Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SECDEF Statement on Under Secretary Flournoy

“Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy has today announced her intention to step down and return to private life.  In her discussions with me, Michèle made clear that her decision to leave is motivated by personal and family considerations.  I am very pleased that she has agreed to stay on until early next year to enable a smooth transition.

“Michèle has been an invaluable advisor to me during my six months as secretary of defense, and has been an outstanding departmental leader for nearly three years at a time of great consequence for our nation’s defense.  From guiding our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, to helping set the department’s priorities and global posture through the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review as well as the strategy review that has been underway this year, Michèle has made a strong and lasting positive imprint on this department and on our nation’s security. 

“Michèle is a treasured colleague, and the entire Department of Defense will be sad to see her go, but she has built an incredible team that is a testament to her leadership.  I will personally miss her valued counsel, but I understand the stresses and strains that holding senior administration positions can have on families.  I look forward to having the opportunity to paying full tribute to Michèle and wish her and her family all the best in the next stage of their lives.  I’m confident that she will have many years of service in her future.”

7th Fleet Visits Naval Air Facility Misawa

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Darrius Wharton, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet paid a visit to the Sailors of Naval Air Facility Misawa, its tenant commands, and deployed Patrol Squadron (VP) 1, Dec. 12.

This is Vice Adm. Scott Swift's first visit to Misawa, and coincides with the return of rotationally-deployed VP squadrons to this northern-Japan located U.S. naval installation.

"The return of P-3 deployments to Misawa is a return to pre-2007 levels, and I want to ensure our Sailors receive the resources they need to accomplish the mission," Swift said. "These are some fantastic facilities here, and I foresee Misawa, its Sailors and assets continuing to play a vital role in protecting the stability of the region."

Swift also talked about his vision for the fleet.

"The 7th Fleet business model is people come first," Swift said. "I say people first because it's not just about the Sailors, it's also about their families and our civilian employees."

"Leadership needs to be engaged, and it's important that commanders are making sure their Sailors have the keys to success for what they want to do in the Navy or as they transition to a new career in the civilian sector.

Swift said he is happy with the performance of 7th Fleet and its Sailors.

"It's an honor for me to call myself a 7th Fleet Sailor," said Swift. "I couldn't be happier with the extraordinary work I see these Sailors doing."

Wisconsin Challenge Academy to honor 103 graduates, scholarship recipients

One hundred and three cadets from 38 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy in a noon ceremony Dec. 17 at Mauston High School.

The Challenge Academy reshapes the lives of at-risk 16-to-18-year-olds. It uses a structured, military-style environment and state-certified teachers and counselors to build cadets' academic abilities, character, self-confidence, and personal discipline.

After graduating from the 22-week residential phase of academy training, cadets are paired with hometown mentors who offer guidance and encouragement in pursuing their new direction in life.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is scheduled to address graduates along with their parents, relatives, mentors, and friends on hand to celebrate their success.

Five prior Challenge Academy graduates will receive scholarships to the colleges of their choice. Aaron Brandau of Brookfield, Wis., was selected to receive a $5,000 National Guard Youth Foundation Regional Scholarship. Brandau is enrolled at UW-Waukesha pursuing a degree in marketing. The Foundation will also award $1,000 scholarships to Brenden Sann of Wausau, Wis., and Samuel Puchalla of Kiel, Wis. Sann is currently attending UW- Marathon County majoring in psychology, while Puchalla is attending Indian Hills Community College pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Isaac O'Keefe of Eau Claire, Wis., will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship from ManTech International Corporation. O'Keefe is attending Globe University majoring in massage therapy. Oshkosh Defense will award a $1,000 scholarship to Michale Schiffer of West Salem, Wis. Schiffer is currently attending Western Wisconsin Technical College pursuing a degree in Web and software development.

Twenty-eight states and Puerto Rico offer similar programs nationwide. More than 100,000 teens have successfully completed the National Guard youth programs since 1993. In Wisconsin more than 86 percent of cadets who finish the program receive their high school equivalency diploma (HSED), and more than 80 percent stay out of trouble with the law.

The Wisconsin Challenge Academy will begin its next class Jan. 12, 2012. Applications are available for future classes by contacting the Challenge Academy at (866) 968-8422 or visiting their website at Challengeacademy.org.

Keeping Sailors 'Happy' During the Holidays

By Lt. Tom Gordy, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The director for Personnel Readiness and Community Support offered ways to reduce stress during the holiday season, Dec. 12.

The holidays can be a joyous time for Sailors and their families, but they can also be stressful.

By doing some simple things, most people can manage their stress and have an enjoyable and safe holiday, said Rear Adm. Martha Herb, director, Personnel Readiness and Community Support.

"We can feel the full range of emotions during this holiday time. They can range from happiness and joy to extreme stress. And we can deal with the stress if we plan appropriately," said Herb, a member of the explosive ordnance disposal community and a licensed clinical professional counselor.

There are practical steps Sailors can take to manage the stress of the holidays, to include: maintaining an exercise routine; ensuring enough sleep; taking time to relax; planning and keeping to a budget for gift-giving; and celebrating in moderation.

But if the stress and struggles seem overwhelming, Sailors are encouraged to ask for help.

"It's ok to reach out and ask for help. In fact, it takes courage to reach out and tell somebody, 'I'm struggling. I need some help.' If you take the time to ask for help you can solve your issues and move on," said Herb.

Sailors are also encouraged to help shipmates navigate stress by taking the time to be a friend and listen.

"Everybody needs a friend," said Herb. "Everybody needs to be connected with another person. By connecting with somebody, you help them feel better and help them deal with stressors in life."

Herb reminded Sailors that they can make a positive difference in the life of a shipmate who is struggling by taking a little extra time to A.C.T - Ask if they need help; Care enough to listen, offer hope and not judge; and Treat, take action, get proper professional assistance, and follow up.

Additionally, command leaders can maintain a healthy unit by being familiar with the resources the Navy offers and recommending them to their Sailors who are dealing with stress or thoughts of suicide. These resources include Military OneSource at www.MilitaryOneSource.com and 1-800-342-9647, the Veterans Crisis Line at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net and 1-800-273-8255, Navy Fleet and Family Support Program, Navy chaplains and medical providers.

By looking out for each other and planning ahead, Sailors can make sure that their holidays are happy for themselves and their shipmates.

NAVAIR, Industry Team Up for Command's First Wounded Warrior Career Day

From Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- More than 100 wounded warriors and disabled veterans attended NAVAIR's first Wounded Warrior Career Day at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park, Md., Dec. 6.

"Employing wounded warriors and veterans is one of our highest priorities at NAVAIR. We know full well the value of this effort," said NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm. David Architzel.

The event included a career fair with 38 exhibitors and 30 NAVAIR hiring managers. Guest speaker Edward Crenshaw, author of "The PERCEVD Principles: Preparing Employers to Reintegrate Combat Exposed Veterans with Disabilities," listed strategies on how to support veterans in the civilian workplace, including being flexible and accommodating and acknowledging their achievements.

Mentoring programs and focus groups are part of the infrastructure needed to retain veterans, he said. "Mentoring programs go a long way toward making our veterans feel they are not alone," he said.

Most important, managers need to perform a self-assessment to determine what they are doing right in the recruitment and retaining process and how they can improve.

"I challenge you to evolve, change, restructure, rethink," Crenshaw said.

The event kicked off with a meet-and-greet and informal dinner for the 28 disabled veterans who traveled from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, to Patuxent River Dec. 5. NAVAIR has formed a strong partnership with the medical center and will serve as the primary hiring funnel for wounded warriors transitioning out of that facility, helping both government and private industry hire and support these veterans. A formal memorandum of agreement will be signed in January 2012.

Natashia Turner, an Army human resources specialist, was injured while stationed in England and is undergoing treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center. She said she is inspired by the many amputees she meets, comparing them to superheroes.

"It teaches you that there is life after your injury and to stay positive and motivated, because attitude is everything," she said.

David Regan, a NAVAIR logistics management specialist, can speak to having a positive attitude. His story is nothing short of a medical miracle.

On his second Iraq tour as an Army sergeant combat engineer, Regan's vehicle was hit by an explosively formed projectile. The projectile burned through the side of the vehicle, hit Regan's head and burned through and exited his skull before blazing through the other side of the vehicle. He was in a coma for nearly three months and was not expected to survive.

Three weeks after he awoke from his coma, he ran a mile on the hospital's treadmill and eventually competed in the 2011 Wounded Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. That's where he first learned about NAVAIR and applied to its four-year Naval Acquisition Development Program.

Within this program, Regan said he has enjoyed rotating positions and learning about all facets of the business.

He encouraged veterans to initiate conversations and ask employers what they need and what they are looking for.

"NAVAIR can offer this great program, but the transitioning veterans have to really want it and go after it," he said. "This is not a job fair; this is not NAVAIR offering jobs. This is NAVAIR offering careers."

One theme at the event was clear: Veterans offer a wealth of attributes that are transferrable to the civilian work world, including resilience, leadership, love of country, discipline, drive and teamwork.

"I think the best thing that the Army has ever taught me is being able to know how to treat your fellow comrade, co-worker," said job seeker Qwenolyn Kendle. "That's something that has changed my life."

Kendle, who was injured in Afghanistan, advised her fellow wounded warriors to stay proactive. "Just because you're missing a limb, it doesn't mean that you can't do it," she said. "You just have another way of rethinking things. Reinvent yourself."

The mission of NAVAIR's Wounded Warrior Program is to recruit, hire, train and retain wounded warriors from across the United States. In fiscal year 2011, NAVAIR hired 586 veterans, 155 of whom were disabled.

"With a mission to honor and empower wounded warriors and all veterans, NAVAIR is joining the many national programs which encourage warriors to push through their external and internal wounds, to adjust to their new normal and to achieve new triumphs," said NAVAIR Vice Commander Rear Adm. Steve Eastburg.

NAVAIR also works with NAVSEA, SPAWAR and the Director, Naval Acquisition Career Management, as well as private sector organizations, to maximize wounded warrior employment, training and transitioning opportunities nationwide.

"We will do everything we can to hire disabled veterans at NAVAIR, and if we can't, we will help them find work with other employers," Architzel said. "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter who does the hiring. What matters is that these men and women be matched with meaningful employment."

DOD to Honor Blood Donors for Saving Lives

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

WASHINGTON  – The Defense Department plans to recognize blood donors early next year for their critical contributions to saving lives by giving blood to the Armed Services Blood Program, the program’s director said today.

“National Blood Donor Month, which is usually January of every year, is an attempt to recognize those blood donors and everyone involved in blood donation for their sacrifices and rolling up their sleeves in 2011,” Army Col. Frank Rentas, director of the Armed Services Blood Program, said during a Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service interview here.

“Next month … we will be recognizing those donors that have supported our mission,” he said. “Our mission is to provide blood and blood supplies whenever and wherever they’re needed.”

The joint program plays a key role in providing quality blood products for service members and their families in both peacetime and war, according to its website.

Rentas noted the demand for blood -- which only lasts 42 days in storage before perishing -- and shared different needs for blood donation which are based on the needs of the war fighter.

“Most people, when you say ‘blood,’ they refer to red blood cells,” he said. “With red blood cells, O-negative is the most sought-after blood type because you can transfuse it to anyone out there.

“If you are looking at plasma, it’s completely opposite,” Rentas continued. “AB plasma is what we need because AB plasma is universal. So depending on our needs, we may target specific donors or specific blood types depending on what we need for a specific week.”

The program director detailed the importance of receiving donations since one donor can potentially save three lives.

“If they’re donating whole blood … we split that unit into plasma and red cells,” he explained. “One donation can actually save three different lives because we can make platelets out of some of those units as well.

“So the platelets can actually go to one recipient, the plasma can go to another, and the red cells can go to another,” Rentas added. “So that would be three different recipients that you can save with one donation.”

People can donate whole blood every 56 days, Rentas said, but some aren’t eligible to donate. “Overseas, depending on where you are, you may or may not be able to donate,” he explained.

An example, Rentas said, is people who were based in Europe in areas afflicted with what is known as Mad Cow Disease. “Even though I’m an O-negative blood donor, and donated many, many times in the [1980’s], I was assigned to Germany from 1987 to 1990,” Rentas continued, “and I have not been able to donate since because of Mad Cow Disease. Even though I feel perfectly fine, I’m not allowed to donate.”

The colonel cited the Federal Drug Administration as the authority which dictates policies and guidelines to both civilian and DOD blood donor facilities.

“We’re licensed to collect because we do have an FDA license,” he said. “So we need to follow their policies … one of their policies is if you have been in specific places where Mad Cow Disease has been a concern, you’re not allowed to donate.”

People can donate blood at more than 20 sites worldwide. Those who cannot donate blood, can still contribute by passing on the word, Rentas said.

“The best place for [service members] to get information is our website, www.militaryblood.dod.mil,” he said. “[It has] anything that they need to know about locations, they can make appointments [and] reasons about why they may not be able to donate.”

Rentas expressed his gratitude to donors for “rolling up their sleeves” to give blood and he encouraged them to continue to support the program.

“If you come to a DOD blood donor facility in January, we’re going to be holding recognition ceremonies to express our gratitude for what you have done in 2011,” he said.

Army’s Army Hosts “Special Friends Ops” for Children of Fallen Soldiers

Kid-friendly military boot camp to take place at Fort Bragg’s Camp Mackall

Fayetteville, NC – December 6, 2011 – Children of fallen soldiers in Fayetteville/Cumberland County, NC, will get to enjoy an all-day military boot camp on Saturday, December 17, 2011. “Special Friends Ops” is being presented by the Army’s Army in conjunction with Fort Bragg’s Survivor Outreach Services and the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) program. Organizers are expecting at least 50 children and their families to take part in this unique, interactive event, where they will learn wilderness survival skills and have the opportunity to bond with each other and with other survivor families.

When a soldier is killed in the line of duty, the families left behind often have a difficult time coping and feel isolated from what had become their military family. Fort Bragg’s Survivor Outreach Services is dedicated to advocating on behalf of these families and reassuring them that they are a part of the Army Family for as long as they like.

The children of the fallen are a very, very special group of kids that we believe we can help,” said Janine West, Executive Director of the Army’s Army. “We hope our Special Friends Ops event for them is just the first of many to come.”

Special Friends Ops will be led by SERE instructor Gordon Smith, who spent 26 years in the Special Forces.

The SERE program provides Special Operations soldiers, including Special Forces candidates, Civil Affairs, Military Information Support and Special Operations aviators and crew, with training in survival, evasion escape and the Code of Conduct. Special Forces students train at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School for up to two years to become qualified to join Special Forces. SERE is one of the steps in this rigorous training.

Children attending Special Friends Ops will enjoy a day of interactive instruction and outdoor adventures. They will learn things like how to build a shelter out of surroundings in the woods, how to start a fire without matches, how to purify water, how to identify poisonous wildlife and primitive cooking techniques. Event sponsor and Army’s Army partner Outback Steakhouse will serve lunch and provide giveaways.

“Fort Bragg is committed to supporting our surviving families,” said Amy Melendez, Support Coordinator for Survivor Outreach Services. “We hope this event will allow children of the fallen and their families to relax and grow closer with one another, as well as with other survivors.”

Special Friends Ops will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on December 17 at Camp Mackall. There is no charge to participate. Families of the fallen interested in participating can RSVP to Amy Melendez at (910) 396-0384 or amy.melendez@us.army.mil. Questions about the event can be directed to Janine West at (910) 709-9671 or jlwest@armysarmy.com. For more information on the Army’s Army, visit www.armysarmy.com or www.brieffromthefront.com.

About The Army’s Army:
Fayetteville/Cumberland County is America’s first sanctuary community for the Military and their Families. The Army’s Army is the world’s only volunteer organization of citizens and businesses who have pledged their moral, physical and spiritual support to those in the military. We do everything we can to make soldiers, veterans and their families feel welcome, appreciated and safe. The Army’s Army is dedicated to “watching over those who watch over us©.” For additional information, visit www.armysarmy.com.

Military Discounts Blog Serves as Valuable Resource for Soldiers in Fayetteville, NC This Holiday Season

Army’s Army Launches One-Stop Shop for Military and Their Families Fayetteville, NC – December 8, 2011 – Military families face a series of unique challenges when moving to a new area. Times are especially tough for them this holiday season given the current state of the economy. That's why Fayetteville/Cumberland County, North Carolina, has created an online relocation resource specifically with them in mind: the Military Discounts blog features an up-to-date list of discounts at Fayetteville-area businesses, national companies and online retailers for soldiers, veterans and their families. Visit the blog at www.FayettevilleMilitaryDiscounts.com.
The Military Discounts blog highlights discounts in a variety of categories, including amusements, art, dining, golf, lodging, services, shopping and sports. Participating businesses range from small, local mom-and-pop businesses to select locations of major national retailers. It is currently made up of more than 300 participating businesses. The Military Discounts blog is a joint effort between the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Army’s Army, the world's only volunteer organization of businesses and individuals who have pledged their moral, physical and spiritual support to those in the military by “watching over those who watch over us.”

“The Military Discounts blog is one of the many ways we help make soldiers, veterans and their families feel welcome, safe and appreciated in Fayetteville/Cumberland County,” said Janine West, Executive Director of the Army’s Army. “Especially now that times are so tough, we wanted to make sure those who serve and have served our country in the military can easily find all of the discounts that are available to them.” The blog highlights a different discount each month. This month’s feature is a 10 percent discount on all parts, services and accessories to all active duty military at Hendrick Chrysler Jeep. Hendrick Chrysler Jeep has been a proud Army’s Army partner for almost two years. It is located at 543 North McPherson Church Road in Fayetteville. Other featured discounts this month include PWC, Systel Business Equipment and International Minute Press.

The Army's Army, which was established in 2008, created FayettevilleWantsYou.com to make the transition to the area smoother for military families. The interactive website connects relocating families directly to local residents and Army's Army members, while also providing area information like healthcare, education, employment and housing. It serves as a welcome wagon and information resource for relocating families. The Military Discounts blog is housed within this site. For more information on the Army’s Army, visit ArmysArmy.com or BriefFromTheFront.com.

About The Army’s Army:
Fayetteville/Cumberland County is America’s first sanctuary community for the military and their families. The Army’s Army is the world’s only volunteer organization of citizens and businesses who have pledged their moral, physical and spiritual support to those in the military. We do everything we can to make soldiers, veterans and their families feel welcome, appreciated and safe. The Army’s Army is dedicated to “watching over those who watch over us©.” For additional information, visit www.ArmysArmy.com.