtzow about battlefield acupuncture, a technique that has advanced from the doctor’s office to the battlefield, treating service members with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) quickly and efficiently. The practice can interrupt the process of pain in the central nervous system.

“Like western medicine, it’s another tool in a medical bag,” Niemtzow said.

The tool was supported by Department of Veterans Affairs for a formal study on acupuncture’s effectiveness on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mTBI. The department’s recent clinical guidance recommends acupuncture as a supplementary therapy for PTSD, anxiety, pain and sleeplessness.

Air Force Col. Stephen Sharp, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) deputy director of TBI clinical standards of care, spoke about the benefits of battlefield acupuncture. He worked with Niemtzow treating warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Md.

“The treatment is really useful for treating headache and sleep issues, as well as other associated pain,” said Sharp. “Additionally, it can be used to treat psychological health concerns, which can occur with mTBI.”

The technique uses only five points on each ear and can ease mTBI symptoms within minutes, which can help a service member recover faster and stay with their unit.

“The advantage of acupuncture in theater is that it’s quick, easily done and uses no equipment except a few tiny needles. It also doesn’t have the potential side effects of some medications,” said Sharp. “Often, treatment begins two to three times per week, and then weans down depending on response.”

As battlefield acupuncture continues to become more accessible to service members, a provider might be met with skepticism when offering a treatment involving needles to an unaccustomed service member (even though it’s painless). How can a provider convince a service member to try the unique therapy?

“Start treatment with auricular electrical acupuncture, because it is painless,” Niemtzow said. “Once the patient gains confidence that the acupuncture is helpful, reapproach the subject of needles.”

Auricular electrical acupuncture uses electrical stimulation on pressure points on the ear.

The journal Medical Acupuncture published Niemtzow’s article “Battlefield Acupuncture” and his update about acupuncture with electrical stimulation.

The American Forces Network Afghanistan recently released a video that shows the advantages of acupuncture therapy. We also wrote a blog post about the acupuncture program offered to service members and veterans at Deployment Health Clinical Center, a DCoE component center, and a blog post on complementary alternative medicine last week.

Ride 2 Recovery: Veterans Leave Jacksonville on 350 Mile Ride

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Southeast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 200 cyclists, injured veterans and their supporters gathered at Mayo Clinic Oct. 25 and began the six-day, 350-mile Ride 2 Recovery Florida Challenge that will end in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Cyclists will ride across central Florida with overnight stops in St. Augustine, Gainesville, Daytona, Cape Canaveral, Orlando, Winter Haven and finishing in Tampa Oct. 30.

Mayo Clinic physician Dr. John D. Casler served as the master of ceremonies for the event and as a guest speaker. He served 25 years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and reflected on his service at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad and how honored he was to support the Ride 2 Recovery event.

"This is a great event. It brings together a lot of soldiers and fellow well wishers who are trying to do everything they can to help rehabilitate our wounded veterans; who have given so much for our country and bear the scars for the rest of their lives," said Casler. "This is a small token, a way that we can say thank you and help them on the road to recovery."

Many of the cyclists are returning participants, like retired Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Nathan DeWalt, who was injured in a motorcycle accident while awaiting deployment to Afghanistan.

DeWalt said the program has made a huge difference in his life and he hopes to help others like him benefit from the program.

"I have been with Ride 2 Recovery for about a year and a half now and I have done every ride since then. The rehabilitative aspect of the program is just remarkable because it takes people from all walks of life, from all over the country with different injuries and brings us together. We come together and we don't have to explain ourselves," said DeWalt.

He and many other veterans said the program changed their lives for the better.

"You come here for the camaraderie, for the healing and the bike riding. That's what the program is about," said DeWalt.

Ride 2 Recovery helps injured veterans heal through the challenge of cycling long distances using hand cycles, recumbents, tandems and traditional road bikes. The program helps veterans with physical and psychological rehabilitation and creates a network where service members have a support system of people just like them that understand what they are going through.

"You make new friends and take back great memories with you from these rides," said DeWalt. "Ride 2 Recovery has really changed my life and I'm proud to say that I have become a mentor to a lot of people here and I inspire some of the new riders here and help them progress."

Ponte Vedra local Greg Towns stood by until the last veteran rode away and said he will go all the way to Tampa to watch them finish.

"It is a very emotional thing for me to see these men and women. They have given so much for this country and the people who live in it. They continue to motivate and inspire themselves and the people around them," said Towns. "Seeing them through to the end is the least we can do for them."

Cyber Defense Requires Teamwork, Agility, Alexander Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2011 – The commander of U.S. Cyber Command called for increased collaboration among the government, industry and America’s allies in developing more defensible networks to confront escalating global cyber threats.

Current network security protections aren’t nimble enough to defend against the exploding number of threats, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander told government, academic and private-sector professionals yesterday at the Security Innovation Network’s Showcase 2011 conference here.

Firewalls, routers, antivirus software and intrusion detection systems are designed to identify and block specific cyber-intruder signatures, Alexander said. The problem, he noted, is that adversaries have the ability to scan the networks, exploit vulnerabilities and use them to gain access.

“It’s like the Maginot Line,” Alexander explained, referring to the fortifications France built along its border with Germany after World War I with hopes of preventing another cross-border attack. Germany responded during World War II by doing the unexpected: attacking instead through the Ardennes Forest.

“That’s the same thing that happens in your network,” Alexander said, noting in cyberspace adversaries have “all the advantages.” They can scan networks, he said, and identify what software is being run, and pounce when they identify a vulnerability.

“That’s the dynamic we have to change,” Alexander said.

“We are the guys who helped create the Internet. We are the ones that built that. We ought to be the first ones to secure it.”

The White House’s International Strategy for Cyberspace and Defense Department strategy represent a start in that direction, Alexander said. But he emphasized that developing more defensible systems isn’t something the Defense Department or any other entity can do alone.

It requires government agencies working as a team, he said, while also working with industry and U.S. allies and partners.

“When we talk cyber, we talk a team sport,” Alexander said. “It’s all of us operating as a team to defend the country in cyberspace, with the right legal authorities.”

Alexander cited the explosion of network communications around the world. As of March 31, 30 percent of the world population had access to the Internet. During 2010, 107 trillion emails were sent -- that’s 294 billion per day. By 2015, he said, it’s predicted that there will be twice as many Internet devices as people on the planet.

Such growth, the general said, has created vulnerabilities which leave no sector immune -- from hackings at well-respected companies such as Nasdaq, RSA Security and Booz Allen Hamilton to denial-of-service attacks in Estonia, Georgia and elsewhere.

For every company that recognizes it has been hacked, Alexander said, hundreds more don’t.

Among the costs is a huge loss of intellectual property through what Alexander called “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.” But the bigger fear, he said, is that disruptive attacks will turn destructive.

Alexander noted initiatives under way that show promise in countering these growing threats. For example, he said, “cloud” computing delivers shared resources and software through virtual routers, machines and networks [and] enables faster server updates and more agile responses than legacy databases.

Meanwhile, a pilot program in which the Defense Department shares classified threat intelligence with industry is helping to increase military cyber defenses and preventing enemy intrusions into other sensitive government networks.

Alexander called the Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot, launched in partnership with the Homeland Security Department, “a huge step” that’s blocked intrusions and identified signatures that hadn’t been previously seen.

“The intent is to push signatures to the Internet service providers and protect vulnerabilities,” he said. “We are having success with that.”

Lauding progress in network protections, Alexander emphasized that they can’t come at the cost of civil liberties and privacy rights.

“We should demand that we get both,” he said. “In my opinion, we can do that. We can protect civil liberties and privacy and come up with a defensive program that we can defend this country and our companies in cyberspace.”

Face of Defense: Marine Honors Fallen, Injured Troops

By Marine Corps Pfc. Franklin E. Mercado
2nd Marine Logistics Group

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant James J. Dacey is running 345 miles to honor and to raise public awareness for the nation’s fallen and wounded warriors.

Dacey -- a 12-year Marine veteran who serves here with Support Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion -- left Camp Lejeune Oct. 22 and is running to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“The reason for this event is to assist men and women who have sacrificed so much for our great country,” Dacey wrote on his website. “The physical and psychological wounds incurred by these warriors are nothing short of heroic. It is with honor for my brothers- and sisters-in-arms [that] I embark on this endeavor to ease their burden, if only for a brief moment.”

Dacey said he plans to complete his journey to Maryland on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. He added that he hopes to raise $100,000 for injured service members through donations to the nonprofit Wounded Warrior Project.

The Marine’s mother, Debbie Melamed, who’s also the safety driver for the run, said she had no doubt her son would take on the challenge.

“I’m very proud of my son,” Melamed said. “I’m not surprised he’s doing it. He has never second-guessed himself, either. Once he said he was going to do it, that was it. He’s always been a determined person ever since I can remember.”

Melamed was given three weeks of leave from her job at a law firm in Hackensack, N.J., to help her son along his run.

“I was amazed he asked me to be the one to help him,” she said. “This is a huge responsibility, and I’m very proud of him for what he’s doing in honor of his fellow troops.”

As her son runs his course, Melamed drives ahead and checks the route for him. She pauses at the halfway point each day to ensure all is well. If Dacey isn’t at the halfway point within a certain amount of time, his mother said, she’ll backtrack and check on him.

“We’ve taken the right steps to make sure we are ready for the run,” Dacey said. “Safety was a big concern.”

With his mother ready to go and on her way to the halfway point for the day, Dacey left Camp Lejeune and bid farewell to the people who came to see him off.

“Thank you to everyone who came to watch me begin,” he said. “Thank you for all the support.”

As Dacey ran down the road, well-wishers sent him off with a motivational “Oorah!”

Official Navy Representatives to Greet All Returning IAs at BWI Airport

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Kuzlik, Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center Public Affairs

BALTIMORE (NNS) -- Returning individual augmentees (IAs) can add Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport to the list of airports that have Navy representatives from Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center (ECRC) greeting them as of Oct. 5

All IAs, including Global War on Terror Support Assignments, Overseas Contingency Operation Support Assignments, Individual Augmentee Manpower Management, and mobilized Reservists are met on their return from deployment.

Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center set up an information and greeting kiosk at BWI to welcome all returning IAs and assist them in executing their follow-on transportation plan. ECRC representatives strive to make each IA's return to CONUS as smooth and seamless as possible. All IAs, regardless of type, must report to their designated Navy Mobilization Processing Site for demobilization.

"BWI is the first CONUS airport our Central Command (CENTCOM) returnees reach," said ECRC Commanding Officer Capt. Eric Jabs. "It is the ideal location to greet them and make certain the rest of their travel is confirmed.

"Typically, four to five personnel are deployed to Baltimore Washington International Airport for a given mission," said Jabs. "We have great continual communication with the Warrior Transition Program in Kuwait, so we know exactly who to expect on the flights, and their follow-on flight status."

On a recent flight to BWI, there were 141 Sailors who returned on the rotator flight from CENTCOM, including 55 Reservists.

"It was a nice welcome home," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Eric Name, from Navy Operational Support Center, Rochester, N.Y. "Stepping off of that plane and seeing my fellow Sailors made me feel welcome and that the job I did in Iraq didn't go unnoticed. It was like a hero's welcome home!"

Jabs added that this is a team effort.

"We would really like to thank all the supporting organizations that make this operation a success: our USO volunteers at all the airports, Operation 'Welcome Home Maryland,' and the BWI airport authorities for the spaces, kiosk, parking, and other arrangements," Jabs said. "Plus Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Baltimore for allowing us to set up a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in their facility, and U.S. Fleet Forces Command for their continued support of this effort."

ECRC directly assists IA Sailors by ensuring they are properly equipped while coordinating with the Army to ensure they get the proper stateside training. ECRC provides logistic support by coordinating IA Sailors' return home through the redeployment/demobilization process, helping get Sailors home expeditiously and safely.

CARAT Cambodia Enables Return to Homeland for Three Sailors

Discover these Vietnam Veteran books written by Vietnam veterans who served in Cambodia.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Clowney, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- When U.S. and royal Cambodian navies began their 2nd annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia exercise Oct. 20, three Sailors assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) were looking forward to the week ahead more than others. For them, it would be their first visit to their ancestral homeland.

Gas Turbine Systems Technician 3rd Class Channy Sath, Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Suorth Suom, and Storekeeper 2nd Class Sokchamroeun Yous were born in, or grew up in, the U.S. after their parents fled the genocide of Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia from 1975-1979, and the nearly two decades of civil war that followed. Sath grew up in Lowell, Mass; Suom in Philadelphia, and Yous in Texas. All three eventually joined the Navy and, in a twist of good fortune, were able to visit their homeland when Kidd was selected to participate in CARAT Cambodia.

"This is my first time to visit Cambodia," Suom said, explaining how his family slipped across the border with Thailand in 1979 to escape the war. "My family, they miss the country and their way of life before the war."

For Sath, whose family left Cambodia for America in 1990, the visit was an opportunity to meet several relatives, for the first time.

"My dad used to tell me about Cambodia, and how I was fortunate to come to America, because the war was unforgettable," Sath said. "I was really happy knowing that we were coming to Cambodia, and I was looking forward to meeting my family members I've never seen."

While in Cambodia, Sath was given special liberty to travel to Phnom Penh, the nation's capital, and to Siem Reap to stay with family. "I couldn't help it - when we saw each other we all started crying. My family members were so happy that I had come to visit them."

For Yous, the exercise presented an opportunity to embark a royal Cambodian navy patrol craft for the first dedicated at-sea naval exercise between Cambodia and the U.S. Navy in nearly 40 years.

Though he didn't get to visit relatives on this trip, Suom said the experience was unforgettable. "I was excited to come here, even though I just stayed in the Sihanoukville area," he said. "I was excited and humbled to come here."

Approximately 400 U.S. Sailors are participating in CARAT Cambodia 2011. Two U.S. ships, Kidd and the dive and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), are participating.

CARAT is a series of annual, bilateral maritime exercises between the U.S. Navy and the Armed Forces of Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.