Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Northern Region Treatment System Begins Construction at Camp Pendleton

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest and members of the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton community held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Northern Region Tertiary Treatment Plant Dec. 15 at Camp Pendleton.

"The groundbreaking signifies a culmination of almost eight years of Marine Corps planning to upgrade their existing waste water treatment systems," said Joe Riojas, NAVFAC Southwest supervisory general engineer at ROICC Camp Pendleton. "Commencement of construction for the new treatment facility will bring to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton added capacity, flexibility -- and reflects positively on their commitment to the environment."

NAVFAC Southwest awarded CDM/FILANC (a joint venture) the $121.3 million design-build contract Sept. 28, 2010, to construct the treatment plant. The plant will be capable of treating up to five million gallons of waste water per day. Included in the contract is the conversion of an existing sewer treatment plant, up to six miles of new waste water conveyance and a solar farm with a design capacity to generate up to 5.3 megawatts of power. Additionally, though waste water plants are normally not LEED certifiable, the control building for the facility will be designed to meet LEED Silver standards.

The project is expected to be completed in December 2013.

Dietary supplements removed from Exchanges due to health concerns

12/28/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Department of Defense has implemented a temporary moratorium on the sales of products containing DMAA within military facilities.  

The moratorium will remain in effect pending further review of relevant scientific evidence and reported events, officials said.

Recent reports show that two Soldier deaths and additional adverse health effects in other service members may be related to the use of dietary supplements containing DMAA, which is also known as dimethylamylamine.

"We support the decision of the Military Exchanges and Commissaries to remove products containing DMAA from their shelves until we can make a further determination about the safety of this ingredient," said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, the deputy director of Force Health Protection and Readiness Programs with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness.

DMAA is sold as a single supplement and in combination with multiple other ingredients. In particular, it is often combined with caffeine, a legal, natural stimulant. Stimulants may accelerate metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure, which may increase the body's production of heat, especially in hot and humid conditions.

"We are concerned about reports of heat illness, kidney (and) liver damage, and sudden death in service members who reportedly used products containing DMAA," Kilpatrick said.  

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson asked the surgeons general of the military services to conduct a review of available scientific evidence and adverse event reports to better understand any potential relationship between DMAA and these events. Recommendations from this review will guide further decisions, officials said.

"We take the health of our service members and families very seriously, and believe this action is necessary as a precautionary measure until we can learn more," said Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army surgeon general.

Top 10 Military Family Moments of 2011

By Elaine Sanchez
 Dec. 28, 2011
 Family Matters Blog

It’s that time of year when top 10 lists seem to proliferate across nearly every web and news page in the nation, proclaiming everything from the best movies and TV shows to the most memorable photos and celebrities of the year.

Since I find it tough to encapsulate a year’s worth of information into a tidy list, I typically steer away from the concept. However, this was such a momentous year for military families that I decided it was time to hop on the list-making bandwagon.

So, here’s my top 10 most memorable military family moments of 2011. It’s certainly not all-inclusive, but I’m hoping it at least hits the highlights.

10. JR Martinez – Warrior Inspiration. This Army veteran and wounded warrior danced his way to the top spot on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” — and inspired a nation with his strength and resilience along the way. In 2003, Martinez was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, suffering severe burns to more than 40 percent of his body. He went on to share his story with audiences nationwide. In 2008, he landed a role as an Iraq war veteran on the ABC soap opera, “All My Children,” which led to his “Dancing with the Stars” appearances this year.

“I have been able to be a role model and a voice for a lot of [troops] who don’t feel that they have a voice for themselves,” Martinez said during a Pentagon Channel interview. “I’ve been able to be a source of inspiration to the families as well, to say good things do happen and you’ve just got to be patient and have a great attitude.”

Martinez recently scored another big win: he and his girlfriend, Diana Gonzalez-Jones, are expecting their first child, a girl, in the spring.

9. The Office of Servicemember Affairs opened for business. As the military arm of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, this office is intended to strengthen military families financially and to serve as an advocate on their behalf. The office has a threefold mission: to ensure families are given a quality financial education, to monitor consumer complaints and the response to those complaints, and to work with other federal and state agencies to help resolve issues.

In an interview this summer, Holly Petraeus, the office’s assistant director, told me she’s thrilled to be in a position to help service members and their families.

“My ultimate dream is that no service member signs a contract that they end up regretting for years or signing one that isn’t fair,” she said. “We can write rules and enforce at CFPB, and I’d love to see the real bad actors that go after service members — break the law to harm them financially — I’d like to see them enforced against.”

8. Sesame unveiled “Military Families Near and Far.” These products, which include a bilingual website and mobile application, encourage elementary school-aged children to express their emotions and to communicate as they undergo challenging military transitions. The resources are a team effort by Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and are provided in cooperation with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Sesame’s previous efforts to help military children have been aimed at preschoolers. These new products will enable them to reach older children in an entertaining way, H. Melvin Ming, Sesame Workshop president and CEO, told me during the launch event in November. “One size does not fit all,” he noted. “Children learn best when the message is age-appropriate.”

7. Technology boosts support. This year, we’ve seen the Defense Department and other organizations launch a host of technology-based tools aimed at helping troops, veterans and their families. For example, DcOE’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed mobile apps that help users cope with psychological concerns, and aid providers in diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and TBI. One example is Life Armor, a mobile app that serves as a resource for families experiencing common post-deployment issues. Find out more about these helpful apps here.

Additionally, TRICARE and Express Scripts Inc. launched a TRICARE Express RX mobile app and mobile-optimized website in July. These tools allow TRICARE beneficiaries to manage their prescriptions and access important health information safely and securely from anywhere using their smart phone.

These are just a few examples of the leaps in technology-based military support this year. From smart phone apps to virtual counseling and support, I’ll be excited to see what sprouts up this year and in the years ahead.

6. Veteran employment initiatives. In November, President Barack Obama announced executive orders to give tax credits to employers who hire post-9/11 veterans and wounded warriors, as well as enhanced career counseling and related services for veterans.

As reported by my colleague Donna Miles, the president announced a new Returning Heroes Tax Credit that will provide companies up to $5,600 in credits for each unemployed veteran they hire. Similarly, a new Wounded Warriors Tax Credit offers employers up to $9,600 for each veteran with service-connected disabilities they hire.

The president also unveiled two new Internet-based job search tools for unemployed veterans: My Next Move for Veterans, where veterans can browse career options and translate their military experience to a civilian application, and the Veterans Job Bank, where veterans can seek jobs posted by companies committed to hiring them.

5. The Job Fair Movement. Also aimed at employment, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored about 75 veteran and spouse hiring fairs around the country, with a goal of hosting 100 hiring fairs within a year. And the chamber has committed to hosting 300-400 additional hiring fairs for veterans and military spouses around the country in 2012, Navy Capt. Bradley Cooper, executive director of the Joining Forces campaign, told me in an interview last month.

In mid-January, the chamber will host its first military-spouse-only hiring fair and career forum, looking to bring together more than 100 employers and more than 1,000 spouses.

There’s also been an emergence of virtual hiring fairs, which is an asset to people unable to attend a hiring fair due to distance or who want to see what’s available in other locations. Milicruit hosted a virtual fair recently that included more than 24,000 jobs from nearly 70 employers with more than 30,000 veterans and spouses engaged in the process.

4. Military Spouse Employment Partnership. This DOD program is aimed at expanding career opportunities for military spouses worldwide, and to recognize the skills and talents they bring to the employment table. The program’s website lists more than 70,000 jobs for military spouses.

Since its launch in June, the partnership has grown from 72 companies to 96, and has led to the hiring of more than 8,000 military spouses.

3. Strengthening Our Military Families. In January, President Barack Obama unveiled a governmentwide plan to strengthen military family support. The plan was based on a yearlong review summarized in the report “Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment.”

The report outlines four key areas which the whole-of-government effort plans to address: enhancing military families’ well-being and psychological health; developing military spouse career and education opportunities; increasing child care availability and quality; and ensuring excellence in military children’s education and development.

In total, Obama said, his administration is making nearly 50 specific commitments to military families. But the government can’t accomplish this mission alone.

“Government has its responsibilities,” he said. “One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but a hundred percent of Americans need to be supporting our troops and their families — a hundred percent.”

2. The Joining Forces campaign. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, announced this landmark military-support initiative in April. Joining Forces aims to raise awareness of military families and spark all Americans — from citizens and communities, to businesses and nonprofit groups -– to take action to ensure troops and their families have the support they need and deserve. The initiative focuses on three areas: employment, education and wellness.

“This campaign is about all of us, all of us joining together as Americans to give back to the extraordinary military families who serve and sacrifice so much every day so we can live in freedom and security,” the first lady said at the White House’s campaign launch.

The campaign has made tremendous inroads in tackling veteran and spouse employment in recent months, Cooper said. In about three months, the campaign went from teaming with 100 companies to more than 1,500, and from 1,500 people hired to nearly 20,000. These companies aim to hire upward of 135,000 veterans and spouses over the next couple of years, he added.

1. Iraq War Ends. After nearly nine years, the war in Iraq ended, and the final group of U.S. troops returned home Dec. 20 — just in time for the holidays.

The nation owes a debt to all service members and their families, President Barack Obama said Dec. 15.

“This moment of success is because of their sacrifice,” he said. “More than 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq. More than 30,000 of these brave men and women were wounded. Nearly 4,500 gave their lives. America’s military families have borne a heavy burden.

“As we mark the end of this war, we need to show our veterans and their families that they have the thanks of a grateful nation,” he added. “Part of ending a war responsibly is standing by those who have fought it. It’s not enough to honor our heroes with words; we must do so with deeds.”

That’s my top 10, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t add a shout out to military families worldwide. In this past year, some families endured the terrible pain of losing a military loved one to combat or illness. Others sat by a bedside day and night, praying for the speedy recovery of their child or spouse who returned home with the visible or invisible wounds of war. And still others held down home fronts, bolstering their children through deployments and long separations.

As in every year of this past decade of war, these families have weathered 2011 with amazing resilience and strength.

I’d like to join the rest of the nation in saying thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

Airmen benefit from 10 years of good will

by Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/28/2011 - NAMPA, Idaho -- Members of the 366th Fighter Wing, local community leaders and officials celebrated the 10th anniversary of working together with residents from Silvercrest Estates II in Nampa, Idaho, who donated more than $15,000 as well as approximately 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, toys and 300 blankets to Mountain Home Air Force Base families through Operation Warmheart this year alone.

"Silvercrest does a fantastic job of supporting our Gunfighters through Operation Warmheart," said U.S. Air Force Col. Ron Buckley, 366th FW commander.

After the horrific events of 9/11, the small senior community made the decision to assist service members any way they could.

"After we were attacked on 9/11 we formed a committee to decide what we could do to help military personnel," said Rita Albers, who, with her husband, Bud, has managed the community's Operation Warmheart fundraising events for the last 10 years. "We contacted Mountain Home Air Force Base because they were the closest active-duty unit to us and told them we wanted to help."

Community residents contributed so much, the 366th FW first sergeants filled an entire 16-foot trailer with the donations.

"The community's donations are very critical to our success," said Master Sgt. Mikel Caraway, 366th Maintenance Operations Squadron first sergeant and Operation Warmheart president. "We have been working with them since 2001. Last year they donated close to $20,000 and at least $11,000 this year. We could not do what we do without their ongoing support."

The donations and supplies are dispersed to military families who may be dealing with financial hardship.

"These types of generous donations also help us fund close to 300 holiday meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas," Caraway said.

Fundraising groups like Silvercrest II and other corporate sponsors are vital to the continued success of Operation Warmheart.

"We just try to give as much as possible and meet the needs of the military personnel," Albers said.

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 28

1867 - U.S. claims Midway Island, first territory annexed outside Continental limits.
1905 - Drydock Dewey left Solomon's Island, MD, enroute through the Suez Canal to the Philippines to serve as repair base. This, the longest towing job ever accomplished, was completed by Brutus, Caesar, and Glacier on 10 July 1906.
1941 - Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks requests that construction battalions be recruited.
1982 - Recommissioning of USS New Jersey (BB-62), the first of four Iowa-class battleships that were returned to service in 1980s.
1990 - LCDR Darlene M. Iskra becomes commander of USS Opportune, a salvage vessel.
1998 - USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS America (CV-66) Carrier Battle Groups deploy from Norfolk, VA, for Middle East to join Operation Desert Shield.

Makin Island ARG Underway Following Singapore Port Visit

From Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs

USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- The three ships that make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) got underway once again Dec. 27, following a Christmas holiday port visit to Singapore.

The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), which serves as the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), as well as the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).

Makin Island arrived in Singapore Dec. 21. New Orleans and Pearl Harbor arrived Dec. 23.

While in the "Lion City," Sailors and Marines from the Makin Island ARG had an opportunity to observe the local culture, take part in a variety of Morale, Welfare and Recreation sponsored tours, and use the time in port to make telephone calls to friends and family for Christmas.

Most Sailors and Marines on liberty celebrated their holiday in Singapore with shopping, seeing movies, dining at local restaurants and sightseeing.

Sailors and Marines also took part in community service projects around Singapore during the port visit. Many of these projects involved bringing Christmas gifts to needy children in the area.

"Most of the community service projects I've done involve a lot of maintenance and upkeep," said Chief Warrant Officer Marc Lefebvre, a Makin Island Sailor who dressed as Santa Claus and handed out presents at a local children's center. "The unique thing about this one was that you got to see the reaction of what it meant to the people you were helping, and I think the kids really enjoyed it."

Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla II, PHIBRON 5 commander, said that Singapore remains one of the great port calls for Sailors and Marines, and being there for the Christmas holidays made the visit exceptionally memorable.

"Singapore is still the crossroads of international maritime trade," said Quintanilla. "The unique blend of Asian cultures and business interests from around the world always makes it a very engaging port visit for young Sailors and Marines. This is the city-state they vaunt to family and friends as being a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The Makin Island ARG deployed Nov. 14 in support of the nation's maritime strategy and has been conducting theater security cooperation missions in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).

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.

Flag Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced today that the President has made the following nomination:

Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III has been nominated for reappointment to the rank of admiral and for assignment as commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Honolulu, Hawaii.  Locklear is currently serving as commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe/commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and commander, Allied Joint Forces Command, Naples, Italy.

USS New Mexico Crew Extends Birthday Wishes to New Mexico to Celebrate Centennial

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

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The entire crew of the Virginia-class submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) extended their birthday wishes on video, Dec. 27, to the state of New Mexico to celebrate their centennial - 100 years of statehood. 

The state of New Mexico will officially celebrate its statehood centennial Jan. 6, 2012. 

"What an honor it is for me personally, and for my crew to pay our respects to our namesake state," said Cmdr. George Perez, Jr., commanding officer of New Mexico since October 2010. "It's not often in one's Navy career, while in command, that you can help a state celebrate their centennial."

Perez and the New Mexico Committee came up with the idea for the video greeting as a way to recognize the strong ties the committee and the state has with its Virginia-class submarine.

"The committee has a strong history of assisting the crew in a variety of ways from sending holiday lights to decorate our submarine to creating a home environment using Southwest style bunk and passageway curtains," said Perez.

 The birthday wish video will also be used by Dick Brown, chairman, USS New Mexico Committee, as a way to commemorate the state's proud history and heritage.

"Within our committee, ideas for supporting USS New Mexico continue to surface," said Brown. "We just sent 1,800 red and green Chile pepper Christmas lights for the crew to make their submarine stand out on the waterfront during this holiday season."

 Brown added that while the submarine isn't able to journey up the Rio Grande for port calls during their Centennial celebration, they will plan to utilize the video to show the strong bond between the submarine and the committee.

"We plan to distribute the birthday wish video to TV stations statewide, which illustrates the strong relationship between our undersea warriors and the citizens of New Mexico," said Brown.

There are currently 127 officers and enlisted Sailors assigned to New Mexico. The ship is named in recognition of the people of the "Land of Enchantment." The battleship New Mexico (BB 40), in commission from 1918 to 1946 and the only other ship named after the 47th state, earned six battle stars for World War II service, which included providing shore bombardment support for landings in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Guam, Tinian, Saipan, the Philippines, and Okinawa. BB 40 acted as the flagship for the Pacific Fleet during the 1920s. She was present at the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

CSAF thanks Wolf Pack for commitment to service during holidays

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/28/2011 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz visited the Wolf Pack here Dec. 23-26 to meet with wing leaders, Airmen and Soldiers during the holiday season.

The general's base visit came after a stop in Seoul, where he met with senior Republic of Korea and U.S. military leaders.

"The American servicemembers serving here in South Korea are doing an outstanding job," Schwartz said. "They truly are representative of the United States' commitment to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies."

During his trip to Kunsan, Schwartz met with Airmen and Soldiers during workcenter visits around the base, and had candid discussions with many during a breakfast with first sergeants, and two separate lunches with Wolf Pack officers and first-term Airmen.

"The austere fiscal environment our country faces means we're going to face some challenges," Schwartz said, addressing the future state of the Air Force amid budget reductions. "The Air Force will have to make some serious choices because of this, but we are committed to preserving our readiness so that we remain a highly capable force."

Schwartz was also able to spread some holiday cheer at Kunsan, visiting Airmen processing the many care packages and cards at the Post Office, and by attending various unit holiday parties.

"It can be difficult to be away from family during the holidays, so I wanted to personally thank those serving here so far away from home," Schwartz said. "Our nation appreciates what our Airmen are doing at Kunsan and all around the world, and their important role in maintaining the peace."

On Dec. 25, Schwartz visited the many Airmen on duty at Kunsan, to include those guarding the base gates, managing airfield operations and maintaining the 8th Fighter Wing's F-16 Fighting Falcons. He also helped serve a special holiday dinner at the O'Malley Dining Facility.

"The high operations tempo can make Kunsan a tough place to serve, but the famous Wolf Pack esprit de corps is everywhere you look," Schwartz said. "I've been really impressed by the professionalism of the entire team."

Such dedication to the mission can be seen in the base's recent operational readiness inspection "Excellent" rating, Schwartz said.

"Kunsan Air Base is a shining example of the U.S. military's commitment to excellence," Schwartz said. "We're proud to serve alongside our South Korean allies, and I couldn't be more proud of those serving here today."

Those who serve supporting those who served...

Those who serve supporting those who served
Veterans at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital were honored to have a visit on Thanksgiving from the Commanding General of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, Brigadier General John McGuiness, a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and his wife Gail.

The general and his wife came to share in Chapel Services with Veterans and spent time visiting with Veteran patients on the wards. The Veterans were all to happy to share their stories and give offers of thanks to BG McGuiness and his wife for their visit. I repeatedly heard BG McGuiness and his wife offer, “we’re here to thank you”.

As the visit neared the end, BG McGuiness and his wife walked through the halls stopping to chat with Veterans and their loved ones. It was clear there would never be enough time for our guests to enjoy the Veterans.

The Natick Soldier Systems Center is the only active duty Army installation in New England and its mission is to unburden, empower and protect the Soldier. Everything from the boots on the Soldiers feet, to the Meals Ready to Eat that they consume to the airdropped supplies that they receive is researched and developed on the 78 acre campus in Natick.

McGuiness, who most recently served as the Deputy Commander for Programs, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, previously served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and is a 1983 graduate of the United States Military Academy. He also earned a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and a graduate of the Program of Management Development at the Harvard Business School.

Since taking command of the Natick Soldier Systems Center in May, 2011, the general and his wife have reached out on many occasions to thank Veterans and organizations that support Soldiers and Veterans.

The Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital is honored to provide assistance to those who served our country. We provide diverse services and provide excellence in our care for Veterans. Learn more about the services available at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital by visiting our website at:

Deployed Sisters Reunite in Afghanistan

By Army Spc. Eric-James Estrada
4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Dec. 28, 2011 – What started as a simple journey for Army 2nd Lt. Tess White turned into a race against time to see her sister, Army Sgt. Tobey White, before her tour of duty ended in Afghanistan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army 2nd Lt. Tess White, left, and Army Sgt. Tobey White unwrap presents on Christmas Day on Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan.
Tess’ journey began Dec. 9, when she left Fort Richardson, Alaska, and traveled around the world, all the while worried she would miss her sister, who was nearing the end of her deployment. Her worries were unfounded as she arrived at Forward Operating Base Salerno on Dec. 21 and reunited with her sister.

The sisters, Columbus, Ohio, natives, have a rich family military history. Both parents are former Marines, and a member of their family has fought in every war since the Civil War.

Now, the two sisters claim their own place in the family legacy as the first two females to deploy in support of a war. Their mother, Hollie Andrews, was the family’s first female to join the military.

Tess, officer in charge for the joint visitor bureau, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Task Force Spartan, said she and her sister are competitive with each other, and joining the military was no different.

Both sisters competed to be the first commissioned officer. When Tobey, a public affairs specialist for HHC, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, first entered Officer Candidate School, Tess was still in college going through ROTC and was thrilled for her sister, until she realized one important aspect.

“Tobey’s going to commission before me and outrank me,” Tess said.
Tess added that her sister has yet to salute her.
“I’ve saluted you,” Tobey said with a lighthearted stare. “Remember after you received your commission?”
Tobey joined the enlisted side after an injury prevented her from completing Officer Candidate School. After her injury, Tobey was faced with a decision: leave the Army or find another path to pursue. She spoke with her father, who gave her blunt advice.

“We’re not quitters. Do want you want to, but we are not quitters,” he told her.

Her father’s words inspired her to continue with an Army career, and she retrained as a public affairs specialist.

“Failing out of OCS was probably the best thing for me because it gave me the opportunity to work in public affairs,” Tobey said, “which is what I wanted to do anyway. I was very pleased with the end result.”

For Tess, serving her country always has been a lifelong dream. In high school she tried to enlist in the Marine Corps, but her father, a former Marine `gunnery sergeant and Desert Storm veteran, made a deal with her.
“‘Give me one year of college; if you don’t like it, then you can join.’ That was the deal we made,” Tess said.
Tess joined the ROTC program at Ohio State University, where she received a two-year ROTC scholarship and earned her commission.

She also met her husband at the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Wash. He’s finishing field artillery training and hopes to join the 2nd Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment of the 4th ABCT.

A running joke between the sisters and their parents is whose service is the toughest. Their mother, a former Marine Corps corporal, enjoys teasing her daughters.
Tess recalled when she attended a military ball while a cadet. “I wore my Class As and my mom tells me, ‘I never thought one of my daughters would ever wear those greens,’” she said. “I was about ready to cry.”

Tobey said when she was deciding which service to join, her parents were supportive. They told her, “It’s your life. Choose the service that is the best fit for you.”
However, upon signing the contract, her parents teased her by saying the Marines were too tough.
As Tobey’s tour comes to a close and Tess’ begins, the sisters said they were grateful to spend some time together, especially during the holidays.
“I lugged a few gifts with me just to have her open them on Christmas,” Tess said.
Tobey left her younger sister with a few words of encouragement.

“Your deployment will be what you make of it,” she told her. “If you stay focused, workout, and don’t get complacent, the time will fly by.”
“Take care of Dad,” Tess responded. “Mom will be fine, but you know Dad will spend every other day worrying.”
Tess then proceeded to give her sister one more taunt about why she is better.
“I’m airborne and she’s not. Airborne, Hooah!” joked Tess.