Monday, April 09, 2012

This Day in Naval History - April 09

From Navy News Service

1861 - Second relief convoy for Fort Sumter left New York.
1941 - Commissioning of USS North Carolina (BB 55), which carried nine 16-inch guns.
1943 - Re-establishment of Commodore rank.
1959 - Selection of first seven Mercury astronauts, include four naval aviators.

Mrs. Obama: Nation Must ‘Step up Forever’ for Military Families

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2012 – As First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden mark the first anniversary of their “Joining Forces” campaign this week, the two say they will continue to solidify its successes so a structured effort to help military families is a permanent part of American culture.

The pair reflected on the campaign’s success during an April 6 interview here with American Forces Press Service.

“This has been a phenomenal first year,” Obama said. “But the truth is, Jill and I have been working this issue since our husbands took the oath of office” in January 2009.

Obama and Biden, wife of vice president Joe Biden, said they’ve been amazed by the outpouring of support by American civilians. More than 100 companies have committed to participate in the administration’s goal of the private sector hiring of 100,000 spouses and veterans. They also noted a Joining Forces commitment from the nation’s medical colleges to better train civilian health-care providers in caring for war veterans and their families.

“We’ve seen Americans -- 13 million of them -- step up to pledge hours of service,” Obama said. “It’s been phenomenal to see a grateful nation step up to help military men and women who sacrifice so much for us.”

Biden, a community college professor, said she’s been gratified by progress in the education arena. Teachers colleges have incorporated military family matters into curricula to help teachers-to-be understand the unique challenges their students from military families face, she said. And more and more school systems recognize course credits of military family members who must relocate frequently, she added.

Teachers are doing small things that make a big difference, Biden said. Some conduct parent-teacher conferences with deployed parents on the Internet. Others -- as the teacher of Biden’s granddaughter did when the Bidens’ son, Beau, was deployed to Iraq -- display photos of deployed parents to help children cope.

Obama and Biden said they have felt privileged to meet with military families across the nation.

“Every American should have the privilege of getting to know a military community, a family, a unit, because these men and women are the best this country has,” the first lady said. “I’m always in awe of what they are able to manage, what they sacrifice, and doing it with such grace and poise. It’s been a gift to shine light on these military men and women.”

Biden also spoke of the resilience of military family members.

“They face a lot of difficulties and challenges in their lives,” she said, noting that most military members relocate at least 10 times in their career. “That’s tough on a family -- to pack up, lose friends, make new friends, get new sports teams -- but they never complain. They just feel it’s part of their job.”

Obama said she expects the campaign’s second year will continue progress in those areas and more. A major goal, she said, will be to build on successes in professional license portability for military spouses. Thirteen states already have passed legislation to make it easier for military spouses who work in fields such as teaching, nursing, real estate, and social work to transfer their professional licenses easily from one state to another, and 13 more have pending legislation, she said.

The outpouring of support for the Joining Forces campaign has proven that Americans want to help military families and need the structure the campaign provides, Biden said.

“Americans want to help. All they need is a little direction,” she said. “They’re saying, ‘OK, give us ideas.’”

Obama said she expects the campaign to endure indefinitely.

“Our husbands, and Jill and I, we’re committed to making sure this becomes part of our culture,” she said. “I know the president and the vice president are working with the [Defense and Veterans Affairs departments] to set up a structure to ensure this continues, regardless of who’s in office.

“These are lifelong commitments,” she added. “As a Blue Star mom, Jill is always in, and I consider myself an honorary Blue Star mom. … This is a forever issue for us.”

The important thing for civilians to understand, Obama said, is that these issues don’t end when wars end. “That’s when the hard work begins for many of these families,” she said. “When someone is on active duty, they’re still transferring. Their kids are still going from school to school to school.”

The first lady noted that 1 percent of Americans serve in the all-volunteer force to protect everyone else. “So, we have to step up forever,” she said. “I think our country is ready to do that. It just helps to have a structure like Joining Forces.”

Leap Frogs Participate in Phillies Home Opener

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Luke Eastman, U.S. Navy Parachute Team Public Affairs

PHILADELPHIA (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, presented the first pitch baseballs during the pre-game ceremony of the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies home-opener game at Citizens Bank Park, April 9.

The Leap Frogs were schedule to jump into the stadium from a C-130 Hercules aircraft flown by members of the 139th Airlift Wing from Missouri Air National Guard, but were unable to perform due to unsafe weather conditions.

The crew did perform a flyover for the more than 45,000 people in attendance immediately following the national anthem.

"It was a great event," said Joseph Pinkerton, a spectator at the game. "When the C-130 flew over after the national anthem, it was just perfect timing."

Service members from every military branch displayed an American flag that covered half the field during the national anthem. The crowd clapped and cheered and fireworks went off as the C-130 flew over the stadium.

Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Hareso, 11th Fighter Wing of Pennsylvania Air National Guard, was in charge of the flag detail during the ceremony.

"The most impressive part of this is that it's multi-service," said Hareso. "We have Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. There's about 140 people presenting the flag, then we all get to celebrate and watch the Phillies play."

The Leap Frogs and the aircrew also made an appearance on top of the Phillies dugout for a brief introduction during the seventh-inning stretch.

"This is an annual event for the Leap Frogs and even though we weren't able to jump today, we're always happy to be here and support the Phillies," said Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Brad Woodard, the Leap Frogs' team chief. "We're here in support of Naval Special Warfare, and the people in Philadelphia always give us such a warm welcome."

The performance at Citizens Bank Park is one of 35 major events on the Leap Frogs' schedule this year. The team is based in San Diego and performs aerial parachute demonstrations across America in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy recruiting.


First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, discuss the accomplishments of the Joining Forces campaign as its one-year anniversary approaches at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House in Washington, D.C., April 6, 2012. The First Lady and Dr. Biden launched the campaign to rally national support from all sectors of society to honor and support service members, veterans and their families.

NICoE Connects Military and Civilian TBI Care

By Dr. James P. Kelly, National Intrepid Center of Excellence director

Throughout February and March, I presented signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), in three “Train the Trainer” workshops in Los Angeles, Denver and Dallas, hosted by Area Health Education Centers (AHEC).

I was excited to be a part of this wide-reaching effort to bridge the gap between civilian and military TBI care, because advancing TBI care starts with increasing awareness across both systems.

Military and civilian providers see common TBI-related symptoms: constant headaches; sleep problems; blurred vision; eye-movement abnormalities; and co-occurring conditions, such as post-traumatic stress. Those of us in military medicine collaborate with civilian providers to better understand brain injury and how military individuals may exhibit symptoms differently.

Brain injury is often misunderstood; these workshops gave me the opportunity to demystify mild TBI and its signs and symptoms to participants. Attending health care professionals were eager to enhance their knowledge of TBI, and at the end of my session, I was pleased to hear “we get it!” from the audience.

At National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), part of our mission is to help our heroes recover, which makes us ideal trainers as standards of care evolve. When a service member comes to the center, he or she receives a thorough evaluation and a personalized treatment plan. We offer unique treatment programs, including art, recreation and music therapies to address the complex interactions of mild traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions. NICoE uses computer-assisted rehabilitation and virtual environments to improve vision, reaction time, gait and multitasking ability. We also support individuals in their ongoing road to recovery after they leave NICoE.

Military and civilian providers, families, service members and veterans can go to, and Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) 24/7 for information, support and ideas. DVBIC also offers guides and tip sheets for providers and those affected by TBI. I encourage you to review these resources, learn about TBI and become part of the conversation to improve care worldwide.

Stay connected with NICoE on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.

The “Train the Trainer” initiative was created through a contract with Department of Health and Human Services and National AHEC Organization to broadly disseminate a program developed by North Carolina AHEC and Citizen Soldier Support Program, a Defense Department-funded program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.