Tuesday, May 22, 2012

DOD Selects Finalists for Freedom Award

From an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve News Release

ARLINGTON, Va., May 22, 2012 – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense agency, announced 30 employers as finalists for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award today.

The Freedom Award is the DOD’s highest recognition given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees. A review board comprised of military and civilian leaders selected the 30 employers from the 3,236 nominations received earlier this year from Guard and Reserve service members, or family members acting on their behalf.

“The 2012 Freedom Award finalists demonstrate that outstanding support of Guard and Reserve members is not limited by an employer’s size, industry or region of the nation.” ESGR National Chair James G. Rebholz said. “These 30 finalists span the diversity of America’s workforce and prove every employer can go above and beyond for our Citizen Warriors.”

The finalists for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award are:

-- Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck, N.D.;
-- Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill.;
-- Centerline Mechanical LLC, Cave Creek, Ariz.;
-- Citi, New York, N.Y.;
-- City of Edina Police Department, Edina, Minn.;
-- Cranston Public Schools, Cranston, R.I.;
-- Crystal Springs United Methodist Church, Crystal Springs, Miss.;
-- Delta Air Lines, Atlanta;
-- Don Gorman Electric LLC, Santa Fe, N.M.;
-- Gary Jet Center, Gary, Ind.;
-- Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky.;
-- Intel Corporation, Santa Clara, Calif.;
-- iostudio, Nashville, Tenn.;
-- Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, Bismarck, N.D.;
-- Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo, Mich.;
-- Kent County Levy Court, Dover, Del.;
-- L-3 Communications, New York, N.Y.;
-- Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles;
-- LPI Printing and Graphics Inc., Stoneham, Mass.;
-- Nationwide Insurance, Columbus, Ohio;
-- Newberry County Sheriff's Office, Newberry, S.C.;
-- Nyemaster Goode, Des Moines, Iowa;
-- Port of Seattle, Seattle, Wash.;
-- Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M.;
-- Siemens Corporation, Washington, D.C.;
-- Smith Anderson Blount Dorsett Mitchell & Jernigan LLC, Raleigh, N.C.;
-- Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, Tenn.;
-- Town of Camden Police Department, Camden, Maine;
-- Uniform Color Company, Holland, Mich.; and
-- Verizon Wireless, Basking Ridge, N.J.

Only 160 employers have received the Freedom Award since it was established in 1996. Employers named as finalists for the award distinguish themselves not only for adhering to the employment and reemployment rights of Guard and Reserve members, but for actively creating opportunities to assist and support the service of both Guard and Reserve employees and their families.

The 2012 finalists’ support initiatives include establishing a military relations council to internally advocate for Guard and Reserve employees, adjusting work schedules to accommodate military training days, and even driving the pregnant spouse of a deployed service member to the hospital when she went into labor and setting up a computer connection so the service member could see his newborn child.

DOD will announce the 15 recipients of the 2012 Freedom Award early this summer following completion of a national selection board comprised of senior DOD officials, business leaders and prior awardees. The 2012 recipients will be honored with the 17th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in Washington, D.C., in September. Past recipients of the Freedom Award have met privately with the President and Vice President of the United States, and the Secretary of Defense.

The Freedom Award was instituted under the auspices of ESGR to recognize exceptional support from the employer community. Established as a DOD agency 40 years ago, ESGR develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers.

Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

Face of Defense: Retired Airman Excels as TV Weatherman

By Scott King
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., May 22, 2012 – Washington state-based meteorologist Dave Law, a retired Air Force master sergeant, said he owes a great deal of his success as a television weatherman to his 23 years of military service.

Law can be seen delivering live weather forecasts most weekends and periodically throughout the week on NBC affiliate KHQ 6 News in Spokane.

"My four years as the chief of weather operations at Fairchild [Air Force Base] was the grand finale of my extraordinary Air Force career," Law said. "It's simply been an amazing journey, especially when I look back to basic training where it all began."

Law said he joined the Air Force in 1982 without a guaranteed military occupational specialty. Just days before basic training graduation, Law was told by his training instructor that he was going to become a weatherman.

Law said his passion and respect for weather grew quickly.

"I started in an era when weather practices were pretty much akin to those of the 40's and 50's, consisting of teletypes, manual plotting and free-hand analysis," Law said. "But, technology changed all that, and it was really exciting to be on the cutting edge of it all with computers, satellites and radar all coming into play."

Law retired from the Air Force here in 2005, and turned his sights toward KHQ 6 News after meeting with George Maupin, another KHQ 6 on-air personality. Maupin suggested Law apply based on his lengthy Air Force service, his outgoing personality and the fact that he did a lot of public speaking.

"When he [Maupin] suggested I apply, I thought, 'Why not?' With a ton of forecasting experience and after years spent briefing weather to aircrews and command staff, I figured I might have the stuff it takes to be on TV," Law said. "The technical training, college and public speaking experience the Air Force provided me was the foundation that boosted my confidence in this endeavor. I honestly believe the Air Force was a major force-shaping tool in the profession I am in today."

As expected, being on live TV could prove to be nerve-wracking for anyone, and Law was no different.

"I'll never forget my first demo taping with anchor Shelly Monahan," he said. "We were at the news desk reading the news and doing a weather forecast, when she leaned over and said, 'You need some makeup,' grabbed a paper towel and proceeded to wipe the sweat off my face. You betcha' I was nervous, but I was hired."

Law recalled some of his Air Force memories, such as “issuing a tornado watch during an air show, playing beach volleyball with the Navy SEALs in Kuwait, and flying back to base in a 'Kiowa' helicopter to shower after days in a concealed foxhole.”

“I do miss those days," he said.

Law said there's another benefit to his civilian weather-forecasting job.

"When I'm not doing weather, I'm probably out fishing -- and most folks know I love to go fishing,” he said. “Now, KHQ has also tapped into that passion by allowing me to do weekly fishing reports from our local lakes and rivers throughout the fishing season. How cool is that? Getting paid to fish -- life is good."

Thirty years after entering the Air Force and the world of weather, Law is still pursing is passion.

"And I owe a great deal of my success to the Air Force -- it paved the way for me,” he said.

Bush Library and Museum a Blue Star Museum

Free Admission for Active-Duty Military at Bush Library and Museum

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University is proud to announce our participation as part of Blue Star Museums, a program offering free admission to all active-duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2012.

The free admission program is available to active-duty military and their family members (military ID holder and up to five family members). Active-duty military include Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and active-duty National Guard and active-duty Reserve members.

“The Bush Library and Museum considers it a privilege to offer free admission to our active-duty military and their family members in recognition of their service and sacrifice to our country,” said Warren Finch, Bush Library and Museum director.

While the Blue Star Museums program is strictly between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Bush Library and Museum offers free admission to active-duty service members and their families year round. For more information go to bushlibrary.tamu.edu/military.

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,500 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 28, 2012 through Labor Day, Sept. 3, 2012. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly. To find out which museums are participating, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. The site includes a list of participating museums and a map to help with visit planning.

Red Arrow Brigade completes Warfighter exercise

By 1st Sgt. Vaughn R. Larson
Wisconsin National Guard

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team last saw significant infantry combat nearly 70 years ago. To maintain those fearsome battlefield skills that earned the Red Arrow its reputation requires practice - but it's difficult to come by large-as-life training scenarios. Homeland security missions as well as deployments conducting missions such as base security, convoy escort and detainee operations have also taken their share of training opportunities that might otherwise go to large-scale infantry operations.

The 32nd Brigade's Warfighter exercise, conducted May 7-16 at Fort McCoy, Wis., provided a virtual battlefield with realistic demands designed to hone battle management skills and point the Red Arrow in the right direction.

"This is something we used to do quite a bit back before 2001," said Lt. Col. Michael George, 32nd Brigade executive officer. "By and large, the young enlisted and junior officers have not been on staff as long as some of us older guys, so they have never been through one of these exercises. Then when you add in the complexity of all of our digital systems, that adds another component or dimension. When you look at what we've accomplished these past 10 days, I think it's extraordinary."

The Fort Leavenworth, Kan.-based Mission Command Training Program has put units ranging from brigades up through corps through the virtual wringer since the 1980s to teach commanders and their staffs how to manage offensive and defensive operations.

"We came here to meet some training objectives," said Col. Thomas Christensen, commander of Operations Group Bravo which ran the exercise, "and I think we did that. We've seen some great improvement throughout the exercise."

One of the first casualties in the exercise was the flow of information. As the Warfighter continued, staff members and subordinate units improved how they communicated vital information to paint the most accurate picture possible of the battlefield.

"What gives us agility? Our ability to know our situation," Christensen said. "Commanders, we have agility because we understand what is happening and we can adjust off the plan … there's always something else we need to be looking at and tracking."

"That's really hard work [when] the guys you get data from are fully engaged," said Col. Martin Seifer, 32nd IBCT commander.

Maj. Gen. David Elicerio, commander of the Minnesota Army National Guard's 34th Infantry Division, served as the commander of the exercise's notional 52nd Infantry Division during the latter days of the exercise. He lauded the 32nd Brigade as a learning organization.

"There was nobody in this organization who said, 'We're as good as we can get,'" Elicerio observed. "The trick is, how do we get to where we need to be? Look and see what you can inculcate into your culture - that's when you're winning on this thing."

Randy Anderson, a retired brigadier general who served as a senior mentor for the exercise, agreed.

"If anybody feels bad about their performance, don't - I think you learned a lot," Anderson said. "You will never learn a lesson until you burn your fingers … We weren't expecting perfection - we were expecting improvement."

Anderson said that many of the skills called for in Warfighter exercises have atrophied over the past 10 years. 32nd Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde acknowledged that the learning curve was steep.

"I think you guys came to the fight and you had a hard task," Conde said. "I think we learned a lot. We grew a lot in the last four days."

Conde challenged the brigade to consider how to achieve a "return on investment" from the exercise within the constraints of a limited training calendar.

George said the Warfighter succeeded in revealing what the 32nd is good at and where it can improve.

"The exercise really gave us a look at how we go from here into the future - how we set up and operate these digital systems, how we organize as a brigade headquarters, how we conduct planning," George said. "The exercise was useful in showing us the big picture."

Seifer noted that the operation order developed for the exercise contained specific training objectives, but winning the battle was not one of them.

"As I look through there, we did every one of [the training objectives] well, some better than others, and some we did really well," Seifer said. "We took huge steps in the last 10 days."

Christensen applauded the Red Arrow.

"It was great to work with you guys here," he said. "This is a great organization - the 32nd is motivated, ready to learn, ready to get better."