Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Lady Talks Military Family Support on ‘Letterman’

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2012 – First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged Americans to rally in support of military families during an appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman” last night.

The first lady shared a few laughs with Letterman, but then grew serious when the topic turned to her Joining Forces campaign. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, launched this initiative last year to boost support to troops, veterans and their families.

Service members and their families have served and sacrificed for more than a decade, the first lady noted, yet most Americans are unaware of the extent of their challenges. “We take it for granted because we have 1 percent of this nation serving and protecting the rights of the other 99 percent of us,” she said.

Growing up in south Chicago and with limited exposure to the military, the first lady said, she wasn’t aware of these challenges either until recently. “It wasn’t until I started campaigning and traveling around to military bases where I got to meet these very resilient, proud, disciplined, smart individuals,” she said. “I thought, ‘Most Americans have no clue about the level of sacrifice they’re making so we can live in freedom.’”

The Joining Forces campaign is intended to ensure every service member, veteran and family member understands “they live in a grateful nation,” she said.

Obama cited the progress she’s seen in military family support since Joining Forces launched last spring, particularly in the area of employment. Organizations have been hosting veteran job fairs across the nation, and President Barack Obama has launched programs and incentives to encourage private-sector employers to hire veterans.
Due to these efforts and others, she said, the unemployment rate among veterans is decreasing at a faster pace than the broader unemployment rate. As of last week, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was down from last year’s high of 12.5 percent to 7.6 percent, below the national rate of 8.3 percent.

While this progress is a “great thing,” the first lady said, she also called attention to military spouses’ employment challenges. In this decade of war, military spouses have moved forward despite the challenges of frequent moves and deployments -- all while caring for children and a household.

But when it comes to moving forward in their own careers, she said, military spouses often run up against a brick wall as they’re forced to kick-start their careers at each new location.

“These men and women are just as trained, they are just as prepared, they are just as competent” as their civilian-life counterparts, Obama said. “They’re some of the best this country has to offer.”

The first lady encouraged people to find military families in their midst and then “do whatever they do best,” whether it’s offering to mow a lawn or babysit for a family with a deployed loved one, or providing pro bono accounting or attorney services.

Obama also noted the importance of caring for children from military families. It’s hard to imagine what they’re going through, she said, as they move from base to base every couple of years. She recalled meeting children attending their 12th school in nearly the same number of years.

Still, they’re keeping their grades up and are “still managing to keep it all together,” she said. “Just imagine what these kids need.”

Military families need to be on the forefront of Americans’ minds, she told the audience. And, through Joining Forces, “we’ll do everything we can to rally support for them so that they never feel that they’re alone in this.”

Certified Nurses Recognized at Naval Hospital Bremerton

By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) recognized Certified Nurses Day March 19 by acknowledging the professional credibility, achievement and improved patient care of staff members with nursing certification.

"It takes a lot of work, dedication and commitment to become a certified nurse," said Capt. Iris Boehnke, Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) director of Nursing Services, noting that there are 64 nurses at NHB out of 169 who have achieved their certification. "We have almost 38 percent of our staff certified, which is almost double the national average of less than 20 percent."

Lt. Cmdr Cherri Vilhauer was specifically honored for holding the longest certification tenure of 22 years as an operating room nurse, and Cmdr. Thecly Scott for holding the most certifications with four in electronic fetal monitoring, inpatient obstetrics, nurse midwife, and women's health nurse practitioner.

"I extend congratulations to everyone who has gone above and beyond for their certification. We all benefit, especially our patients. Certified nurses improve on our overall quality, safety and patient care," said Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB commanding officer.

The date is testimony to the enduring legacy of Margretta "Gretta" Madden Styles, doctor of education, registered nurse and Fellowship of American Academy Nursing (1903-2005). March 19 is Styles' birthday, and she became known as the 'Mother of Nurse Credentialing' and a visionary scholar who made an international impact on the nursing profession.

"Today is Certified Nurses Day, " said Cmdr. Doug Stephens, officer-in-charge of The David R. Ray Health Center at Naval Branch Health Center EverettI owe a lot to the nurses that got me where I am today. The thousands of certified nurses in the U.S. today and the growing role of certification in contributing to better patient outcomes are a lasting testament to Styles legacy. So, have a great day and thank you for everything that you do every day."

According to Lt. Cmdr. David J. McIntire, NHB Critical Care department head, registered nurse, BSN (Bachelor's of Science in Nursing), CCRN (adult critical care nursing), board certification of nurses plays an increasingly important role in the assurance of high standards of care for patients and their loved ones. Nursing, like health care in general has become increasingly complex. While a registered nurse license provides entry to general nursing practice, the knowledge-intensive requirements of modern nursing require extensive education, as well as a strong personal commitment to excellence by the nurse.

"Becoming a certified nurse is proof you know your profession and certification in specific fields varies but not by much," said Lt. Cmdr. Geoffrey Plant, of NHB's Family Medicine and board certified in medical-surgical nursing.

Plant achieved his certification approximately 10 years ago, which has to be renewed every five years. The initial eligibility criteria in Plant's field requires a nurse to hold a current, active registered nurse (RN) license within a state or territory of the U.S. or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country; have practiced the equivalent of two years full-time as an RN; have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in the specialty area of medical-surgical nursing within the last three years; and have completed 30 hours of continuing education in medical-surgical nursing within the last three years.

"After putting in the hard work, then electing to get tested on your knowledge and competency and then passing the test really proves in an objective way that you know your job," Plant said.

There are 28 certifications in specific nursing fields held by staff members at NHB, including adult clinical nurse specialist, adult registered nurse practitioner, ambulatory perianesthesia nurse, case management, critical care nurse, electronic fetal monitoring, emergency room nursing, family nurse practitioner, gastroenterology nurse, infection control and epidemiology, inpatient obstetrics, lactation consultant, lactation educator, legal nurse consultant, maternal newborn nursing, medical-surgical nurse, neonatal intensive care nurse, nurse midwife, occupational health nurse specialist, operating Room nurse, pediatric emergency nurse, pediatric nurse practitioner, post anesthesia care nursing, professional in healthcare quality, professional in utilization review, registered nurse anesthetists, women's health nurse practitioner and wound ostomy continence nurse.

Navy Medicine is a global healthcare network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

Obama Calls for Understanding Between Iranians, Americans

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2012 – As Iran and other nations celebrate Nowruz -- the Persian New Year -- President Barack Obama called for understanding between Americans and Iranians.

The president noted the tensions between the Iranian government and the rest of the world over the government’s nuclear program.

“To the people of Iran, this holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries,” the president said in a video message on the holiday. “But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share.”

The president maintained no reasons exist for the United States and Iran to be divided. “Here in the United States, Iranian-Americans prosper and contribute greatly to our culture,” he said. He noted that the Iranian film “A Separation” won this year’s Academy Award for best foreign language film.

The U.S. and Iranian navies have taken on the danger of piracy together, and U.S. sailors have rescued Iranian citizens who had been taken hostage, Obama said. “And from Facebook to Twitter -- from cell phones to the Internet -- our people use the same tools to talk to one another, and to enrich our lives,” he added.

But the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want, Obama said. “Instead, the Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts,” he said. “It censors the Internet to control what the Iranian people can see and say. The regime monitors computers and cell phones for the sole purpose of protecting its own power.”

The Iranian government has increased controls to the extent that its citizens cannot communicate freely with their loved ones within Iran, or beyond its borders. “Technologies that should empower citizens are being used to repress them,” the president said.

This “electronic curtain” has stopped the free flow of ideas both ways, Obama noted. “I want the Iranian people to know that America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations,” he added.

The president announced the creation of a “virtual embassy” for the Iranian people. “Even as we’ve imposed sanctions on the Iranian government, today my administration is issuing new guidelines to make it easier for American businesses to provide software and services into Iran that will make it easier for the Iranian people to use the Internet,” he said.

Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away, the president said.

“The Iranian people are the heirs to a great and ancient civilization,” he said. “Like people everywhere, they have the universal right to think and speak for themselves. The Iranian government has a responsibility to respect these rights, just as it has a responsibility to meet its obligations with regard to its nuclear program.”

The president reiterated that if the Iranian government pursues a responsible path, it will be welcomed once more among the community of nations, and the Iranian people will have greater opportunities to prosper.

Four San Diego Sailors Rescue Victims in Head-on Collision

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR,Hawaii (NNS) -- Four San Diego-based Sailors were the first responders to a wrong-way collision accident along Nimitz Highway in Honolulu, March 18.

A Geo Metro went the wrong way in the west-bound lanes of Nimitz Highway before making a U-turn on Sand Island Access Road where it proceeded toward oncoming traffic on the east-bound side. The Geo Metro collided with a Toyota 4-Runner leaving one man dead and three others seriously injured.

Felimo Batacan, the driver of the 4-Runner, said it was strange to see so many cars stopped on the other side of the highway until he saw the two headlights coming at his car. He said he tried to wake his wife, Caroline, as he stepped hard on the brakes.
"Bam-it felt like an explosion into my face," said Batacan.

The police said the driver who caused the wreck had been drinking.

The four Sailors were on their way back to base when they witnessed the Geo Metro driving on their side of the highway in the opposite direction. When they saw the car make the U-turn, they said they knew what was about to happen.

Chief Personnel Specialist Augustin Blanco, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Bart Loui Stanisz, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Kevin Keosibounheuang and Information Systems Technician 1st Class Shaun Camantigue, all assigned to Navy Region Southwest Reserve Component Command in San Diego, were on their way to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam when they witnessed the accident at around 3 a.m.

"When we saw the car making the U-turn going on to the other side of traffic, we knew it was going to be bad," said Blanco. He later turned to his shipmates and began telling them to call 911.

"We heard the crash," said Blanco. "We pulled over, got out, ran, and jumped over the median to get to the other lane."

Keosibounheuang called 911 and all four proceeded to render assistance. They advised the Batancans to stay still as they waited for the emergency responders to arrive.

Stanisz performed CPR in attempt to resuscitate the passenger of Geo Metro. The passenger was later pronounced dead.

Camantigue said the difficult part of the situation was helping to divert traffic.

"I was waving, trying to get the attention of the other cars coming in our direction," said Camantigue. "If other cars rear-ended the two cars it would have crushed the people even more."

"The other car [Geo Metro] had no front end," said Blanco. "It was gone."

Batacan said if he had driven his other car, a Honda Civic, he and his wife would have been dead because the impact would have destroyed the car. He also said he owes their lives to the Sailors who came to assist them.

"I am very grateful to you guys, thank you," said Batacan to the four Sailors. "I really appreciate it from the deepest part of my heart."

The four Sailors visited the Batacans at their residence March 19, to find out how they were doing. Felimo told the Sailors he was recovering and he hopes his wife would be back home the following day, March 20.

Blanco said he was the designated driver that morning. He said he tells his Sailors to have a plan whenever they decide to go out and drink.

"I've seen a lot of stuff in my life but this experience was very eerie for me because I lost my brother to the very same thing," said Blanco. "I lost my younger brother to a drunk driver two years ago. He was driving on the wrong side of the road. My brother didn't make it. He didn't walk out but the drunk driver did."

"Make sure you prepare for the conditions that are out there," he said. "Be aware of your surroundings. Be prepared when you're going out. Be prepared for those drunk drivers that are out there. If you see someone stumbling take their keys. I wish someone did that for my brother or he would be here today."

Batacan thanked the four Sailors again.

"God Bless you," he said. "Thank you very much."