Military News

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DCoE January Webinar Addresses Alcohol Misuse Among Service Members

By DCoE Strategic Communications

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) will host its next webinar, “Addressing Alcohol Misuse Among Service Members: The SBIRT Model,” Jan. 26 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (EST).

Did You Know?
Risky, hazardous and heavy drinking is steadily rising among service members and veterans. A 2008 study showed that rates of heavy alcohol use among service members increased from 15 percent in 1998 to 20 percent in 2008. Although the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provide alcohol treatment services, many service members and veterans are reluctant to seek care because of possible career consequences and stigma. Secondary prevention methods such as screening and brief interventions in non-specialty settings, may engage service members at an early stage of risky or hazardous drinking who otherwise would remain undetected and untreated.

Are You Aware of SBIRT?
The screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment model (also referred to as SBIRT) is a system-level approach to identify and treat persons with drinking problems. Research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has demonstrated that this treatment model is effective in identifying service members at risk of developing serious alcohol problems, reducing the frequency or severity of alcohol use and increasing the percentage of patients who enter specialized alcohol treatment. The treatment model is consistent with the VA/Defense Department Clinical Practice Guideline for Management of Substance Use Disorders and will aid health care providers in integrating a step-by-step process for clinical decision-making.

Featured speakers are:

 ■Stephen O’Neill, MA, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and SAMHSA State Grantee, Georgia BASICS, project director
■Dr. Katharine Bradley, MPH, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, affiliate associate professor

All professionals who care for service members are encouraged to attend, including service members and their families. To register or for more information, please email: DCoE.MonthlyWebinar@tma.osd.mil.

Continuing Education Units and Continuing Medical Education credits are now available. Click here for details.

Follow us on Twitter@DCoEPage during the webinar for live Tweeting and use #DCoEWebinar to join the conversation.

For previous DCoE monthly webinar topics, presentations, audio recordings and resources, visit the webinar section of the DCoE website.

Enterprise's 'Eyes and Ears' Prepare for Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Gregory White, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Combat Direction Center (CDC) aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) participated in a variety of training exercises as part of the carrier's composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) while underway in the Atlantic Ocean Jan. 16.

The CDC is responsible for tracking and identifying all surface, air and sub-surface contacts and communicating the acquired information throughout the ship and the strike group.

Computer systems and radars fill the spaces of CDC, and Sailors from many rates work together to gather, process, display and disseminate information.

"From intelligence to navigation, everything runs through CDC," said Chief Operations Specialist James Allen Cowling, the leading chief petty officer of the Operations Intelligence division. "We have things in there that we have to send all the way up to the Pentagon so they can make strategic, big-picture decisions, not only for our forces, but for all forces, based on the information received."

One of the many systems CDC utilizes is the Tactical Data Link system. The "Link" allows all information gathered across the strike group to be shared and updated.

Another important and advanced system that CDC uses is the Global Command and Control System-Maritime (GCCS-M), simply referred to as "geeks."

"GCCS-M is a system that can see the location of ships all over the world and gather input and intelligence," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Alcides J. Fuentes, a GCCS-M operator in CDC.

"Our 'geeks' personnel can see input from other ships around the world, so that helps us track contacts and put our game plan together," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Reginald L. Washington, the leading petty officer of the Operations Intelligence Division.

CDC is important to operations and the work center trains constantly. The training consists of performing numerous surface and air contact drills.

"To train for surface contacts, we often run drills that involve numerous ships coming into the vital area of our strike group," said Washington "We track them with our weapons ready as a precaution, and we have to identify them. If a contact becomes hostile, we take further measures."

"We take control of our vital area," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Danielle L. Robinson, a "geeks" system operator in CDC. "We can't let unknown contacts sit there. We use surface trackers and automatic identifying systems to identify and label contacts in a timely fashion."

Washington said when training for air contacts, CDC sometimes holds a "detect to engage" exercise, which simulates an actual engagement where an aircraft or missile breaches the ship's security range. CDC then tracks the contact, readies weapons and prepares to launch aircraft or its own defensive weapons.

"When this happens we need to know if it (the aircraft) is a hostile, a neutral, or a friendly before a decision is made to intercept and escort it out of our area," said Washington. "If it has already launched a weapon at us we have countermeasures to take care of that weapon, and we have countermeasures to defeat the aircraft itself."

The tactical action officer stands watch in the CDC and is the only person aboard, except for the commanding officer, with weapons release authority.

"He has defensive weapons release authority," said Washington. "He can make the decision to defend the ship by any means if we are fired upon, so if he needs to fire a weapon to defend the ship we will do that."

CDC has thus far completed all of their training exercises successfully and will continue training throughout COMPTUEX.

Air Guard flyover to honor Tuskegee Airman’s burial at Arlington Cemetery

113th Wing report

WASHINGTON  – Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers, Jr., a famed Tuskegee Airman decorated with multiple medals in World War II, will be buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 113th Wing, dubbed the ‘Capital Guardians’ from Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington, will perform a four-jet flyover to honor the life and service of Weathers.

A Congressional Gold Medal recipient who shot down two German Fighters, Weathers’ story is highlighted - along with dozens of other Tuskegee Airmen - in the new movie “Red Tails,” which happens to release in theaters the same day of his burial. The movie details the struggles of the all-black unit and their successes in defending aerial tankers in World War II.

“The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated heroes who gave so much for this country,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Johnson, 113th Wing commander. “It is an honor to perform a flyover for this brave American.”

Weathers earned a Distinguished Flying Cross flying P-51 and P-39 fighters, serving from 1942-1945.

The Weathers family shared their thoughts about the upcoming funeral; “Our family is sincerely humbled and thankful for all the hard work many have done throughout our nation in making this final departure for our beloved Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.) Luke J. Weathers, Jr., an Original Tuskegee Airmen, a reality."

After retiring, Weathers continued to serve his country by educating younger generations about military service and the Tuskegee bond, speaking at youth aviation day events at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington, among others.

Colorado Guard cooks get training from respected industry chef

By Army National Guard Spc. Zachary T. Sheely
Colorado National Guard

DENVER (1/18/12) - When people think of Army chow, a boxed lunch or a Meal, Ready-to-Eat may come to mind, which is why Army Capt. Mark Tommell, commander of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation, has enlisted the services of a professional chef and culinary instructor to teach his food service specialists the tricks of the trade - changing the way his Soldiers feel about chow.

Chef Ronald Lavallee, a culinary instructor at Johnson & Wales University, is a Vietnam veteran with 45 years in the food service industry. He's been working with the cooks of Company E since autumn 2011, and since Tommell called on him for assistance, the Soldiers tend to stick around for lunch on drill weekends.

"Since I've assumed command and Chef Lavallee has been here, we've seen the number of troops who stay and eat the meals that our Soldier food service specialists provide rise from 60 percent to approximately 90 percent, as opposed to going to the food court or commissary," Tommell said.

Not only has the quality of food improved, it's also much cheaper for the company than paying for civilian catering services to deliver food to Buckley Air Force Base on drill weekends.

"When an Army National Guard company orders catered meals, they receive $10.50 to spend for each Soldier," Tommell said. "We cook this food here with fresh produce and herbs for $3.72 per Soldier. With around 200 Soldiers in the company, we're saving just under $7 per Soldier, which averages out to about $1,400 per drill that we're saving on meals."

The improvement in food quality is a force multiplier, and the improved quality and savings is coming at no extra cost to the company, he said.

Lavallee works with the troops on a volunteer basis.

"My offering to the commander is to spend a minimum of 30 days with this unit to help them build and refine their techniques," Lavallee said. "I'm teaching fundamental techniques such as cutting vegetables the proper way to more advanced techniques such as braising, stewing, sautéing and roasting in the type of environment that they will be in.

"The objective is to prepare the food as expeditiously as possible, but correct in terms of proper methodology to get from point A to Z in a timely fashion with the correct product. In a field situation, you want to take the straightest line to accomplish your objective, because you certainly don't want to be wasting time."

Tommell, a graduate of Johnson & Wales, wishes to further Company E's relationship with the university to advance his Soldiers' culinary skills, and wants to see additional training with the school.

Food service specialists in the Army are given entry-level culinary training at their follow-on school after basic training, but Lavallee brings an "upscale flair" to the training and meals, said Army Sgt. Shannon Roppolo, a food service specialist and shift leader.

"No other Colorado Army National Guard company has a chef instructor from one of the best culinary colleges in America," she said. "And for him to be here is a privilege and an honor for us."

VA Career Fair, Expo Provides Opportunities for Veterans

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

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2012 – The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to answer President Barack Obama’s call for more employment opportunities for veterans, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said here yesterday during a “VA for Vets” career fair and exposition that provided thousands of potential job opportunities for veterans.

 “Many veterans will have the opportunity to walk out of this event with a job offer,” he said. “Others will leave with a second interview lined up for that final hiring decision.”

The event included the opportunity to prepare resumes on site and receive training on how to participate in a job interview.

Shinseki lauded the president and First Lady Michelle Obama for being “staunch advocates for veterans for the past three years.”

“In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order to increase veteran employment in the federal government,” he noted. “Today, veterans make up fully one-third of VA’s workforce, and we have increased that goal to 40 percent. We expect to make that in the next several years.”

Mary Santiago, VA’s director of veterans employment services, said about 6,400 public and private employers participated in the career fair and expo, and that the event was the first of its kind to bring all of the units that help veterans together under one roof.

“So it’s not only a career fair, it is an expo providing the services to all of our veterans all in the same place,” she said.

Shinseki pointed out the “VA for Vets” program is the first veteran recruitment, retention and reintegration tool created in the federal government designed to help hire and keep veterans as part of the country’s workforce.

“The idea is simple,” he said. “Who better to help veterans than fellow veterans?”

Santiago, a nine-year Army veteran who once worked with former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell when Powell was an Army general, explained how the program helps veterans by building off their military experience.

“We’re taking the experiences that they’ve had as veterans -- extensive experiences -- and applying them to positions that they can step in and just start doing the next day,” she said.

Veterans, she noted, come to the job market fully trained.

“The biggest issue we find right now is translating their military skills to ‘civvy speak,’ as we call it,” Santiago said. “Our program ‘VA for Vets’ allows them to do that through our system and through our coaches.”

Santiago said the unique career fair provides a multitude of job opportunities, ranging from intelligence analysts and program managers to staff assistants and medics. “It’s unbelievable the wide variety of jobs we are offering, especially from the private sector,” she added.

Veterans such as Marie Allen, who served six years in the active Army followed by eight more in the Army Reserve, attended the career fair and expo hoping her experience and flexibility would help her to walk away with a job.

“Whatever I can get a job in doing, I’m flexible,” Allen said. “And I have some experience. I’m a jack of all trades.”

Allen said she was previously unaware of many of the programs VA offers and didn’t realize she was eligible to apply for those benefits until she attended the career fair.

“This is more in-depth, and that is what I really need. I’m glad that it is available and accessible to us,” she said. “So I’m really looking forward to finding out more things that are available to me. I can’t wait. I’m excited.”

Santiago said the program’s goals are clear.

“Our mission here is a simple one: make sure that every veteran that comes here walks away knowing that they’ve been helped,” she said. “What we say here is, ‘Veterans, you have done your job. Now let us do ours.’”

Marine's Best Friend Shows Explosive-Detecting Capabilities

By Katherine H. Crawford, Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Office of Naval Research (ONR) hosted "Top Dog Demo 2012" where canines displayed the ability to detect explosives Jan. 18.

"These dogs have kept Marines alive by helping them move through the battle space," said Lisa Albuquerque, program manager for ONR's Naval Expeditionary Dog Program, part of ONR's Expeditionary Warfare and Combating Terrorism department. "Marines can focus on their mission because they've got these four-legged sensors helping to keep them safe."

ONR and its partners have been working to improve the canines in three primary areas: nutrition and physiology; stress and cognition; and olfaction, or sense of smell. The Top Dog technical demonstration at Southern Pines, N.C., was an opportunity for senior Navy leadership overseeing the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Detector Dog (IDD) 2.0 Project to see the canines in action.

IDD 2.0 is funded by the Joint IED Defeat Organization, with ONR and the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory teaming to execute the work for the Marine Corps. The technical demo included project researchers from North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University and the Naval Research Laboratory.

Currently, there are 280 IDDs deployed at forward operating bases in Afghanistan, supporting counter-IED missions.

Throughout the workday, the dogs are unleashed and on the go. They move in a circular pattern, hunting 50 to 100 meters out in front of the Marines. An IDD will respond to commands from this distance and can be redirected at a moment's notice without having to return to the Marine. It can detect smells even while running at full speed, and when it finds something suspicious, it alerts the unit.

"This is the only dog like this in the world," said Albuquerque. "It's extremely good in terms of answering the warfighter's requirements and an incredible force multiplier."

The IDDs are all hunting bloodline Labrador Retrievers, selected for their hunting abilities, endurance and sturdiness, so they're inherently "ruggedized" for their mission. These unique dogs are 100 percent mission-focused, having been custom-developed based on Marine requirements. For example, the dog has to be able to keep pace with a Marine on foot and to keep moving for long periods of time each day.

The IDD program places dogs at the squad level without any additional resources-financial or manpower-primarily because there is no need for special dog handlers. A Marine is selected from the unit, trained to work with the dog and returns to the squad as a member of a fire team operating with a live sensor-the IDD. When the Marine completes a tour, the dog returns stateside and is retrained and recertified by the government prior to being redeployed with another Marine.

The program originated in 2006 in response to a Universal Urgent Needs Statement for an off-leash explosive detector dog that could work in harsh infantry environments and provide remote IED protection with limited user training and no increase in personnel or infrastructure.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 30 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and more than 900 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,065 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Porter's VBSS Team Prepares for Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jesse L. Gonzalez, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS PORTER, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducted training while underway Jan. 18.

Porter is underway in the Atlantic Ocean to better prepare for real-world threats it may encounter on deployment.

Maritime interception operations require VBSS teams to intercept and determine the nature of vessels of interest. VBSS teams will board and search these vessels to determine if the vessel is hostile, said Ensign Bo Doran, the VBSS officer aboard Porter.

"Training works to prepare the team mentally and physically for real-world events," said Doran. "The VBSS teams need to train in order to develop the proficiency necessary to carry out missions effectively."

The 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation are primarily where the VBSS team will combat trafficking and piracy.

Piracy and the threat of terrorist activity impede commerce between the U.S. and its allies, said Fire Controlman 1st Class Christian A. Echeverri, a senior member of Porter's VBSS team.

"In the Mediterranean we encounter a lot of trafficking of drugs, oil and sometimes even weapons," said Echeverri. "When we are in 5th Fleet we focus on piracy, protecting our allies' waterways and helping vessels in distress."

VBSS teams also establish positive relationships with local militaries. These relationships improve cooperation when there are reports of pirates or other illegal activities in the area.

Sailors must meet specific pre-requisites, including weapons qualifications, physical fitness standards and swimming proficiency before they join a VBSS team

"Serving on the VBSS team is a tremendous responsibility but it's a real honor and a privilege to be entrusted with such responsibility," Doran said.

For more information about USS Enterprise or the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, visit www.enterprise.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65 and Twitter @TheCVN65.

You Celebrated New Year’s, Made Resolutions: Now What?

By Dr. Vladimir Nacev, DCoE clinical psychologist

Now that the holidays are over, some of us may be struggling with resolutions—coming to terms with last year’s and already frustrated with this year’s. However, the best time to evaluate or assess last year’s resolutions was last year. The idea is that at New Year’s we start new, and hopefully with lessons learned from previous years. Based on my clinical experiences, I’ve found that many people find dealing with resolutions a bit frustrating; some may feel guilty when their goals aren’t met, and others may give up completely before long. Not surprising, keeping up with resolutions can be both challenging and rewarding. To be successful, people need a meaningful support resource—one that coaches, encourages, offers hope and lifts us up when we fall.

The concept of recovery has two similar, guiding principles—that of encouragement and hope. Recovery services are designed to support individuals seeking to overcome a variety of emotional, behavioral, and physical injuries, which exist on a continuum of improved health and wellness, and are integral to effective treatment outcomes and successful reintegration. Regardless of whether you’re experiencing an emotional, behavioral or physical problem, being continuously encouraged, hopeful and believing that it’s possible to regain a meaningful life, is an invaluable and powerful medicine.

Today’s model of recovery care calls for recovery support to be introduced much earlier; at the time of diagnosis and initial treatment, and requires that a complement of people and organizations be involved. It includes not only the service member and provider, but also the family, command or civilian employer and community. The aim is to help the wounded service member and family look beyond mere survival and existence. This encourages them to move forward, set new goals, engage in activities and develop relationships that give their lives meaning. Recovery support emphasizes that while people may not have full control over their treatment and symptoms, they can have full control over their lives.

Service members being treated for post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, often feel vulnerable, stressed, sometimes helpless and challenged both emotionally and physically. These experiences are real and have a direct impact on an individual’s recovery. When supporting service members or veterans during their recovery, it’s important to encourage them to develop their skills and support them to achieve their goals. Further, it’s important for those in recovery to feel that people believe in them, that people are listening to them, that they get explanations for problems or experiences, and that they have the opportunity to temporarily reassign responsibility during periods of crisis.

Recovery is a process—it can also be a voyage of self-discovery and personal growth, providing opportunities for change, reflection and discovery of new values, skills and interests.

Abraham Lincoln Arrives in U.S. 5th Fleet

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Welch, Carrier Strike Group 9 Public Affairs

USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) arrived for a routine deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO), Jan. 19.

Abraham Lincoln conducted work-ups for months to train, man and equip the CSG prior to it deploying to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO, to support maritime security operations, counter-piracy operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and conduct air missions over Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Our strike group has trained countless hours to ensure our Sailors are ready to conduct vital operations," said Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander, CSG 9. "We're looking forward to working closely with our coalition and regional partners to keep the sea lanes safe and secure for the free flow of maritime commerce that is so important for the continued prosperity of nations in this region and around the world."

Abraham Lincoln CSG is comprised of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, which includes the guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).

"From our air wing to the destroyer squadron and other surface combatant ships, we have a fantastic team," said Capt. John D. Alexander, Lincoln's commanding officer. "We provide a flexible, adaptable and persistent force that will support the regional commander by providing the greatest assets the Navy has to offer."

The arrival of Lincoln brings the number of aircraft carriers to two within the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO. Carl Vinson arrived in theater, Jan. 9. A second aircraft carrier in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR) ensures the U.S. military has the naval and air capabilities to support operational requirements while adequately meeting other security commitments in the region. The aircraft carriers will simultaneously conduct operations in different areas of the AOR, to adequately provide support operations requirements and other security commitments in the region.

Abraham Lincoln departed its homeport of Everett, Wash., Dec. 7, for a deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet AOOs. The ship departed Laem Chabang, Thailand, Jan. 10, following a four-day port visit prior to transiting to U.S. 5th Fleet. Following deployment, Lincoln will change homeports from Everett, Wash., to Norfolk, Va., for a periodic refueling complex overhaul.

Walsh Receives Republic of Korea's Highest Peacetime Award

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Kolmel, Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, received the Republic of Korea's Tong-il medal, that nation's highest peacetime military award during a ceremony at the consulate in Honolulu, Jan. 18.

Young-kil Suh, Republic of Korea (ROK) consul general in Honolulu, presented Walsh the award for the U.S. Pacific Fleet's support following the sinking of ROKS Cheonan (PCC-772) and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010.

Suh cited Walsh's "34 years of selfless service and distinguished leadership" and expressed his "sincere appreciation for [Walsh's] tireless work and contributions to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, including Korean interests."

The admiral, who this week is ending his nearly two-and-a-half years as Pacific Fleet commander, expressed his appreciation for the special recognition.

"To have the confidence of the Korean government, to have such a medal is quite extraordinary," Walsh said, "it makes me really proud of the work we have accomplished at Pacific Fleet."

Walsh reminded those at the consulate that events on the peninsula illustrate the importance of remaining ready to protect our assets on a moment's notice.

"In June 1950, we learned how quickly things can change, and in March 2010 we were reminded again of how quickly things can change," Walsh said. "We had a relationship (with the Republic of Korea navy) that grew in terms of strength and capacity brought on by the sinking of the Cheonan in the spring of 2010. We worked with them closely in terms of training and identifying the needs of their current navy and their future navy."

Suh noted the award also cited Walsh for increasing strong bonds between the U.S. Navy and the Republic of Korea navy.

"I firmly believe the Korean and U.S. alliance has been strong since the Korean War," Suh said. "And it will be even stronger through continuous cooperation and collaboration like the one Adm. Walsh has shown."