Military News

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Medical and Dental Readiness Critical for All


By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Operational Health Support Unit (OHSU) Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) provided important medical and dental screening requirements for Navy Reservists April 14-15.

The examinations are not only an annual responsibility to ensure all Navy Reserve personnel are fit for deployment, but the physical exams are potentially even more imperative due to the announced shift of manpower requirements for future individual augmentee (IA) responsibilities next year.

"Our goal is to achieve and maintain our medical and dental readiness to a level at least 95 percent of our total Navy Reservist force. We serve a fairly large region in Reserve Component Command Northwest, with NHB as the hub. NHB is right in the middle of a large Pacific Northwest regional concentration of submarine, surface and air assets. All of us on the Navy Medicine Team, including nurses, hospital corpsmen and medical/dental providers have to help ensure all of our Navy Reservist assets are up to date and ready to deploy if and when called upon," said Capt. Harry Ward, OHSU Bremerton senior medical executive, and physician specialist/professor of Medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Taking care of our own is what we do. As such, we simply have to have medically and dentally ready forces. Our Reserve detachments back up and support many of our local commands in this area, and we bring reservist medical providers in from all over the region. We want to reach out and touch everyone and not be constrained by geography in any way when asked to support. One of the latest messages from Adm. Nathan, our Navy surgeon general, said that to maintain our fighting forces, our Navy Reserves have to continue to be a critical part and continue to contribute a lot," said Ward, who has served in Navy Reserves for over 20 years, with three deployments. He has been in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan for 2006, as well as Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during 2009.

Ward's experience in Desert Storm further solidifies his emphasis on having medical and dental readiness up to date. According to Ward, during Desert Storm, nearly 40 percent of Navy Reservists were deemed not qualified for active duty due to dental issues with periodontal disease.

Capt. William Creed, OHSU Reserve liaison officer (RLO) and head dental officer, also remembers well Desert Storm, as well as before.

"Historically, all of our efforts before that time were lax. We were recalling Reservists who were not medically or dentally qualified. Now it's much different. My main job is to coordinate the dental readiness for the whole region with all the Navy Operational Support Centers (NOSC) and Reserve Commands (REDCOMs)," said Creed, a Vancouver, Wash. resident.

Cmdr. Tim Labrosse, RLO and Reserve dentist, estimates that he and his dental team monthly provide an average of 70 to 80 screenings to Reservists.

"I can average eight to ten dental examinations an hour. Every Sailor I see is an important asset for us. My goal when they come in for the screening is to assess them for deployment and make sure they won't have emergency dental needs, if and when they deploy. Nothing is more costly than sending a person in and out of an IA assignment for dental care. There's lost manpower hours, logistical expenditures, and travel costs. It all adds up. Before a Sailor departs from here, they will know what category they are concerning their dental readiness," said Labrosse.

There are four classifications for dental readiness. Class 1. Patients not requiring dental treatment or reevaluation within 12 months. Class 2. Patients who have oral conditions that, if not treated or followed up, have the potential but are not expected to result in dental emergencies within 12 months. Class 3. Patients who have oral conditions that if not treated are expected to result in dental emergencies within 12 months. Patients should be placed in Class 3 when there are questions in determining classification between Class 2 and Class 3. Class 4. Patients who require dental examinations. This includes patients who require annual or other required dental examinations and patients whose dental classifications are unknown.

"Dental readiness is just an example of waking up to the need for healthy fighting forces ready to be part of the 'edge of the sword.' As part of those forces, we want to continue to contribute and maintain continuity and leadership with the large amount of Navy Reservists in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the Western states," Ward said.

OHSU Bremerton is currently handling medical and dental readiness screenings for18 detachments with approximately 900 total personnel stationed in North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. There are Navy Reserve centers in such places as Sioux Falls S.D., Fargo, N.D., Fort Carson and Denver Colo., Cheyenne, Wyo., Billings and Helena, Mont., Pocatello, Idaho, Central Point, Ore. Tacoma, Bangor, and Everett, Wash. and Fort Richardson, Alaska. There are also corpsmen coming to NHB from farther afield out of Minnesota and Texas (Current compiled official Navy figures from April 2, 2012, list the total number of U.S. Navy Reserve component as 64,118).

One innovative means to handle medical and dental readiness in the vast, mostly rural area is by sending a traveling team of core Navy medical staff to specific Navy Operational Support Centers.

"Our training team is made up of physician/providers, nurse practitioners, and dental officers to go out and handle medical and dental needs all over the 15 state regional commands. Many of our Navy Reserve centers are scattered over large areas of geiography, so it's value added to do all we can to keep that readiness up to date by going to the detachments, rather than having their personnel come to us," said Ward.

"The work never stops. It can take a lot of time to arrange logistics throughout our region to support Navy Medicine West, even as far away as Okinawa and Guam," said Ward.

Another important part of OHSU's overall mission is to backup and assist NHB and BUMED by providing doctors, nurses, hospital corpsmen and technician support.

"Whoever and whatever the CNO or Surgeon General needs, we will put out a message for support and operationally start looking at whom we have available," Ward said.

"What we have now in Navy Medicine and the Navy, as a whole, is a truly integrated service. It used to be that reservists were just backfill for some positions, but we are now integrated across the board. Camaraderie has really greatly improved since the first Gulf War," Ward said.

Wisconsin Guard Soldier part of Best Ranger Competition


Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

A member of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry finished in the top 10 of 51 teams in the 2012 Best Ranger Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.

1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar was one of seven Army National Guard Soldiers to take part in the grueling 60-hour competition, which ended Sunday (April 15). The contest featured road marches of 15.5-miles and 14.8 miles, the Army's toughesto bstacle course known as the Darby Queen, urban operations, night land navigation, water confidence course, mortar range, rifle range with moving targets, jumping out of a helicopter and swimming to shore, and skill proficiency demonstrations.

Plocar qualified for the Best Ranger Competition last November, and prepared for the event since Jan. 30 at the National Guard's Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning. He and Capt. Robert Killian of the Colorado Army National Guard made up Team 49, which finished in sixth place.

"A hardy congratulation goes out to Lt. Plocar," said Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. "His accomplishment is reflective of the dedication and commitment that we see in all of the Soldiers in the Wisconsin Army National Guard - but obviously reflective of the dedication that Lt. Plocar has to not only be the best possible ranger, but also a Soldier in the National Guard."

Team 49 spent the entire competition among the leaders, which included Soldiers from active duty Ranger and Special Operations units.

"Back's a little stiff," Plocar said during a meal break on Day 2, when Team 49 was in third place. "No mistakes today - hopefully that will put us right where we want to be."

Of the 51 teams that began the competition at 6 a.m. April 13, only 34 made it past the first day to finish the event.

Col. John King, commander of the Ranger Training Brigade, said the competitors did not know the order or distances of the events.

"We've stacked the Day 1 as the hardest day in the three-day competition," he said. "They will move approximately 40-45 miles in the first day."

Another National Guard team finished in third place in this year's competition.

USS Constitution Sailors Teach Naval History in New Orleans


By Seaman Michael Achterling, USS Constitution Public Affairs

GRETNA, La. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS Constitution taught early American naval history to students at Bonnabel High School in Kenner, La., April 16.

Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Kelvin Wiggins, Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Conrad Hunt, Damage Controlman Fireman Ashley Fairfax, Seaman Stephen Beck, and Seaman Michael Achterling gave five historical presentations to more than 200 students as part of New Orleans Navy Week.

"It's important for the students to understand the history behind the military," said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Nowak, senior aerospace science instructor. Nowak is also the head of Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Bonnabel High School. "Having the Navy come to teach the students about naval history gives the students a different perspective, one they might not have considered."

Students learned about the creation of the Navy, Constitution's construction, her famous battle with HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, and the mission of today's Navy.

"It's a real honor to teach young adults about the founding of the U.S. Navy," said Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Kelvin Wiggins, Constitution's officer in charge of New Orleans Navy Week. "Hearing Constitution's history from Sailors who serve aboard her will hopefully be inspiring and educational for these high school students."

Constitution Sailors undergo 20 weeks of naval history training, along with additional weekly training.

"Bringing artifacts from Constitution's collection really gave the students a hands-on feel of history," said Seaman Stephen Beck. "As a Sailor, it's important to know about the history behind the organization you are serving, and relaying that information to students was a wonderful experience."

Constitution Sailors are also scheduled to give history presentations to Riverdale High School, April 18.

New Orleans is the second of eight Navy Weeks that Constitution Sailors will participate in 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. New Orleans 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.

Culinary Specialists Serve Up Health to the 21st Century Sailor


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Alexandra Snyder, Defense Media Activity Pentagon Bureau, Navy

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) culinary specialists (CSs) from around the fleet showcased a wide variety of healthy and delectable dishes during several cooking demonstrations at the 2012 Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Md. April 17.

"We're trying to achieve healthy meals for the Sailor of the 21st century," said Cmdr. Danny King, Naval Supply System Command Navy Food Service director. "We want to feed our Sailors healthy, nutritious food that's of a great quality, and that's what is being demonstrated [with these demos]."

"Today's CSs have greater culinary instruction than ever before," said Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and Chief of Supply Corps Rear Adm. Mark F. Heinrich. "With even more advanced training on the way, Sailors, both afloat and ashore, can look forward to even healthier and better-tasting meals in the near future."

Heinrich also emphasized "over-the-shoulder" training by senior CSs to junior CSs and the deployment more senior CSs to ships. "We're going to place a greater emphasis on over-the-shoulder training to maintain and increase culinary specialist skills, to maintain proficiency," Heinrich said. "Khaki leadership is key."

Chiefs oversaw and offered input to junior Sailors cooking meals such as peppercorn steak stir-fry and bacon-wrapped chicken with greens.

"It's a good time to be a CS in the Navy," said Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Nathan Jiggetts, senior instructor, Navy Food Management Team Norfolk. "We're now putting out healthier, cooked-from-scratch food to our Sailors, because healthy food means a healthy Navy. Not only that, but by creating homemade dishes, our CSs will be more equipped to be successful in their culinary careers when they leave the service."

Some of the initiatives being spearheaded by NAVSUP to help further facilitate this type of further career training include: benchmarking CSs against industry standards for culinary certification, revitalizing a hotel internship program in fleet concentration areas to pair CSs with top hotel chefs, as well as working to establish partnerships with culinary schools in fleet concentration areas. The command is also developing new recipe cards that provide step-by-step scratch cooking preparation instructions with graphic images detailing the steps of recipe production to decrease errors in food preparation and provide a better foundation for improving culinary training.

Other areas of emphasis include increasing the percentage of scratch food on carrier up to 40 percent and enabling greater fleet control and input with menu control.

"Nothing impacts Sailors on a day-to-day basis more than the food CSs prepare for them," Heinrich said. "CSs need to learn to prepare meals, not assemble them. We're embarking right now on a plan to see that our CSs can produce meals that match right up with the top chefs."

The Navy League's Sea-Air-Space Exposition is three days of seminars and demonstrations highlighting the latest maritime-related technologies and solutions. The symposium provides an excellent opportunity for Navy policy and operational leadership to interact with industry representatives to discuss and debate common interests and concerns.

Vietnam War Hero to Receive Posthumous Medal of Honor


Army News Service

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2012 – Army Spc. 4 Leslie H. Sabo Jr., a rifleman with the 101st Airborne Division during the Vietnam War, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor in a May 16 ceremony, White House officials announced yesterday.

Sabo is credited with saving the lives of several of his comrades in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, when his platoon was ambushed near the Se San River in eastern Cambodia on May 10, 1970. Sabo shielded a comrade from an enemy grenade and silenced a machine-gun bunker before he was killed.

Sabo's widow, Rose Mary Sabo-Brown, and his brother, George Sabo, have been invited to the White House for the ceremony. President Barack Obama recently telephoned Sabo-Brown to inform her that her late husband would receive the nation's highest award for valor.

"It was a very emotional day -- a very, very emotional day,” she said. I couldn't even sleep that night. And … when I did fall asleep finally and I woke up the next morning, I went, 'Now wait a minute, did I dream this? Is it really real?' I couldn't be more proud of him.

In her home near New Castle, Pa., Sabo-Brown has set up a museum of sorts in tribute to her late husband and his comrades who were killed in Cambodia.

When his platoon was ambushed from all sides by a large enemy force, Sabo charged the enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. He then assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat. While the platoon was securing a re-supply of ammunition, an enemy grenade landed nearby. Sabo picked it up, threw it, and shielded a wounded comrade with his own body -- absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving his comrade's life.

Although wounded by the grenade blast, Sabo continued to charge the enemy's bunker. After receiving several serious wounds from automatic weapons fire, he crawled toward the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Sabo's life.

Sabo's unit nominated him for the Medal of Honor, but the paperwork was lost until Tony Mabb, a Vietnam veteran of the 101st Airborne Division and a writer for the Screaming Eagle Association magazine, came across a thick file on Sabo while on a research trip to the National Archives military repository in College Park, Md.

Mabb contacted his congresswoman, who recommended that the Defense Department reconsider a medal of valor for Sabo. Mabb also made contact with Sabo's widow.

"The Leslie I know would give his life to anybody," she said. "He would. He would give you the shirt off his back. That's the kind of man he was."

(From a White House news release, with additional reporting by Elizabeth M. Collins of Soldiers magazine.)