Military News

Friday, November 18, 2011

Navy’s YouTube Video Warns Against ‘Spice’ Drug

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – A new YouTube video developed by the Navy warns service members about the synthetic marijuana known as spice, and how use of the designer drug can negatively impact their health and military careers.

Every military service bans the use of spice, which is comprised of organic leaves coated with synthetic chemicals. Spice is marketed as a safe way to get high while avoiding detection during drug tests.

Officials emphasized in the video that both spice selling points are false.

“The damage these drugs do to your mind, body and career is permanent,” said Navy Rear Adm. Michael H. Anderson, medical officer to the Marine Corps. “It’s not legal. It’s not healthy. It’s not worth it.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a decision in March making spice illegal nationwide for at least a year. According to the DEA’s website, the agency took the action as an emergency measure in light of the alarming number of reports about spice-type substances it received from poison control centers, hospitals and law enforcement agencies.

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh sent a memo to the Army community in February prohibiting the use and possession of synthetic cannabis and other substitutes for THC -- shorthand for tetrahydrocannabinol -- the substance in marijuana that causes a “high.”

Air Force officials released guidance in June 2010 banning the use or possession of spice. The new language was incorporated in Air Force Instruction 44-121 that governs the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program.

Spice and other designer drugs also fall under Navy and Marine Corps zero tolerance policies.

Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., the Navy’s surgeon general and chief of the service’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, emphasized that abstinence isn’t enough to confront the spice problem. Like those who use, possess or distribute spice, anyone who observes these practices and doesn’t report them can be charged with violating the Navy’s policies as well.

“It is not good enough to simply police our own actions with regards to spice and other designer drugs,” he said. “These drugs are dangerous, and we learn more about their damaging effects each day. It is essential that every sailor and Marine be looking out for their colleagues to prevent injury to their health and their careers.”

The military services have the authority to prosecute violators under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The forensic toxicology division within the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner tests for spice and other designer drugs at the request of the services. The challenge, explained spokesman Paul Stone, is that with so many different formulas, and new compositions introduced regularly, it’s difficult for testers to keep ahead of the new formulas.

Robinson emphasized that commanding officers don’t need a positive urinalysis to begin the process of removing violators from military service.

Anderson reiterated the point in the YouTube video.

“Because this is a moving target and some chemicals will not show up in routine testing, commanding officers do not need a positive urinalysis to begin administrative separation,” he said.

Like other synthetic drugs including “K2” and “Blaze,” spice is developed using chemicals not intended for human consumption, the video notes. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate these substances, which means they aren’t subject to oversight during the manufacturing process.

Little is known about the toxicology and safety of designer drugs, officials said. However, they noted side effects such as elevated heart rates and blood pressure, breathing problems, abdominal pain, seizures, extreme anxiety and other emotional problems.

In the most extreme situations, spice has been linked to heart attacks, psychosis and suicides, officials said.

2011 Phoenix Award Announced

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced the 2011 winner of the Phoenix Award, part of the 2011 Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards, on Nov. 16, 2011, at the 2011 DoD Maintenance Symposium and Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas.  The field-level maintenance award honors military maintenance organizations for outstanding performance.  The awardee is chosen from active and reserve organizations performing unit or field-level maintenance and singled out as the best of the best.

The 2011 winner of the Phoenix Award for field-level maintenance is the Marine Corps’ Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 (VMAQ-1) at Cherry Point, N.C.  VMAQ-1 deployed on short notice to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and immediately established self-sufficient support and sustainment.  The squadron’s intermediate maintenance support detachment of 26 Marines built facilities from the ground up.  During its six-month Operation Enduring Freedom deployment, VMAQ-1 flew 590 sorties for a total of 2,293 flight hours; a 340 percent increase over normal operations and a 99.8 percent sortie completion rate.  Overcoming a scarcity of equipment, manpower, and resources, the maintenance department maintained an 84.9 percent mission capable rate for squadron aircraft, exceeding all previous deployment records.  In addition, using AIRSpeed and other innovative maintenance practices, the squadron decreased the normal yearly cost for ordered components by half, from $11 million to $5.8 million.

Military Mom Cares for Triple Amputee Son

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

SAN ANTONIO, – Saralee Trimble hunches over a craft table, meticulously weaving thin strips of material together to form a basket.

The room is noisy with TVs blaring and people chatting and laughing, but her concentration is unbroken as she focuses on her task.

For just a few brief moments, this mom of five is simply focused on piecing together a basket, rather than the life that was nearly lost to her on a roadside in Afghanistan.

Trimble’s son, Army Pfc. Kevin Trimble, was just four months into his deployment when a fellow soldier standing three feet away stepped on a homemade bomb. The soldier was killed and Trimble lost both of his legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow.

Trimble was at home in New Orleans when she got the phone call. It’s a call, she said with tears welling up, that she’ll never forget.

The and her husband, Daniel, were told their son had been injured and was in serious condition, but was stable and alert. Shocked at the news, they focused on the positive. “The most important thing was he was alert,” she said.

After a few days in Germany, her son arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center here on Sept. 24, and Trimble, her husband and her children rushed there to greet him.

The toughest moment, Trimble said, was when she saw her son for the first time. “I wanted to cry,” she said, again tearing up at the recollection. “It was heavy, real heavy.”

Not wanting to convey their shock, she and her husband went out in the hall, held each other and cried. Her son had dreamed of being a soldier for as long as she could remember, and joined right out of high school. She knew how devastating this injury would be to him as a man, and a soldier.

“It was really hard,” she said. “He’s 19; he’s my baby.” She then thought of her other children. Four of her five children are in the service: one in the Air Force, two in the Army and one in the Marine Corps Reserve.

Two have deployed multiple times and one expects to go soon, she said. “I thought of Kevin and then, ‘What about them?’”

The Long Recovery
Trimble steeled herself for the long recovery road ahead. Her electrician husband returned home to a foreman job they couldn’t afford for him to lose, and she settled in at the hospital. She grimaced as she recollected those early days of recovery.

“It was very traumatic, no way around it, it just is,” she said.

Trimble said her son was boiling hot all the time so they placed ice packs on his shoulders and constantly doused his face and neck with cold water. He was on pain medication, but even that couldn’t fully prevent the pain. “You can’t avoid it; it’s part of it,” she said.

Throughout, Kevin remained positive, Trimble said, with only a few moments of despair. “A few times he’s broken down and said, ‘Mom, look at me. What good am I?’”

In those moments, Trimble said all she could do was pray with her son and assure him he’d be OK. She never, even from the start, had a doubt that he’d pull through, she said.

Trimble said her son reached a turning point when a group of wounded warriors, including several triple amputees, came to see him at his bedside. “That encouraged him so much to see other guys the same as him who were actually getting around and able to do something,” she said.

Kevin checked out of the hospital less than two months after his injury, and is about to start his therapy at the Center for the Intrepid, a state-of-the-art rehabilitation center just steps away from the hospital.

He’s had one two-hour physical therapy session so far, Trimble said, and that one “wiped him out.” “They had him getting from the wheelchair onto the floor and then back up,” she said, noting that’s no easy feat with just one arm. “When he came back he didn’t want to do nothing but sleep.

“But that’s good,” she added. “He needs that challenge.”

Next up, he’ll be fitted for a prosthetic arm, and later prosthetic legs. The sooner he can use his limbs and gain independence, the better, Trimble said.

Meanwhile, she is helping him get acclimated to his “new normal” by taking him on outings, whether it’s to Sea World or to play miniature golf. He had a great time golfing, she said, but was saddened by the children’s stares.

“I told him, ‘You know you’re going to have that the rest of your life,’” she said. “‘You are different from everyone else, but that doesn’t say who you are. You still are who you are.’”

The Challenges of Caregiving
It’s been a rough couple of months and Trimble acknowledged the stress that accompanies full-time caregiving. Fearful of the devastating impact of a fall, she isn’t comfortable yet leaving her son alone. And she only has brief respites during appointments or when one of her children is there to help. But even a short break can provide a big recharge, she said.

When she’s not by her son’s side, Trimble finds respite, and solace, in the Warrior and Family Support Center, a sprawling 12,500–square-foot facility here. The center offers a place for families and wounded warriors to relax, reconnect or just have a cup of coffee. Along with computers, video games, movies and books, the center offers a host of outings, and craft classes to service members and their families.

Trimble is a familiar face at the craft tables. One day she’ll be seen weaving baskets, and the next she is building a mosaic or stained glass creation. Her son and other family members often join in, as well. On this day, Kevin and his brother and sister -- visiting here on military leave -- stopped by for a leatherworking class. They joked and laughed as they worked on their creations. Kevin was making a belt with help from his brother, Ben.

As he worked, Kevin said he was grateful for his mom’s presence. “Things would be harder without her,” he acknowledged.

Having family around is vital for a wounded warrior’s recovery, his mother noted. “It’s very important for them to have support,” she said. “Look at Kevin. It’s not even two months and look where he’s at.”

Trimble said they’ll most likely be here for another two years. Her son’s goal is to graduate from the Center for the Intrepid on his 21st birthday, May 22, 2013.

Meanwhile, Trimble has a long road of caregiving ahead, but said she’s up to the task. The toughest challenge for her isn’t the lack of time alone or the stress, she said, it’s seeing her son in pain. “That’s one reason why you want to take a break,” she said. “Knowing that he’s suffering … that’s very hard.”

With two years of separation from her husband looming, Trimble said the time apart will be tough. Plus, she’s worried about how he’s maintaining their home in her absence. “I’m sure no one is running the broom while I’m away,” she joked.

But despite the ongoing struggles, Trimble said she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’ll be by her son’s side for as long as he needs her to be.

“He’s my son. Caring for him … I couldn’t ask for anything more special.”

Imperial Beach Supports Sailors, Families with Thanksgiving Baskets

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Amanda Huntoon, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Base Coronado Sailors were selected to participate in the ninth annual Thanksgiving basket giveaway aboard the base, Nov. 17.

Each individual command at Naval Base Coronado nominated a few Sailors who needed additional support during the holidays. Three hundred Sailors and their families received baskets with everything needed for a complete Thanksgiving Day meal.

"Each year I am totally amazed at the amount of compassion and care that the vendors show towards the military," said Naval Base Coronado Command Master Chief Kenneth Shivers. "The support is astonishing. I am amazed at the amount of support in San Diego around this time of year.

"The amount of people, both military and non-military, who call my office offering support for the Sailors, from Adopt-a-Family to people opening their homes up to the Sailors who don't have a place to go during the holidays, I find it very remarkable," said Shivers.

The baskets included an 18-20 pound turkey, celery, stuffing, a loaf of bread, cranberry sauce, sugar cookie mix, gravy mix, broth, potatoes, and a roasting pan.

"We started this in 2002, with probably about $50 and three vendors, and through the years we continue to get more and more participation from the vendors, and we receive more funds, which allow us to help more Sailors," said Freddie Espiritu, Imperial Beach Commissary store director. "The Store's main intention is to be the store for military members and families, and we want to show our appreciation and our support for the active duty members of this base by providing the Sailors with a holiday meal."

According to Espiritu, this year the Imperial Beach Commissary brought in a total of $10,000 for their Thanksgiving basket collection. This money came from donations made from their vendors.

"It is really great for them to do this for military families, especially my family, because this year we have had a really hard time," said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Raymundo Aguilar, assigned to the "Firehawks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85. "My father-in-law passed away, and this thanksgiving basket is going to provide for my family. I have three kids and my spouse and with the economy being hard, this is really helpful."

The Sailors also participated in a drawing where they received additional gifts which included hams, televisions, toys, and gift bags.

"It is really wonderful to support what these women and gentleman do for our country," said Peter LaMontia, a vendor with WEBCO General Partnership. "It's amazing. You see their faces, and you really get a sense of your heart going out to them. I am so blessed to be a part of this."

What Happens When an Author Dies Shortly Before Pub Date?

Her Book includes advice to military on how to deal with deployment over the holidays

When the unexpected death of the author occurs shortly before the pub date of her new book, the publisher is usually without contingency. Promotional plans centered on the author become meaningless.

When Bonnie Domrose Stone, died shortly before the November pub date of her newest book Beating the GI Blues: The Military Spouse’s Guide to Living Well withUncle Sam, a radio tour was scuttled, plans for book signings at post exchanges put aside as were speaking tours at military bases.

But Bonnie Domrose Stone had been a military wife and people in the military have a special bond. There is something special about relationships forged in sacrifice. Bonnie’s friends made a promise to her, as she was dying, that they would promote Beating the GI Blues for her.

And that they are doing.  A book event at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Palmdale, California on December 5th will be hosted by two friends and fellow authors Ellie Kay and Joan Fry, and Ellie Kay a media professional and author of Heroes at Home volunteered to handle media appearances to discuss the depth of information in her friend’s new book. It includes advice, poignantly, about how to deal with the holidays when deployment separates the family.

Beating the GI Blues: The Military Spouse’s Guide to Living Well with Uncle Sam, covers the vital and little understood points of importance critical to enlisted personnel in this time of multiple wars, and details what the enlisted spouse needs to know and how to get it in the vast superstructure of the American military.

Beating the GI Blues 9781933909103, is published by Today's Books an imprint of History Publishing Company LLC. Pub date, November 22, 2011,  soft cover at $17.95. in bookstores nationally.