Friday, March 23, 2012

Corpsmen Detailers Visit US Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay

By Stacey Byington, U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Detailers from the hospital corpsmen community and a member of the placement team visited U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay (USNH GTMO), March 20-21.

The visit offered detailers a better sense of the requirements of the command, and provided Sailors an opportunity to talk to their detailers face-to-face.

Leading the team was Master Chief Hospital Corspman (SW/AW/FMF) Lucas Van Emelen, lead detailer for Navy corpsmen. He was accompanied by Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/FMF) Vincent Soto, the HM "A" and "C" schools detailer, and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF/SW) John Kitchen, a member of the enlisted placement team.

"Our detailer visit was a huge success," said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Betty Watson, USNH GTMO command master shief. "To have them come here and actually experience GTMO helps them understand issues and requirements here as they attempt to fill our billets."

Watson said that the hospital's corpsmen learned about different billets available to them and the process for selecting people for those billets.

"Our Sailors know they matter, and most of those who needed orders received them," added Watson.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Latoya Hooper works in the hospital's pharmacy and said her interaction with the detailers was very beneficial.

"My visit with the detailer was great," said Hooper. "I was very impressed by Chief Soto, and the level of knowledge he possessed with regards to the submission
of my IDC School (Independent Duty Corpsman) request package. I was pointed in the right direction very quickly, and by the time my session was over, I knew exactly what I needed to do."

The visitors from Milington said they were impressed with the quality of GTMO corpsmen and the professionalism everyone displayed.

"We are working diligently to understand the needs here," said Van Emelen. "It has been an eye-opening experience. It's a beautiful place."

One of the issues currently challenging the command is the fact that Fed/Fire does not currently operate ambulance services for the community. Corpsmen who work in the hospital's emergency room need to be certified emergency medical technicians (EMT), and must qualify to drive the hospital's ambulances.

"We do it all," said Capt. Barth Merrill, USNH GTMO executive officer. "GMTO is one of those places where junior corpsmen can get training in areas that they might not get in other assignments."

A good percentage of the command's enlisted Sailors are junior corpsmen on their first assignment out of "A" school. In addition, many corpsmen who come to Guantanamo Bay are single or arrive unaccompanied without their families, which means shorter tour lengths thus, staff turnover is a challenge.

In a brief to hospital leadership, the detailers said that public perception of GTMO tends to influence Sailors who might otherwise consider orders to the hospital.

"One of the things we need to do is change the mindset of how Guantanamo Bay is perceived," said Soto. "When I mention GTMO to corpsmen, they tend to react negatively. We need to change that image."

What many corpsmen and other enlisted personnel who could get orders to GTMO do not realize is that there is much more to the base.

The base has almost 6,000 residents, and hospital personnel interact with almost all of them. The detention center is several miles away from where most people live and work on the base. During off-duty hours most people fish, kayak, scuba dive, and snorkel. There is also a DoDDS school system for kindergarten through 12th grades.

"GTMO is a great place to come for those with families," said Merrill. "If corpsmen want leadership and education opportunities, then they should consider orders to GTMO."

Corpsmen play an essential role in the fleet's health and wellness. That readiness is an area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department.

For more news from U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo Bay, visit

Toolkit Helps Treat Patients with Co-occurring Conditions

By Corina Notyce, DCoE Strategic Communications

Treating patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be challenging because TBI symptoms can sometimes resemble a number of psychological health conditions. Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) developed Co-occurring Conditions Toolkit: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health to provide guidance on the assessment and management of patients with the co-occurring conditions of concussion, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, depression and substance use disorder.

The tool kit is a user-friendly, comprehensive clinical guidance tool for primary care providers, featuring evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and recommendations from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. It provides tips for an effective first appointment; guidance on clinical assessment; treatment recommendations; medication information; and patient education websites.

In January, we wrote about a free mobile application where you can access the tool kit from your iPhone, iPad or Android device. National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2), a DCoE center, developed the Co-occurring Conditions Toolkit mobile app to give providers immediate access to critical and up-to-date information. Providers can use the app to identify appropriate interventions and timing of services to more effectively meet the needs and improve outcomes for patients who sustained a brain injury. Additional benefits of the app include increased use of evidence-based treatment recommendations, enhanced provider-patient interactions and more appropriate specialty referrals.

Visit the T2 website to see more military mobile apps.

Additionally, DCoE partnered with the U.S. Army to develop the Co-occurring Conditions Toolkit training video to provide an overview and offer instructions on how to apply the tool kit to clinical practice. The video is intended to be an on-the-job training reference and includes characteristics and descriptions of psychological health conditions; step-by-step instructions on using the tool kit; and real patient scenarios.

To order DVDs, or for hard copies of the tool kit, contact Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center by email or call 800-870-9244.

Fire Departments, Firefighter Selected Best in Region

By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services comprised of the Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) and Naval Station (NS) Mayport fire departments was selected the 2011 Commander, Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) Fire Department of the Year (Large Category) March 20.

This is the third consecutive year the unit has been recognized for this award. These departments will represent the region in the upcoming Commander, Navy Installations Command competition.

"Bravo Zulu to these fire and emergency services professionals and all the programs they represent," said CNRSE Rear Adm. Jack Scorby Jr. in a message announcing the winners. "I wish them all the very best of luck as they move forward to the CNIC-wide competition. Great job and many thanks to all of our fire and emergency professionals for all that you do to keep our Sailors, Marines, civilians and families safe."

During 2011, base firefighters/paramedics answered 647 structural, 446 aircraft, 46 hazardous material (hazmat), 1,723 emergency medical service and 47 community calls for help. They also provided triage, treatment and transport to numerous visitors during the NAS Jax Air Show.

The team provides service not only to the two naval bases, but also to the Pinecastle Range Complex, Outlying Field Whitehouse and Yellow Water Housing Area.

They also established several memorandums of understanding with local counties to provide mutual aid response to support local communities; hosted specialized hazmat and technical rescue teams for training events; provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation/automated external defibrillator training for base security and Navy Exchange personnel; developed new training initiatives for firefighters; mandated fire officer certification; assisted homeported ships at NS Mayport with annual fire hose testing and deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to service test and certify their self-contained breathing apparatus systems.

Firefighters at both stations have also spent many off-duty hours training to increase their proficiencies in emergency situations. Some of this certified training includes advanced life support, hazmat, rappelling, damage control and evacuation on the ships and using the mobile aircraft live fire trainer.

The team has also spent numerous hours renovating their stations saving the Navy $200,000 through self-help projects.

"We have 127 members on our team and they truly are the 'best of the best,'" said Mark Brusoe, acting fire chief. "At our stations everyone has a never say 'no' attitude and we are always out there ready to serve the public. Nothing is too big or small to take on. They make my job easy. You send them in the right direction, give them some guidance and the job gets done.

"We also have a superb fire prevention program at NAS Jax and NS Mayport. They do an outstanding job educating the public on fire safety through lectures and demonstrations and are responsible for inspecting all the buildings for fire hazards."

NAS Jax Firefighter/Paramedic Tracy Tomes has also been chosen as the 2011 CNRSE Firefighter of the Year.

"This is awesome being selected for both these awards," said Tomes, who has been with the NAS Jax Fire Department for the past 11 years. "We strive to provide the public with the best service possible whether we are responding to a call or someone comes into our station for a tour or a blood pressure check. We are here to protect the military members, civilians and their families.

"During my time here, I've seen many changes within our station that enable us to provide the highest quality of service to our customers. One of the biggest is that we've established an advanced life support system and have provided training to base personnel. This new system greatly enhances our ability to save lives. We also have state-of-the-art upgrades on our fire trucks, new technologies, including a better dispatch system and new capabilities to advise our citizens of upcoming emergencies."

Tomes was cited for personally saving the lives of two individuals including a 23-month-old infant; rescuing a victim in a multi-vehicle accident; coordinating the emergency medical services (EMS) operations for a simulated train derailment joint exercise with the City of Jacksonville; researching and developing a comprehensive advanced emergency medical training program for his co-workers; designed and constructed a new EMS office at NAS Jax and maintains accountability and purchases of all EMS equipment.

"I am proud that I will be representing my team in the CNIC competition. I'd really like to thank Fire Chief Brusoe for submitting me for this award, NAS Jax Commanding Office Capt. Bob Sanders for supporting me, base legal department for providing guidance and our team here for all they do each and every day," said Tomes. "And, I'd especially like to thank my family for all their support while I'm working."

"Many people don't realize that we usually work 72 hours a week here. We cook together, eat together and argue together - we are a family here," Brusoe added. "We do this because we love what we do and are here to serve those who need us."

Brusoe and Tomes will represent First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services at the Fire Rescue International conference in Denver Aug. 1-4 where the CNIC winners will be announced.

First responders play an essential role in fleet readiness, an area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department.

USS Constitution Departs for Phoenix Navy Week

From USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution will participate in Phoenix Navy Week in Phoenix, March 26-30.

Sailors will kick off their participation by serving as the color guard detail for the Korean War Veteran's Memorial at Wesley Bolin Plaza where Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Command, is scheduled to speak.

"Navy Weeks are a great opportunity to share Constitution and the Navy with cities that may not know much about who we are and what we do," said Cmdr. Matthew Bonner, Constitution's 72nd commanding officer. "This year is especially important with the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812 and explaining the Navy's role in that conflict and our missions today."

Sailors are also scheduled to teach early U.S. naval history and interact with more than 500 students at Centennial Middle School, Pueblo Middle School, Sonoran Middle School and the South Mountain Community Library.

Additionally, they will visit East Valley, Ariz. and Scottsdale, Ariz. Boys and Girls Clubs to provide mentorship and share their professional experiences with youth there.

"Our nation's freedom and spirit was built on the foundation of great Americans, like the Sailors who served on board USS Constitution," said Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class Scott Bartlett, Constitution's command historian. "I'm extremely excited to share these Sailor's stories to the youth of Phoenix."

This is the first of eight Navy Weeks Constitution Sailors are scheduled to participate in throughout 2012, celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

The primary purpose of Navy Week is to increase Navy awareness by presenting the Navy to Americans who live in cities that normally do not have a significant naval presence. Phoenix Navy Week will showcase the mission, capabilities and achievements of the U.S. Navy and provide residents the opportunity to meet Sailors firsthand.

Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year. She defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. America's Navy: Keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history. For more information, visit or

Family Matters Blog: Military Families Can Take Steps to Prevent Lost or Stolen Pets

By Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2012 – A missing pet can be a devastating experience for family members and can result in a dangerous situation for the animal. However, military families can take steps to keep their beloved pets safe and secure.

If your pet lives indoors or is supervised outdoors, it’s less likely the pet will become lost or stolen. Many animals crave human companionship and do quite well lounging on a comfortable couch or bed during the day.

However, if you can’t take your pet out for exercise, make sure they play in a safe, secure and enclosed area with necessary shelter, water and food. You also should avoid the use of chains or ropes for long periods of time. U.S. Humane Society studies indicate that animals become territorial and aggressive when tied up on chains for a prolonged time. Animals are more likely to bite another human or could unintentionally hang themselves if tethered too close to a fence.

If a pet becomes lost, a microchip can help reunite pet and owner. This is a tiny computer chip, about the size of a grain of rice, inserted into the skin of the animal with an identification number programmed into it. A national registry tracks the number, and any organization with a scanner can identify the number and contact the company owning the device. The company then will contact the pet owner or another emergency contact. Since registration tags are easily removable, the microchip provides an additional layer of protection.

Microchips can be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit -- no surgery or anesthesia required -- in animals as young as eight weeks, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Because of this critical method of pet identification, animals have been found more than 1,000 miles from their home or after years of separation.

In 2009, the Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Indoor Pet Initiative conducted a study of 53 shelters with recorded information on animals entering a shelter with a microchip. The findings revealed that 73 percent of owners of stray dogs and cats were found, and 74 percent of the owners wanted their animals back. The top reason owners couldn’t be located was incorrect or disconnected phone numbers, followed by the owner’s failure to return phone calls or respond to letters.

Along with microchips, owners also should legally register their pet since it’s the primary way shelters track pet ownership.

“One of our most important goals is to get lost pets home, which reduces impact on the shelter in devoting resources to tracking owners,” said Matt Malta, director of adoptions for the Hawaiian Humane Society. “Licensing is considered legal proof of ownership, and pet owners should consider compliance that will help establish their animals as rightfully theirs.”

According to Malta, less than 20 percent of Oahu dog owners are in compliance with assuring that their dog is always wearing a valid, county-issued license. Many companion animals end up at shelters as strays and can’t be reunited with owners due to missing registration and microchip information. In fact, less than 2 percent of cats and only 15 to 20 percent of dogs are returned to their owners, according to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy.

Many shelters offer discounted services for microchips and ensure their animals are adopted out with microchips.

Check your military base or housing installation for the companion animal policies, as housing pet policies stipulate microchips and registration or animal licensing requirements. When moving to a new duty station or when considering getting a pet, it’s critical potential owners research local animal laws and housing animal policies if living on base to ensure compliance.

Should the pet accidentally get loose on a military installation, immediately call base police, base animal control, if applicable, and your community’s official lost and found center for companion animals.

If the neighborhood permits it, post signs and check online pet classifieds for found pet postings and consider placing a lost pet posting to alert other members in your neighborhood.

We all can help to raise awareness of this issue by talking to our neighbors about pet resources and providing help when needed. These steps can protect our pets and enhance the human-animal bond among pet owners.

(Guest blogger Navy Lt. Theresa Donnelly, of U.S. Pacific Command, is the owner of Hawaii Military Pets, which provides pet resources for military families. She’s offered to share her pet-related knowledge in a series of blogs for Family Matters.)