Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Service Women's Action Network to Host Historic Summit on Military Sexual Assault for Veteran Survivors

Over 100 Survivors to Convene in D.C. to Share Their Stories with Congress, Policy Experts, and the Public; Expert Panelists to Discuss Military Law

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, May 8, Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) will hold the first-ever gathering of Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine veteran sexual assault survivors in the nation’s capital for “Truth and Justice: The 2012 Summit on Military Sexual Violence.”

The Summit, held at the Washington Court Hotel, will provide survivors and their families the opportunity to share personal experiences with military sexual violence with Congress members and fellow service members.

WHO: Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) will host over 100 veteran and active duty military sexual assault survivors and their families.

WHAT: "Truth and Justice: The 2012 Summit on Military Sexual Violence" will provide momentum to drive tactics for reform of Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs policies as well as provide opportunities for oversight and action by elected officials.

WHERE: Washington Court Hotel, Grand Ballroom (Lower Level), 525 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20001

WHEN: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 (press check-in opens at 8 a.m.; 45-foot throw)
8:00 – 8:30 a.m.:  Opening Remarks and Congressional Remarks with Representatives Sanchez (D-CA), Pingree (D-ME) and Braley (D-IA)
Open to press

8:30 – 9:45 a.m.: Veteran Panel
Open to press; no cameras or video allowed
Veteran survivors will share experiences and comment on resilience and reintegration.

9:55 – 11:30 a.m.: Policy Panel
Open to press
Legal and policy experts will discuss strategies for change and system reform.

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Awards Ceremony

Open to press
Mary Lauterbach, the mother of Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, who was 20 years old when she was murdered in 2007 by a fellow Marine accused of raping her only weeks before, will keynote the ceremony and present The Lauterbach Award for Truth and Justice. Award recipients, honored for their sustained commitment to the elimination of sexual violence in the military, include Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Representative Michael Turner (R-OH), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

** Media interested in attending "Truth and Justice: The 2012 Summit on Military Sexual Violence," please RSVP here. **

For more information on the Summit, visit www.truthandjusticesummit.org or contact Katy Otto at katy@servicewomen.org or 240-478-9387.


SWAN is a national civil rights organization founded and led by women veterans. SWAN’s vision is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform without threat of harassment, discrimination, intimidation or assault. SWAN also seeks to reform veterans' services on a national scale to guarantee equal access to quality health care, benefits and resources for women veterans and their families. You can follow Service Women’s Action Network on Twitter at http://twitter.com/servicewomen, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/servicewomen.

Honoring the Anzio Veterans

By Ensign Chris Collins, USS Mahan Public Affairs Office

NORFOLK (NNS) -- On board guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72), crew members welcomed the Anzio Beachhead Veterans and their families, April 26, commemorating the anniversary of the World War II storming of Anzio Beach in Italy 68 years ago.

On Jan. 22, 1944, the beaches of Anzio, Italy, were assaulted by 40,000 soldiers, over 5,000 vehicles, and more than 250 U.S. Navy vessels, leading into a battle that waged for almost five months.

"I served in the Army from 1941 to 1945 as a .50-caliber machine gunner, 32 months of those years were spent overseas," said Bryant Huffman. "My wife and I still travel to Italy every year, but we always avoid the Anzio area."

The ship hosted the 25 veterans and their families who visited Mahan, where they were given a tour of the missile decks and foc'sle, the 5-inch gun, and the main decks spaces such as Central Command Station, the Mess Decks, and Combat Information Center.
Retired Lt. Col. John Ray, who enlisted on July 5, 1942, spent his Anzio days as an enlisted soldier but received a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) commission following the war. He went on to spend 24 years in the Army, retiring before the Vietnam conflict began.

"I finally left in 1966 as a lieutenant colonel," said Ray, "but I was proud to be a grunt in the 34th Infantry, 2nd Division during the war."

Morris Snyder talked about his experiences during the war; he spent five campaigns fighting in Africa and Europe, where he was wounded on three separate occasions. His third wound resulted in his capture by the German Army. He spent 228 days in a POW camp where he served as the Barracks Chief and Medical Examiner, despite having no medical experience.

After returning home and being offered a commission, he resigned his duties in the military after just two and a half years of service. He then went on to a 40-year career in the steel industry. He was awarded three Silver Stars and most recently the French Legion of Honor, the highest award the French government can bestow.

Snyder is more proud of raising a family than the awards.

"I've got a bunch of shiny stuff they gave me," Snyder said.

The veterans spoke of their excitement being able to visit a warship and learn something new. Mahan Sailors spoke with the veterans, heard their stories, and said they were reminded of the many reasons they chose to fight for their country.

Mahan is currently home ported at Naval Station Norfolk. Last year, the ship completed a U.S. 6th Fleet deployment in support of maritime security and will deploy again in 2013.

SEALs, Sailors attend 2012 NFL Draft

By Lt. David Lloyd, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs

NEW YORK (NNS) -- Navy SEALs from multiple commands and Sailors from the Navy Recruiting Command attended the 77th annual National Football League Draft, April 26-28 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City as part of a community outreach program.

The event, officially called the "NFL Player Selection Meeting", is sponsored by the NFL, who invited Special Operators to attend and announce the third round draft pick.

"This is a unique opportunity, and it gives credibility to the Naval Special Warfare community as a force made up of athletic members of the military," said Capt. (SEAL) Duncan Smith, director, Naval Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate. "It gives the coaches, athletes and families an opportunity to meet and talk to some of the active duty SEALs here tonight that would have never otherwise had the chance."

SEALs and Sailors from around the Fleet are attending NFL-sponsored events to inform and educate these athletes about potential career opportunities in Navy special programs such as SEALs, Diver, EOD, and others.

Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Shawn Johnson, a 23-year veteran who participated in several of the previous NFL scout combines this year, made the live announcement on national television.

"With the 85th pick in NFL 2012 draft, the Detroit Lions select Dwight Bentley, Corner Back, of Louisiana Lafayette," announced Johnson.

The 2012 NFL Draft pick announcement demonstrates the strong, ongoing partnership the Navy, particularly the Naval Special Warfare community, has with professional organizations such as the National Football League.

"It was an honor and great opportunity to have had the chance to make the draft pick announcement," said Johnson. "This is one of those rare, once-in-a-life-time moments. All of these athletes possess many of the same qualities necessary to be successful as a Navy SEAL. They're obviously physically fit, but they're also mentally tough and self-disciplined."

The eight SEALs and Sailors from the Navy Recruiting Command marched on stage to an enthusiastic, standing ovation from the fans and guests in attendance at the Radio City Music Hall.

Members of the NFL organization were equally appreciative and offered the Sailors a personal tour of the NFL Headquarters during the three-day NFL Draft Pick.

"Having two sons currently attending the U.S. Naval Academy, I'm obviously a little biased, but this is very special for the NFL too, and were fortunate and excited to be able to have such professional and dedicated athletes as the SEALs here tonight," said Ron Hill, vice president of Football Operations for the National Football League.

Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: Becoming More Resilient

By Dr. James Bender, DCoE psychologist

Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

Resilient people tend to overcome difficult situations and experience less adverse effects. They’re also less likely to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, or mood or anxiety disorders. That’s why we continue to educate the military community about psychological resilience — healthy ways to adapt to stressful events.

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) hosted the fourth annual Warrior Resilience Conference last month, which focused on restoring readiness and enhancing resilience within the individual, unit, family and community. During the two-day event, I learned a lot about resilience in general and existing and emerging efforts to help both service members and families thrive when faced with tough situations. But I think the most important message about resilience is that it can be improved. Here are a few ways you can improve your resilience and reinforce psychological strength:

Acquire an active coping lifestyle. This means that you actively try to change a situation for the better, rather than waiting or just wishing it gets better. Even a small improvement will give a feeling of control that’s very helpful.
Develop and nurture social support and friendships. Make an effort to widen your social circle and strengthen relationships. We draw strength from others, so surround yourself with people you trust and can communicate with openly.
Take care of yourself. There’s a significant relationship between physical activity and resilience, so take care of both your body and mind. This is one more reason to get in shape.
Make a conscious effort to be more optimistic. Very few situations are completely hopeless, or have no positive aspects. So focus on a solution, rather than a problem. With practice, you can become more optimistic.
Use your religion and spirituality. People with strong faith in God, country and/or family tend to be more resilient.
Remember past successes. Recalling times when you overcame difficult situations will encourage optimistic thinking and hope for the future.
Learn to predict and control your environment. We know change is constant, so focusing on what we can control can greatly reduce stress.

Resilience is like physical or mental fitness: you can improve it with effort and practice — and the payoff is worth it. Check out the resiliency strategies of the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Army and National Guard, and visit DCoE and Real Warriors Campaign to learn more about resilience resources available for the military community.

For troops serving overseas and stateside, look out for yourself and for those you care about. Thank you for your service.