Thursday, March 15, 2012

Obama Welcomes ‘Rock-solid’ Ally to White House

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron reaffirmed the “rock-solid” alliance between their two countries at a White House welcome ceremony this morning.

The two men and their staffs will discuss a range of issues from Afghanistan and NATO to economic policy and trade.

The United States and Great Britain are the strongest of allies, Obama said in his welcome speech on the South Lawn of the White House. “Down the decades we’ve seen nations rise and fall; wars fought and peace defended; a city divided, a wall come down; countries imprisoned behind an Iron Curtain, then liberated,” the president said.

The Cold War ended and the information age began. The world transformed. “Yet, through the grand sweep of history, through all its twists and turns, there is one constant: the rock-solid alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom,” the president said.

The U.S.-U.K. alliance is essential to security and prosperity around the globe, Obama said.

Cameron noted he was standing in front of the Executive Mansion, which British troops burned during the War of 1812. “Since that unfortunate episode 200 years ago, generations of British and American servicemen and women have fought together,” the prime minister said.

From 1941 to the present, from Normandy to Helmand province, British and American forces have fought side-by-side. “There can be no more tangible illustration of our two nations defending our values and advancing our interests than the mutual sacrifice made by our servicemen and women,” Cameron said. “And let us once again pay tribute to their valor, their courage, their professionalism and their dedication here in Washington today.”

Cameron said British personnel are proud to serve with American service members. “When the chips are down, Britain and America know that we can always count on each other because we are allies not just prepared to say the right thing, but to do the right thing and to do it in the right way, promoting our values, standing up for our ideals,” he said. “The partnership between our countries, between our peoples is the most powerful partnership for progress that the world has ever seen.”

Truman Sailors Participate in National Reading Program

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David R. Finley Jr., USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) volunteered at a local school March 12 to participate in "Read Across America" (RAA).

RAA is an annual project created by the National Education Association in 1997. The program is designed to motivate children to read and emphasize the importance of reading.

Eight Truman Sailors read stories by Dr. Seuss to children in first-grade through fifth-grade at Sewells Point Elementary School.

"I think it is important for Truman Sailors to be involved with the schools," said Cmdr. Dan Rossler,
Truman's chief engineering officer. "A child's interest level in reading plays a vital role in their development."

Rossler said he enjoyed the chance to step away from the ship and read to his son's first-grade class.

"This event shows that our Sailors realize that it is not just enough to come to work and do our jobs," said Rossler. "We are also trying to get them to become better people. That involves going out into the community and volunteering their time."

Truman Sailors had a chance to read in more than 35 classrooms, said Frank Seemar, a communication skills specialist from Sewells Point Elementary.

"I noticed great participation today between the students and Truman Sailors," said Seemar. "The event gave the students a break from their everyday routine and allowed them to interact with Sailors."

Truman's Junior Enlisted Association (JEA) organized the project at the school and plans to provide tutoring sessions in the future.

"JEA is committed to an ongoing relationship with Sewells Point Elementary School," said Yeoman 3rd Class (SW/AW) Richard Gozon, JEA member and event coordinator. "We look forward to coming back to the school to volunteer."

Brain Injury Awareness: Tell Your Story on YouTube

By Jayne Davis, DCoE Strategic Communications

You have a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A lot has changed for you, but you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually. Think of the stories they could tell to help others learn about TBI prevention, improve understanding, increase knowledge, and get help. CDC encourages you and people who care about brain injury to share stories online at their Heads Up Film Festival YouTube page and Heads Up Facebook page.

The film festival gives brain injury a voice by allowing people with TBI to share their stories. You can talk about anything and everything in a video that gives meaning to your experience, then upload it to YouTube and tag it with “Heads Up Film Festival.” What caused your brain injury? What changes are you coping with? Name some awesome resources that make your recovery possible. Share what hurts, what helps, who listens, who cares.

Maybe you’re a health care provider, caregiver, coach, teacher or researcher—the festival invites stories from all perspectives. Traumatic brain injury has many voices. CDC wants to capture them all to provide inspiration to those recovering, raise awareness of preventative measures and increase recognition to improve response and recovery.

If video is not your game, CDC invites you to express your thoughts and share comments on its Heads Up Facebook page.

This is a great opportunity to help others learn from your experience with TBI. Join the growing number of people speaking up—a supportive community awaits you! If you are a service member or veteran who chooses to share a story, we’d like to share it too. Please keep us updated on the DCoE page on Facebook at

March is Brain Injury Awareness month.

February Suicide Information

The Army released suicide data today for the month of February.  During February, among active-duty soldiers, there were 11 potential suicides:  three have been confirmed as suicides and eight remain under investigation.  For January, the Army reported 16 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers.  Since the release of that report, 11 have been confirmed as suicides and five remain under investigation.  For calendar year (CY) 2012, there have been 27 potential active-duty suicides:  14 have been confirmed as suicides and 13 remain under investigation.  Updated active-duty suicide numbers for CY 2011:  166 (157 have been confirmed as suicides and nine remain under investigation).

During February, among Reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were three potential suicides (three Army National Guard and no Army Reserve):  none have been confirmed as suicide and three remain under investigation.  For January, among that same group, the Army reported six potential suicides (five Army National Guard and one Army Reserve).  Since the release of that report, four have been confirmed as suicides and two remain under investigation.  For CY 2012, there have been nine potential not on active duty suicides (eight Army National Guard and one Army Reserve):  four have been confirmed as suicides and five remain under investigation.  Updated not on active duty suicide numbers for CY 2011:  116 (80 Army National Guard and 36 Army Reserve); 113 have been confirmed as suicides and three remain under investigation.

 “Leaders across our Army recognize that the health of our soldiers, Army civilians and family members is a top priority.  We remain committed to doing what is needed to care for our most precious asset -- our people, thereby ensuring a healthy and resilient force for the future,” said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, vice chief of staff, U.S. Army.  “We must maintain our shared focus and continue these most important efforts in the days ahead.”

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and pressing “1” for military members and veterans or by visiting their website at .

The Army’s comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at .

Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at .

Suicide prevention training resources for soldiers, leaders, Department of the Army civilians, and family members can be accessed at (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

Information about Military OneSource is located at or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental U.S.  Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.

Information about the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at .

The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at and at .

The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is , and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council website is found at .

USS Missouri Welcomes Distinguished Visitors

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

USS MISSOURI, At sea (NNS) -- Distinguished visitors participated in a four-day embark aboard Virginia-class submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780), as it operated in the Atlantic Ocean, March 9.

The guests gained an appreciation and awareness of the capabilities of the Missouri as it transited from the Navy's Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in the Bahamas to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.

"As the first Senior Executive Service member to hold the new OPNAV N9I position, it was of great value to me to come to sea on the USS Missouri to see firsthand all the capabilities that are resident in this awesome warship," said Deputy Director Warfare Integration (N9I) Mike Novak.

Visitors witnessed the enhanced capabilities of the Virginia-class platform as the submarine transited through the oceans' depths. They also gained an appreciation for the submarine's enhanced sensor and ship's control capabilities, as well as a better understanding of what the platform provides to the nation's defense. Attack submarines provide offensive and defense capabilities to include: insertion of Special Forces, as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, commander, Submarine Group 2 hosted the distinguished visitors and discussed what Missouri's latest certification means not only to the submarine force, but to the nation's defense.

"After USS Missouri's commissioning and her impressive completion of its post-shake down availability the submarine is at a major transition point in the ship's life and is ready to go into harm's way in the defense of our nation," said Breckenridge. "It's an exciting time to be in the submarine force as USS Missouri joins the active fleet to assume her rightful position in defense of our nation."

Two academic leaders from Yale University also participated in the embark and reflected on the engineering marvels the agile platform provides and the takeaways they can bring back to the university for the benefit of their future scholars and new Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps class.

"The two biggest impressions I will share with my students and colleagues are that the Virginia-class submarine is an incredibly impressive engineering platform for the submarine force, and that the skill, dedication and commitment of the officers and crew are inspiring," said Paul Van Tassel, professor of engineering, Yale University.

Navy Capt. Glenn Kuffel, assigned to the Force Development office in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, discussed his personal takeaways from his embark experience.

"These boats have a great utility across a variety of missions in defense of our nation and our national security interests," said Kuffel.

Army Maj. Glen Clubb, an advisor for the deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans in OSD policy said experiencing life aboard a submarine provides a unique perspective.

"Books will not do it, one must have an experience like this to fully appreciate the capabilities provided by the submarine force," said Clubb.

On the final night aboard Missouri, the visitors witnessed a rite of passage when three officers and two enlisted Sailors received their dolphins granting them the right and honor to be called "submariners."

"It's a major milestone and first impressions mean a lot in the submarine force," said Lt. j.g. Joseph Innerst, one of the five submariners who received dolphins. "When you're submarine qualified you demonstrate the technical knowledge in all warfare capabilities."

Breckenridge praised the crew for the accomplishments and congratulated those who received dolphins.

"To the fighting men of USS Missouri, I'm very proud of you and wish you the best in all your endeavors," said Breckenridge.

Prior to the visitors' embark, Missouri successfully completed their operational certification and was deemed ready for tasking, which prepares the submarine and its crew for deployment. Cmdr. Tim Rexrode, Missouri's commanding officer reflected on the submarine's certification and reaching this pivotal milestone.

"The certification is the final testing of the ship in order to enter the Navy's deployment preparations," said Rexrode, who added that Missouri is the first Virginia-class submarine to complete its post-shake-down availability from General Dynamics Electric Boat six weeks early which directly supports the Navy's submarine force.

"When we partnered earlier on during our availability it delivered USS Missouri six weeks early and enabled us to support fleet exercises, which in turn provided the opportunity for other submarines to support major naval fleet exercises," said Rexrode.