Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Day in Naval History - Nov. 15

From the Navy News Service

1882 - Lt. Cmdr. French Chadwick reports to American Legation in London as first naval attache.
1942 - Although U.S. lost several ships in the naval battle of Guadalcanal, Naval Force under Rear Adm. Willlis Lee, USS Washington (BB 56), turns back Japanese transports trying to reinforce Guadalcanal. The Japanese never again try to send large naval forces to Guadalcanal.
1960 - First Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine, USS George Washington (SSBN 598), leaves Charleston, S.C., on initial fleet ballistic missile patrol.

First Lady to Vets: ‘America Does Have Your Back’

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama continues to keep service members, their families and veterans in the minds of the American public while pushing to secure more jobs for veterans and military spouses.

Speaking yesterday at a jobs fair at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, the first lady spoke about the “Joining Forces” campaign and creating more jobs for veterans.

“What we're doing through Joining Forces is rallying all of America to recognize and honor and support our veterans and military families,” she said. “As part of this effort, we've issued a simple challenge to America's businesses -- we've asked them to step up and hire as many veterans and military spouses as they can.”

The first lady said the response to this challenge has been “overwhelming.”

“The Chamber of Commerce has sponsored veterans hiring fairs like this one,” she said. “And they've connected more than 44,000 veterans to more than 2,200 employers in 36 states. And they're going to keep doing it.”

Obama also talked about other tools used to assist military veterans in finding employment.

“We've also launched a website called vetjobbank.com, where you can find veteran-friendly jobs online,” she said. “And that site currently lists more than half a million jobs just waiting to be filled right now.”

The first lady lauded service members for their work ethic and aptitude and said businesses need their skills.

“I know that all of you are some of the highest-skilled, hardest-working, most dedicated employees that we have in this country,” she said. “And that's important for this country to know.

“You all have mastered state of the art technologies [and] run some of the world's most complex operations,” she added.

She noted that the president believes strongly that the nation needs to step up in putting veterans to work.

“As my husband said, ‘No one who's fought for our country abroad should have to fight for a job when they return home,’” she said.

The first lady cited companies such as Siemens and Sears for having hired hundreds of veterans.

“Kmart and Sam's Club have promised to help military spouses keep their jobs if their family is assigned to a new duty station,” Obama said. “In the past month, American businesses have stepped forward with pledges to hire 125,000 additional veterans and military spouses by 2014.”

Meanwhile, she added, each time “we have asked someone to get involved and step up, we've gotten the same answer -- absolutely yes.”

The first lady noted when people are asked, they are stepping up with no hesitation.

“Companies are lining up to sign on,” she said. “They're challenging themselves and each other to do more.”

Obama also noted the president’s proposed tax credit for small businesses that hire veterans.

“And he's working with Secretary [Eric K.] Shinseki and the Veterans Affairs Department to improve the transition process,” she said. “That's something that we hear from you all quite often -- the transition resources have to be better so that you all have the resources and support as you prepare to enter civilian life.”

The first lady said there’s one thing in particular that she wants every veteran, spouse and family member to know.

“America does have your back,” she said. Meanwhile, she encouraged veterans and their families to keep working hard.

“Make no mistake about it, you all represent the very best this country has to offer,” she said. “And that is my goal -- to make sure that everyone in this country understands that.”

Wisconsin Challenge Academy plans open house in Milwaukee

Wisconsin Challenge Academy representatives will conduct an open house and informational session Monday, Nov. 21 for applicants to the academy's next class, which begins Jan. 12, 2012. The event will be held at the National Guard armory, 4108 N. Richards St., from 3-7 p.m.

From 3-5 p.m. Challenge Academy staff members, cadets, and parents of cadets will be available to speak with teens and parents who have an interest in the academy and to assist them with the application process. Educators, health and social services personnel, and juvenile justice officers are also welcome to visit at that time. A presentation by admissions personnel for potential candidates will begin at 5:30 p.m.

The tuition-free Challenge Academy offers "at-risk" youth the opportunity to change the direction of their lives. Challenge Academy cadets participate in the academy's eight core components - academic instruction leading to a Wisconsin High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED); job skills training; physical fitness; health, hygiene and nutrition; leadership; life-coping skills; responsible citizenship; and service to community.

The program is for male and female applicants at least 16 years, 9 months, but not yet 19 years old, who have been expelled, dropped out of high school or, due to truancy, have fallen more than one year behind in credits. Applicants must not be currently charged with or previously convicted of a felony and must not be on adult parole or probation. Cadets attend voluntarily - the academy is not open to placement by court order.

New London Area School Children Create Holiday Cards for the White House

By Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg, Commander, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

See the best United States Navy books written by real Navy veterans for more stories of patriotism and heroism.

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- New London military children are designing holiday cards honoring their service member parent and sending them to the White House, Nov. 15.

The children are designing unique holiday cards in response to First Lady Michelle Obama's request to receive creative cards from military children from throughout the world.

"Submitting these holiday cards gives them an opportunity to have their work shown on a national level as well as validation that their work is on display at the White House," said Karen Bryer, assistant principal, Charles Barnum Elementary School.

Bryer said that all 396 students enrolled at Charles Barnum will submit holidays cards to the White House for the first time this year.

A first grader in Amy Nixon's class summarized it best when describing the task at hand. "We are making pictures of our mommies and daddies for the president and Mrs. Obama to put on the Christmas tree," said Amelia, one of 22 students enrolled in Nixon's first grade class.

Sherry Hanks, third-grade teacher at Charles Barnum said her students were inspired to create holiday cards based on the Veterans Day tribute Nov. 10 and their guest speaker, Capt. Bruce Derenski, commander, Submarine Group 2 representative at General Dynamics Electric Boat who explained how receiving letters from home helped him during his individual augmentee deployment.

"My students are each writing holiday cards to a military person; we all were inspired by Capt. Derenski's speech and the kids could really relate to him," said Hanks.

Hanks added that of the 26 students in her classroom, 24 have a parent serving in the military. "These cards will make someone feel good," said Hanks.

Catherine Hanson, community coordinator at Charles Barnum, added that it is an honor for the New London-area based military to be recognized for their service.

"We're honored to have their parents' service recognized by the White House," said Hanson.

Twenty percent of the children enrolled district-wide has a parent currently serving in the military. At Charles Barnum Elementary School, more than 90 percent of the children have a parent serving in the military.

In addition to Charles Barnum Elementary School, Naval Submarine Base New London Youth Center is also collecting cards created by military children to send to the White House.

Pentagon Monitors Air Force Review of Dover Mortuary

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has directed that the Air Force report back to him in 30 days on disciplinary action taken against employees at the Dover Port Mortuary in Delaware.

Panetta asked Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley to update him on the Air Force review of disciplinary action taken against employees who last year filed complaints about how some service member remains were handled at the facility, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.

The Air Force inspector general and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel -- an independent federal “watchdog” agency -- investigated the charges. A former commander and two other mortuary officials were disciplined as a result of the investigation, Defense Department officials said.

The Air Force implemented multiple corrective actions as a result of the investigation, officials said.

Little noted the Office of Special Counsel also is reviewing past disciplinary actions and current procedures at the mortuary. The OSC’s work is still ongoing, and the Air Force report will proceed in parallel, the press secretary added.

“The Air Force report won’t and shouldn’t go final until the OSC report is complete,” Little said.

During a Nov. 10 news conference, Panetta said he wants special attention paid to possible management reprisals taken against those employees.

“As someone who voted for the whistleblower legislation, I directed Secretary Donley to report back to me … to ensure that all appropriate action has been taken,” Panetta said.

The defense secretary also emphasized that one of the military’s most profound obligations is to treat service members’ remains with dignity and respect.

U.S. Aid Flows for Turkey Earthquake Relief

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2011 – Pentagon-provided aid to Turkey continues to flow, following two recent earthquakes that shook that country’s eastern region, a senior Defense Department official said today.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters that 110 winterized tents have been shipped in response to the Turkish government’s request for assistance.

Blankets, cots, sleeping bags, hygiene kits and other relief supplies were dispatched to Turkey after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Oct. 23, Little said. A magnitude 5.7 tremor struck the area Nov. 9.