Military News

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Office of the Chief, Army Reserve


Office of the Chief, Army Reserve

Begins Operations in New Building
Fentress Architects’ Fast-Track Project Completed in 51 Weeks
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 20, 2011) –
Having celebrated its official ribbon cutting, the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (OCAR) has relocated to its new headquarters building at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. Designed by Fentress Architects as part of the Hensel Phelps/ Fentress Architects design-build team, the new OCAR facility is one of the final projects awarded under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).

To meet the mandated BRAC funding expiration date, the team designed and constructed the headquarters within a 51-week fast-track project schedule.

OCAR serves as the primary office of Lieutenant General Jack C. Stultz, the Chief, Army Reserve (CAR) and his administrative staff for Army Reserve personnel, operations and funding. The CAR is responsible for all plans, policies and programs affecting Army Reserve Soldiers, including those reporting directly to the Army. The three-story 88,350-square foot OCAR office building offers a contemporary approach to Ft. Belvoir’s historic design guidelines, and respects the design requirements of the National Capital Planning Commission and the height restrictions of the adjacent Friends Meeting House.
Design For People 
Part of an historic view corridor, the main faƧade of OCAR’s new building presents a formal command appearance along Goethals Road. This ceremonial entrance is celebrated with glazed curtainwall and metal panel canopy. An intuitive and efficient secondary staff entry is located along the south elevation. The facility is on track to achieve LEED Gold Certification.

Fentress Architects also designed the U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) joint headquarters building in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The Fort Bragg USARC and OCAR are both commanded by Lieutenant General Jack C. Stultz. USARC is the nation’s premier provider of Citizen-Soldiers for planned and emerging missions at home and abroad.
OCAR Fast FactsLocation: Ft. Belvoir, Virginia,

Client: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Building Size: 88,350 square feet

Cost: $19,563,000
Fentress Architects
is a global design firm that passionately pursues the creation of sustainable and iconic architecture. Together with their clients, Fentress creates inspired design to improve the human environment. Founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980, the firm has designed US$26 billion of architectural projects worldwide, visited by over 300 million people each year. Fentress is a dynamic learning organization, driven to grow its ability to design, innovate and exceed client expectations. The firm has been honored with more than 360 distinctions for design excellence and innovation, and in 2010, Curtis Fentress was recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the most prestigious award for public architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Award. Fentress has studios in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and London, U.K. www.fentressarchitects.com
Please contact Angela Potrykus at 303.282.6192 or potrykus@fentressarchitects.com for more information or images.

Fentress Architects’ Military Headquarters Honored with Design Excellence Award

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 20, 2011)
—For their innovative design of the Russell-Knox Building in Quantico, Virginia, Fentress Architects has been honored with a 2011 Design Build Institute of America (DBIA) Mid-Atlantic Award. Completed in 2010, the government headquarters project successfully co-locates five U.S. Military Department Investigative Agencies. Page 2 of 3

Under an ambitious design-build schedule, the 719,000-square-foot building was designed and built in 30 months, completed on time and on budget. Commissioned by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington as a component of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, the project relocated approximately 2,640 full-time government jobs to Quantico, Va.

The five military agencies consist of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Headquarters Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS), Headquarters Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), Headquarters Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and the Defense Security Service (DSS). In addition to working in a state-of-the-art, 12,000-square-foot Data Center, all agencies have access to the Collaboration Center for training sessions, a dining hall, wellness center and retail convenience store.
High-Tech, Flexible Office Space |
The challenge of the complex building program was to co-locate five separate military investigative agencies in a single facility while maintaining a strong identity for each agency. In addition, the design team had to accommodate each organization’s strict set of classifications, security and technology requirements. Designed to easily adapt to changes within an office environment, the highly efficient space plan features raised-floor systems for data/power cabling, flexible meeting rooms, modular walls and systems furniture. Cutting-edge technologies, security systems and redundant back-up systems support the occupants’ advanced nature of work. The design meets all anti-terrorism/force protection requirements.

Sustainability | The Russell-Knox Building is pending LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The design’s sustainable goals, which target energy consumption and site conservation for the building’s high occupancy and large footprint, exceed the minimum requirements for LEED Silver. Architectural, lighting and HVAC systems were designed to achieve an energy cost savings of more than 25 percent above ASHRAE 90.1-2004.

To lessen the building’s environmental impact, the design team selected zero-irrigation plant species and more than 85 percent native trees. Seven acres of land were reforested and site disturbance was minimized, resulting in 55 percent of the site designated Open Space, more than twice LEED’s required amount. These sustainable practices yielded a LEED Exemplary Performance Credit for site initiatives. Page 3 of 3

The $365,000,000 project was a design-build collaboration between Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and Fentress Architects.
Fentress Architects is a global design firm that passionately pursues the creation of sustainable and iconic architecture. Together with their clients, Fentress creates inspired design to improve the human environment. Founded by Curtis Fentress in 1980, the firm has designed US$26 billion of architectural projects worldwide, visited by over 300 million people each year. Fentress is a dynamic learning organization, driven to grow its ability to design, innovate and exceed client expectations. The firm has been honored with more than 360 distinctions for design excellence and innovation, and in 2010, Curtis Fentress was recognized by the American Institute of Architects with the most prestigious award for public architecture, the Thomas Jefferson Award. Fentress has studios in Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and London, U.K. www.fentressarchitects.com

Please contact Angela Potrykus at 303.282.6192 or potrykus@fentressarchitects.com for more information or images.

HSV 2 Swift Off-loads Food, Supplies for Project Handclasp in El Salvador

By Specialist Jennifer Grier, High Speed Vessel-Southern Partnership Station 2012 Public Affairs

LA UNION, El Salvador (NNS) -- High Speed Vessel (HSV 2) Swift off-loaded Project Handclasp supplies here as part of HSV-Southern Partnership Station 2012 (HSV-SPS 12) Dec. 14.

Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by America's private sector on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

Swift delivered 28 pallets of Project Handclasp materials containing 85,000 non-perishable meals and various medical supplies.

Kids Against Hunger, whose mission is to feed starving children throughout the world, provided the off-loaded meals. The meals were received by Dr. Jose Rodriguez, a Lifeline Christian Mission administrator, who will deliver the meals over the holiday season.

"A lot of families in El Salvador will not have food for Christmas," said Rodriguez. "Because of the help we are receiving from the United States and Kids Against Hunger, it is possible to provide for them during the holidays this year."

The ship delivered 20 pallets of medical supplies to Ixar Campos, El Salvador's interior secretary. The pallets of medical supplies contained medicine, breathing apparatus, and personal hygiene products.

"My favorite part is knowing we can make a difference," said Campos, "that one person or a few people can make a difference."

The delivery of pallets to Central American countries is one of several missions during HSV-SPS 12. Service members from each of the armed services are working with the host nation partners, participating in subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) regarding medical and veterinary practices, small unit leadership, port security and construction.

"Through the partnerships we build in efforts like Project Handclasp, our mission continues to effect lives after our ship leaves," said Cmdr. Garry Wright, HSV-SPS 12 mission commander. "It is through strong partnerships that everyone wins."

Southern Partnership Station is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with partner nation service members and civilians in the region.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

USO Carries on 70-Year Legacy of Troop Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2011 – Returning home today from his first multi-country USO holiday tour, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff continued a popular tradition that’s become part of the United Services Organization’s 70-year legacy.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., this morning after hosting a celebrity-packed tour that featured seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry, singing sensation Jordin Sparks, actress Minka Kelly and comedian and co-host of “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” Thomas "Nephew Tommy" Miles.

While Dempsey met troops in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Germany during the whirlwind trip, the performers provided the entertainment.

The USO tour, Dempsey’s first as the top U.S. military officer, is part of a decades-old tradition. Through its history, the USO has brought Hollywood celebrities and volunteer entertainers to perform for the troops – including the beloved Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Ann Sheridan, James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Fred Astaire, the Andrews Sisters and more.

At its high point in 1944, just three years after its founding, curtains were rising on USO shows 700 times a day.

That popularity seemed almost unimaginable when the USO was founded Feb. 4, 1941, and opened its first center in a small storefront smack in the middle of New York’s Times Square.

The organization was founded at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s request with the solid mission of lifting the spirits of service members and their families, Brian Whiting, president and CEO of the USO of Metropolitan New York, told American Forces Press Service.

It was a unique experiment that brought together six service agencies that had been working independently to support the military. The six stars on the USO logo continue to pay tribute to these organizations: the Salvation Army, National Catholic Community Services, National Jewish Welfare Board, National Travelers Aid Association, and the YMCA and YWCA.

Ultimately growing to about 3,000 centers during World War II, the USO provided a “home away from home” for the military, Whiting said. USO centers hosted dances,

social events, movies and music. They also offered quiet refuge where troops could write a letter home or enjoy a free cup of coffee and a snack.

Now with operations consolidated into about 160 centers, the USO continues to serve its historic mission of caring for military members, their families, and especially forward-deployed troops, Whiting said.

The tiny, initial USO facility has relocated to a larger space in the busy Port Authority Bus Terminal complex, he said, but remains focused like a laser beam on its original mission.

“First and foremost, we are about making sure that we can provide any- and everything that we possibly can to troops and their families,” he said, whether through the USO or another not-for-profit organization.

Like many USOs that now operate at airports to provide an oasis for and assist military travelers, the New York one keeps busy helping military tourists as they visit the Big Apple.

In addition to information about places to go and sites to see, one of its most favorite offerings is free and reduced-price theater tickets. The New York USO provides nearly $3 million in discounted and complementary tickets every year, Whiting reported.

In addition to providing tickets to nearly impossible-to-get-ahold of productions such as Phantom of the Opera, and thousands of tickets to Mary Poppins, the USO has arranged more than 16,000 troops to enjoy private showings of the Christmas spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

The USO staff participates in every deployment and homecoming in the area, and partners with a broad range of organizations to provide other services. Among them is the United Through Reading program that enables troops away from their loved ones to record a storybook and send it to a son or daughter at home. In another effort, the USO distributed thousands of donated bicycles to local military children.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks here, the New York USO’s most regular patrons are members of the New York National Guard supporting the Empire Shield security mission. When they’re not manning their posts or patrolling busy transportation hubs, they seek refuge in the comfort and quiet of the well-appointed USO facility, or at smaller USO break rooms in Grand Central Station and Penn Station.

“This is where they can come in with their weapons and other personal belongings, and they can take off the nearly 100 pounds that they are carrying and be able to enjoy a sandwich,” Whiting said. “They are here morning, noon and night.”

Throughout the USO’s history, volunteers have been the glue that has enabled it to stay true to its original mission, he said.

Among those at the Times Square center is Army Capt. Jacquie Jordan, who puts in time at the reception desk in between Master’s degree studies at nearly Colombia University to prepare her to teach at the U.S. Military Academy.

Jordan called her service at the USO a chance to stay connected with service members while she’s temporarily away from the ranks, and an opportunity to repay some of what the USO has provided her over her career.

“The thing that keeps me in the Army is soldiers, and this is a way to be able to give back to them,” she said. “I love that we [at the USO] can help them in what can be an overwhelming city, and provide them a home away from home.”

Tom Flagg, a six-year volunteer in New York, first learned about the USO when his son, Air Force 1st Lt. Tyler Flagg, raved about the services he received during a long airport layover in Denver. Flagg checked out the New York USO facility that he’d walked past for 30 years, and soon started volunteering his services, followed by his wife.

“This is the best-kept secret in New York,” he said. “You are safe here. The coffee is free.

“And the best part is, we get to do for [military members] who have done so much for us,” he said. “They are the ones out there doing the heavy lifting. This is the least I can do for them.”

Joan Ashner, a volunteer at the Times Square center, recently was singled out from about 18,000 USO volunteers nationwide as the 2011 USO volunteer of the year. Ashner is a fixture at the New York center, volunteering her services about 35 hours a week. When a blizzard crippled the city last year and brought mass transportation to a standstill, she single-handedly opened and operated the center for five days straight to help more than 800 stranded service members and their families, Whiting reported.

Army Sgt. Sergio Rodriguez, a New York National Guard member supporting the Empire Shield mission, credited the USO volunteers and staff for providing the same level of support and respite Roosevelt had in mind 70 years ago.

“Whenever I go anywhere, I look for the USO,” he said. “They make you feel at home and can guide you in the right direction.

“Plus,” he said, pausing as he bit into a cookie, then looking up with a smile, “they have awesome snacks.”

Army Staff Sgt. Neftali Perez, a member of the New York National Guard’s 27th Brigade Combat Team, called the USO “the best thing going for the military.”

“The USO is our family,” he said. “We can rely on them for anything. They support the troops, and have been doing it for many years.”

Face of Defense: Commando Couple Embraces Army Values

By Michelle Kennedy
Fort Drum Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y., Dec. 20, 2011 – Balancing work and personal responsibilities is a challenge for many families, but dual military families face a different set of challenges when dealing with long duty days, deployments and other separations.

One Army couple here -- Warrant Officer Julia Armstrong and Sgt. 1st Class Everett Armstrong -- has endured almost 35 years of combined military service, all while raising a family, balancing work schedules and keeping open lines of communication.

Julia Armstrong, who serves as an adjutant general technician for 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Commandos," works down the hall from her husband, who is the brigade's dining facility noncommissioned officer in charge. While working in the same building has its benefits, it hasn't always been easy.

Everett Armstrong who has served in the Army for 20 years, never thought the military was the right choice for him. "The military was always something I loved watching on TV, but I never thought it would be for me," he said.

That was until he figured out the military would be his ticket out of his rough Houston neighborhood and for the family life he desired.

"Growing up, I was adamant about being married," he continued. "I didn't want to be a football star; I just wanted to be a father.”

“I was already ready for the mission that was coming,” he said of his decision to enlist. But, “I think it was hard on my family when I went straight into the military. They had no clue until that recruiter showed up on the doorstep. I was ready to write a new chapter for myself, and I say it turned out great."

Armstrong’s high school graduation was June 6, 1991, and five days later, he was at basic training.

"The military has been very good for me -- I've got my kids, my wife and everything," he said.

He and his wife met in 1996 while he was stationed at Fort Sill, Okla.

"We met on a basketball court, of all places," he said.

That wouldn’t seem strange except, "I'm 6'2" and he's 5'4," and everybody assumes that I'm the basketball player," Julia Armstrong said, laughing. "I'm so not athletic."

Armstrong was not in the Army when she met her husband while dropping her friend off at her job on Fort Sill. She noticed a group of soldiers playing basketball and goofing around. That's when she saw Everett.

Armstrong asked her friend about her future husband, but her friend warned her that he was "short."

"From a distance, 5'4" doesn't look that bad, but when I met him -- he was short," she said. "We exchanged phone numbers, and we talked on the phone every day that week. We had our first date that Friday and we've been inseparable from that point on. We got married six months later (in September 1996)."

Even though it's been almost 16 years since they met, Armstrong still remembers exactly what his wife was wearing.

"I thought she was gorgeous -- in tennis shoes, sweat pants that were a little high because she was so tall, and a big Starter overcoat," he said. "Our first words were, 'Wow, you're short!' and, 'Wow, you're tall!' And we joked from there."

The Armstrongs think it's funny when people don't realize they're married.

"It's hilarious, even now," Julia Armstrong said. "We have the same last name, but even until a couple of months ago, there were people who didn't put the two together that we are married."

Laughing, understanding and communication have helped this Army couple stay strong during their careers.

Nine months after they were married, Julia Armstrong decided to join the Army in May 1997.

"I had been going to school, working two jobs and raising our oldest (son), and it was just too much," she said.

Fifteen years later, she still loves the Army, but she said she's a little scared at what the future may hold if her husband decides to retire.

"He's at that point where he's at the end of the road, and that scares me because I'm so used to us being a dual-military couple," Armstrong said.

The Armstrong family has been fortunate to not have to endure too many separations from each other or from their four children -- Devyn, 17; Stephon, 15; and twins Trinity and Everett Jr., 4.

With the exception of training and his deployment to Iraq from 2003 to 2004, the couple has been able to stay close. The Armstrongs served together during all their assignments, including Korea.

"All of our duty stations have been always been about us being together as a family unit," Julia Armstrong said. "We've always considered our family and the Army equal; if it was good for the Army and it was good for the family, it was good for us."

During their careers, balancing work and family hasn't always been easy, she explained.

"There were times where you question if you're putting the military before your family or vice versa," Armstrong said, adding that over the years, they have learned to share the responsibility equally. "There are so many other factors. I think what works for us is that we communicate."

Each has faced jobs that required long hours and late nights, while the other tended to the children, cooked dinner and cleaned the house.

"I think for us, it just works," Julia Armstrong said. "We tackle things head on. We discuss it and talk about it. There's no time for someone to say 'I don't want to do that,' because it's all about the kids and making sure things are good for them."

Although the couple has mastered the ways of Army life on and off duty, it is still a struggle when it comes to ensuring their children are taken care of. When both have to go to the field, they have to know that the people who watch their children are responsible.

"It takes coordination," she said. "You can't just leave your kids with anyone; you have to have that support system. We don't have family here, so it takes a while to get to know people and trust them with your kids. That's a lot of responsibility to pass on to someone else."

Everett Armstrong agreed. Right now, it's his wife's turn to work late some days, so he picks up the slack at home.

"We're in sync," he said. "I already know what needs to be done, and I know when she's working late. There's no reason for me to call to ask what she needs me to do. I'm already starting the washing, cooking, kids are bathed, so when she gets home all she needs to do is rest."

He added that throughout his career, he has been fortunate to have great assignments.

"At Fort Sill, when I first met my wife, it was pretty rough because I was always in the field or always working," Armstrong said. "As the years progressed, I've bounced around and gotten some excellent jobs where I can cover my own hours."

Julia Armstrong added that she believes a lot of their success throughout the years has to do with the command climate. They've been fortunate to have supportive commands that understood their situation.

"They have to understand that (with us), they're getting two for the price of one," Armstrong said. "There will be times where a kid gets sick, and I have to leave work because he can't.

Working in an environment where people understand that and they support you and they see that you're still part of the team, (you're) an asset and they're getting the best end of the deal makes all the difference."

Military Lends a Hand to Special Athletes on Guam

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Peter Lewis, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas Public Affairs

BARRIGADA, Guam (NNS) -- Guam-based Sailors and their shipmates from visiting ship USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) volunteered during the 2nd Annual Special Olympics of Guam Golf Exhibition, Dec. 17 at the Admiral Nimitz Golf Course in Barrigada, Guam.

The visiting Sailors said they were honored to be able to help with such a meaningful event.

"We made it a mission to do a project with the community in every port we hit," said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Marilyn Kennard of John Paul Jones. "It shows that even though we're not a representative of Guam, we're here to support."

According to Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Schumacher, Andersen Air Force Base Special Olympics volunteer coordinator, the volunteer opportunity benefited service members as much as the athletes.

"I know a lot of Airmen up on Andersen are looking for ways to get involved, and the athletes from the Special Olympics give us a great way to interact with the community," he said. "I think they get to see a different part of Guam and they get to help out. I think it gives them a lot of satisfaction to get involved with such a good organization."

According to the participants' parents, the athletes were very happy to have the service members present at the event.

"It brings up their morale, it makes them more gung-ho to participate in the sport that they're in," said Ed Boswell, parent of a Special Olympics athlete. "It's really great for the military to help us out here."

As service members continue to volunteer their time at community events such as the golf exhibition, Chief Navy Counselor (SW/AW) John Jeffries, U.S. Naval Base Guam Special Olympics volunteer coordinator, encouraged more Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to get involved.

"I think volunteering is important because it sets a good example for ourselves and others," he said.

Deployed Service Members Receive a Warm Welcome Home

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) David Danals, Defense Media Activity - Navy

BALTIMORE (NNS) -- Operation Welcome Home Maryland (OWHM) volunteers greeted more than 300 service members arriving at Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall airport returning from overseas deployments, Dec. 19.

OWHM is an all-volunteer force that has greeted more than 190,000 military personnel returning from deployments since 2007.

"These are our heroes, and they deserve a really great welcome home," said Ken Funk, OWH team leader and treasurer. "They are the ones that protect us every single day by fighting for our freedom and protecting our rights."

OWH consists of volunteers from church groups, scouts, schools and veteran groups all the way to the Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center (ECRC) whose mission is to see that these returning service members get all the help they need.

"We meet the service members here at the airport and make sure they are greeted and get to where they need to go," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Reginald Lewis, ECRC. "Nobody should be left behind ungreeted and they should feel welcomed for their hard work and dedication overseas."

Volunteers at the event participated by making gift bags in an assembly line fashion prior to the flight arriving, as well as hanging up posters and helping out with heavy luggage.

"Whether they are from Kansas or California, they are back on American soil, and they are so happy to be back here" said Funk. "It is like a big weight off their shoulders, and to see these people greeting them puts a big smile on their faces."

BWI receives the highest number of returning veterans per year with an average of 20 flights per month which equals to greeting 4,000 to 5,000 each month.

In 2010, more than 45,000 service members aboard 215 flights were greeted by OWHM volunteers. For more information about Operation welcome Home, visit Operationwelcomehome.org.

Veterans Service Organizations: Find One that Fits Your Needs

By Corina Notyce, DCoE Strategic Communications

If you’re a veteran, you might have already connected with a veterans service organization (VSO) and are familiar with the services and benefits offered by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, for service members who haven’t yet transitioned or will be transitioning to veteran status soon, Real Warriors Campaign recently published an article, “What VSOs Can Do For You” that’s quite helpful.

When it comes to a VSO specifically, it’s important to note that some VSOs are chartered, which means these organizations are federally authorized to represent veterans before VA, and some are non-chartered. For example, chartered VSOs may prepare and present veterans benefit claims to VA. Non-chartered VSOs may provide veterans and their dependents with information on how to obtain veterans services and benefits, but they cannot serve as a representative before VA. Your specific need may determine the VSO that’s best for you to explore and reach out to.

Here’s a brief look at a few chartered VSOs partnered with the Real Warriors Campaign:

 ■The American Legion: the largest VSO in the United States providing claim and appeal support to veterans. To learn more, visit www.legion.org or call 800-433-3318

■American Red Cross: provides support to military personnel and families, including emergency communications, access to financial assistance, counseling and referral to community resources. To learn more, visit www.redcross.org or call 800-RED CROSS (800-733-2767)

■Blue Star Mothers of America: comprised of mothers who currently have or have had children honorably serving in the military and focuses on supporting veterans while promoting patriotism. Their worldwide campaign, “Sew Much Comfort,” delivers more than 1,200 clothing items and accessories to returning service members each month. To find a chapter in your area, visit www.bluestarmothers.org

■Congressional Medal of Honor Society: comprised of recipients of the prestigious Medal of Honor. The society provides aid to all Medal of Honor recipients, their widows or their children. To learn more, visit www.cmohs.org or call 843-884-8862

■Disabled American Veterans: provides support to disabled veterans and their families as well as free claims representation and transition service for active-duty and reserve component members. To learn more, visit www.dav.org or call 877-I AM A Vet (877-426-2838)

■Gold Star Wives of America: comprised of widows and widowers whose spouses lost their lives while on active duty or as the result of a service-connected cause. They assist with understanding and obtaining veterans benefits. To learn more, visit www.goldstarwives.org or call 888-751-6350

■United Service Organizations (USO): a global organization that provides morale, welfare and recreation services to support service members and their families. Today, there are 135 USO centers worldwide, which are visited approximately 6.9 million times annually. To learn more, visit www.uso.org or call 888-484-3876

For additional information and resources from other Real Warriors Campaign partners, click here. In addition to getting assistance from VSOs as you transition to veteran status, you can reach the VA at 800-827-1000 or in-person at a VA regional office nearest you. The Real Warriors Campaign three-part series, “Transitioning to the VA” can also help as you begin exploring the services and applying for benefits offered by the VA including:

■Disability
■Education and training
■Vocational rehabilitation
■Home loan guaranty
■Dependent and survivor benefits
■Medical treatment
■Life insurance and burial benefits

Take advantage of these resources, or share them with another veteran. Sometimes just being informed about your options can make all the difference.

USS New Orleans Sailors, Marines Volunteer at Cambodian Children's Shelter

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro, USS New Orleans Public Affairs

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and embarked Marines of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in a community service project at the House of Family children's shelter Dec. 19.

The shelter is funded by the School of Public Health and Social Work of St. Elizabeth and serves as a refuge for HIV/AIDS positive orphans or vulnerable children (OVC).

Zuzka Vu, a social worker with the House of Family, said the shelter's staff helps ensure OVC affected by HIV/AIDS have access to clothing, water, sanitation and all the primary needs of HIV/AIDS patients.

Sailors and Marines helped make a stone walkway for the shelter. Afterwards they played games, danced and even provided basic medical treatment for the kids.

"Being here makes me feel like I'm giving back something very important," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Joseph Samonte. "It's a big difference between what we have (in America) and what they have and it always feels good to help out."

Lt. Paul Armstrong, USS New Orleans' command chaplain, said it's important for Sailors and Marines to interact with the local population while on liberty.

"This organization is really making a difference in the community," he said. "It's part of our mission and is one of the things we really need to do."

Samonte echoed Armstrong's sentiment saying he was grateful to be involved with the organization.

"Working with them helps paint a better picture of the local community," said Samonte. "It helps us get away from the beaches and tourist areas."

Vu said the shelter does not get many volunteers and she appreciated the visit from the Sailors and Marines and wished they would come by and play with the children more often.

"I wish they could come by 40 hours a week and play with the children," she said. "They're really helping us and giving us a break."

New Orleans deployed Nov. 14 in support of the nation's Maritime Strategy and is currently conducting theater security cooperation missions in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

New Orleans, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with the embarked 11th MEU, make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.

'War Eagles' Meet with Japanese Partners

By Lt. j.g. Michael Glynn, VP-16 Public Affairs

NAHA, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors from the 'War Eagles' of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 met with fellow maritime patrol professionals from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) to strengthen their working relationship Dec. 16.

VP-16 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Brad Rosen, met with the commanding officer of the JMSDF VP-5, Capt. Akira Ichida, exchanged gifts and sat down to familiarize themselves prior to the next few months of combined operations.

"The chance to sit down with our counterparts from VP-5 is valuable for both parties," commented Rosen. "The JMSDF are extremely professional and it's a pleasure to work with them. We're proud to fly and work side-by-side."

"We are very happy to continue our cooperation with VP-16. Strong coordination is important for future operations," Ichida said to the group of U.S. naval officers.

Sailors from VP-5 operate the Japanese version of the P-3C Orion. The squadron is based at Naha airport in Okinawa and is very active in patrolling the waters around the southern Japanese islands. In accordance with Japan's pacifist constitution, JMSDF forces observe the exclusive economic zone and conduct routine reconnaissance missions.

"It's a pleasure to meet and work with our JMSDF partners," said 'War Eagle' liaison officer, Lt. Phil Jenkins.

The 'War Eagles' of VP-16 and 'Pegasus' team of VP-5 are currently conducting maritime patrol operations in the western Pacific. VP-16 conducts security, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions in support of Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet and is currently deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa from its homeport Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

San Diego Sailors, Project Handclasp Work to Get Donations to Haiti

By Candice Villarreal, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego teamed up with Project Handclasp in Coronado, Calif., to stage pallets of donated food and supplies for transport to Haiti Dec. 15.

The supply rating Sailors - all logistics specialists and ship's servicemen - loaded and secured 83 pallets containing more than 65,000 pounds of donated cargo onto 21 oversized U.S. Air Force pallets for transport in a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy plane. The donations began the first leg of their journey to the impoverished island nation when they departed Naval Air Station North Island Dec. 17.

"Part of being a good Sailor is helping those in need whenever and wherever you have the opportunity to do so," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class (AW) John Laughlin.

Sailors loaded 36 pallets of toys and wagons, 20 pallets of school kits and hygiene supplies, 17 pallets - or 121,176 total servings - of High Nutrition Meals, nine pallets of school books and 15 water filters that will provide homes or facilities with safe drinking water for about 10 years apiece.

"Doing our part to make sure these goods get to the Haitian people is a great but humbling feeling," Laughlin said. "We're here as part of a bigger picture, just donating a little time and effort to something bigger than ourselves, and hopefully that will effect some type of positive change for the people of Haiti."

Project Handclasp accepts humanitarian, educational and goodwill donations contributed by the American private sector and transports them to foreign nations on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy vessels. The shipment of goods was transported to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) will receive the pallets for delivery to schools, orphanages and a feeding center in Haiti.

The U.S. Navy has continued to deliver humanitarian assistance and aid to Haiti since the small island nation was rocked by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and more than one million homeless or displaced. By utilizing volunteer or organic labor and space-available transportation, Project Handclasp delivers the goods at no cost to the military.

"Project Handclasp is an outstanding program within the Department of the Navy that really helps change lives abroad," said Capt. Peter Stamatopoulos, NAVSUP FLC San Diego commanding officer. "Any time NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego can lend that program a helping hand in achieving their mission to provide for the less fortunate, we're going to be there. That's what we do as part of 'A global force for good.'"

NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego, one of seven fleet logistics centers under NAVSUP Global Logistics Support, provides global logistics, business and support services to fleet, shore and industrial commands of the Navy, Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, and other joint and allied forces. Services include contracting, regional transportation, fuel, material management, household goods movement support, postal and consolidated mail, warehousing, global logistics and husbanding, hazardous material management, and integrated logistics support.

NAVSUP GLS comprises more than 5,700 military and civilian logistics professionals, contractors and foreign nationals operating as a single cohesive team providing global logistics services from 110 locations worldwide.

A component of the Naval Supply Systems Command headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., NAVSUP GLS is part of a worldwide logistics network of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel providing combat capability through logistics.

New Commanding Officer Takes Helm of ONI's Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center

From Office of Naval Intelligence Public Affairs

SUITLAND, Md (NNS) -- The Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center changed hands Dec. 15 during a change of command ceremony at the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

Capt. Copley relieved Capt. Doug Peabody as Commanding Officer, and is the fourth commanding officer to lead the Kennedy Center, an Echelon III Command established in 2009.

The center is responsible for delivering maritime intelligence and operational support to the Navy, Department of Defense, national decision makers, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) and Navy Expeditionary Warfare Command (NECC).

A 1988 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Copley has served in 10 intelligence assignments at sea and ashore, most recently at the Center of Naval Intelligence, where he developed the course curriculum for the Advanced Maritime Operational Intelligence Course.

"I am excited to join this team of professionals because you are engaged forward, defending our nation," Copley told members of the Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center. "Our operational forces depend on the products and services you provide. Our mission is not easy, nor one where many will say 'thanks,' but rest assured knowing that when our naval forces are successful, we are successful."

Upon taking leave of the Kennedy Center, Peabody was awarded the Legion of Merit. He thanked the men and women of the command for their diligence and devotion.

"Most people will never know everything these analysts have done or been involved with," said Peabody. "No matter what the churn is around us, the mission is our focus."

Capt. Robert Rupp, commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence, emphasized the vital role the Kennedy Center plays in meeting the Navy's global challenges.

"It is your task to help the United States Navy control and protect the seas," said Rupp. "Whether Kennedy Center personnel are operating deep within a contested area or providing exquisite intelligence from here at ONI, Sailors will be operating forward, and they will depend on the Kennedy Center's deep knowledge of the adversary and deep understanding of the operating environment."

At the ceremony's conclusion, Copley formally assumed command of the Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center, opening a new chapter in the long history of ONI.

Established in 1882, the Office of Naval Intelligence is the nation's longest-serving intelligence agency.