Saturday, May 26, 2012

President Proclaims 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – In a proclamation issued today, President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember the courage and sacrifice of U.S. military members who served during the Vietnam War, and he declared May 28, 2012, through November 11, 2025, as the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

In his proclamation, Obama called upon federal, state, and local officials “to honor our Vietnam veterans, our fallen, our wounded, those unaccounted for, our former prisoners of war, their families, and all who served with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities” during the 13-year commemoration.

“As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor,” Obama said in his proclamation. “We pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved.

“From Ia Drang to Khe Sanh, from Hue to Saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans,” the president continued. “Through more than a decade of combat, over air, land, and sea, these proud Americans upheld the highest traditions of our armed forces.”

Today, grateful Americans “honor more than 58,000 patriots -- their names etched in black granite -- who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know,” Obama said. “We draw inspiration from the heroes who suffered unspeakably as prisoners of war, yet who returned home with their heads held high. We pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen. With more than 1,600 of our service members still among the missing, we pledge as a nation to do everything in our power to bring these patriots home.

“In the reflection of The Wall,” he continued, “we see the military family members and veterans who carry a pain that may never fade. May they find peace in knowing their loved ones endure, not only in medals and memories, but in the hearts of all Americans, who are forever grateful for their service, valor, and sacrifice.”

Obama urged citizens to “renew our sacred commitment to those who answered our country's call in Vietnam and those who awaited their safe return.”

Beginning on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012, he said, the federal government will partner with local governments, private organizations, and communities across America to participate in the Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.

The 13-year commemoration, he added, will “honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced.”

No amount of words will ever be enough or fully worthy in praising military members for their service in the Vietnam War, nor any honor truly befitting their sacrifice, Obama said.

However, “it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women who answered the call of duty with courage and valor,” he said, adding it’s also important to “renew our commitment to the fullest possible accounting for those who have not returned.”

Obama urged all Americans to provide “our Vietnam veterans, their families, and all who have served the fullest respect and support of a grateful nation.”

Petty Officers See Advancement Improvement - Results Here

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- More than 29,000 Sailors are on their way to advancement to E4, E5 and E6 with the release of the Petty Officer list May 25.

Navy leaders opened advancement opportunity to higher levels this cycle to fill Fleet vacancies with Sailors possessing the skills and experience required.

"As part of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative focus on readiness, our goal is to provide the Fleet with the right Sailor with the right skills and the right experience level to maximize Navy's readiness," said Rear Adm. Tony Kurta, director of Military Personnel Plans and Policy.

Sailors taking the E4 test saw their advancement opportunity increase from 30.97 percent to 45.83 percent while E5 advancement opportunity increased from 20.68 percent to 30.94 percent. Those taking the E6 test saw opportunity increase from 10.75 percent to 16.18 percent.

Links to the full advancement list are here:

Active Duty -

Navy Full Time Support Sailors -

Canvaser Recruiters -

No ratings had zero back to back opportunity and only one rating (at only the E6 level) saw zero opportunity this cycle. However, officials point out, future advancement opportunity may not be as high as this cycle; but will move closer to historic advancement levels.

Navy's continued efforts to provide a balanced force are proving successful, officials said. As the force becomes more balanced, future advancement opportunity will become more stable offering more consistent promotion opportunity to Sailors over the long term.

Advancement results are posted on the Navy Personnel Command's Bupers On-Line Web page at

Dempseys, Bidens Honor Survivors, Biden Shares Loss

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va.  – The first family of the military joined the second family of the United States here today in support of relatives of those who died while serving their country.

“We’re here to honor you this weekend,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, standing alongside his wife, Deanie, told some 2,000 people who gathered at a Marriott hotel to start the 18th annual TAPS National Military Survivor Seminar. TAPS, or Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, is a nonprofit group that supports surviving families of fallen service members.

“Most Americans have not had the life-altering experience of being handed a folded flag like all of you have,” Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

“You are the face of these two wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dempsey said. “We honor your sacrifice … and will never forget it.”

“We’re with you,” he added. “I promise you that.”

Dempsey said he was honored to share the stage with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. “I can tell you, their heart is exactly where you want it to be,” he told the audience.

Looking out over a sea of red TAPS “Survivor” t-shirts, Biden shared his own personal story of loss with the audience. It was just a few weeks after his first election to the U.S. Senate on Dec. 18, 1972 when the call came into his Washington office that his wife and three very young children had been in a car crash.

“Just like you guys, you can tell by the tone of that phone call,” he said. “You can feel it in your bones.”

Biden was told that his wife, Neilia, and their one-year-old daughter, were both dead. “They were not sure if my sons would make it,” he told the hushed crowd.

“I know people meant well when they came up and said, ‘Joe, I know how you feel,’ but they didn’t have a damn idea,” he said as some clapped with empathy.

“For the first time in my life, I understood how someone could contemplate suicide,” Biden said. “Because you’ve been to the top of the mountain and you knew you’d never get there again.

“No parent should be pre-deceased by their son or daughter,” he added.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I was angry,” Biden said, adding that the devastation tested his faith as a Catholic.

Biden’s sons made a full recovery and he remarried in 1977. “This woman literally saved my life,” he said, reaching out to Jill next to him.

The vice president went on to say that he “has a wonderful family. They are always there for me. But there is still something gigantic missing.”

Each year, Biden said, Jill makes a wreath to commemorate the family’s loss and they take flowers to the cemetery.

“Your relationship with your family will be like a bond of steel,” Biden told the survivors. “You’ll see the depth of a relationship you never knew could happen.”

Speaking to those who’d lost spouses, the vice president said, “You’re going to go through periods where you will feel guilty as hell” by starting a new relationship. But, he added, “Keep thinking about what your husband or wife would want you to do.”

Biden urged the survivors to have hope. “It can and will get better. There will come a day, I promise, when your thoughts of your son or daughter or husband or wife will bring a smile to your face before it brings a tear.”

Resilient Sailors Keep Fleet Moving

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Maria Yager, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 1,500 service members and civilians representing all branches of the military attended the 2012 Navy and Marine Corps Combat and Operational Stress Control (COSC) Conference in San Diego May 23 and 24.

The conference matched operational leaders from the fleet, like Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, commander, Naval Surface Forces; and Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet; with medical and readiness experts including Rear Adm. Elizabeth Niemyer, deputy chief, Wounded, Ill, & Injured, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; Capt. Kurt Scott, director, Behavioral Health, and Navy medical and readiness researchers.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity to be able to be here at this conference. I think it is very meaningful, very important and is a very strong signal to our Sailors just how much importance we give to this work," said Hunt. "Being able to develop resilience for our people, giving them the right resources, the right training and education so that they can adjust to the very uncertain environment that we have out there is important."

The theme, Joining Forces to Strengthen Resilience, was chosen to directly support the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which is a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, across a spectrum of wellness that maximizes each Sailor's and Marine's personal readiness to hone the most combat effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.

"Making sure we take care of our people in a very positive way, upfront and early is what is absolutely necessary to make sure we have that continual combat readiness that we need," said Hunt.

Participants discussed Operational Stress Control (OSC) and the Combat and Operational Stress Continuum. The continuum is a color-coded guide for Sailors and leaders to measure their stress as it relates to one of four zones: ready, reacting, injured or ill.

According to OSC, stress is a part of everyday life. Used to our advantage stress can move us to higher levels of performance, but too much or extreme stress can have negative consequences. OSC seeks to educate Sailors, Marines, families and command leaders to take care of themselves, to stay fit and healthy, to look out for one another and take action when they see themselves or others reacting negatively to stress. The goal is to prepare 21st Century Sailors and Marines and their families to positively manage the stress.

"The challenges out there change on a daily basis and the more prepared they are with a very rich education and background the better they are to adapt and overcome," said Hunt.

OSC and the continuum are concepts applicable to the entire fleet.

COSC presenters included Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program; Navy Physical Readiness Program; Marine Total Fitness Panel; Navy Personnel Research Studies; Technology, Fleet and Family Support Center; and experts in nutrition, resiliency, sleep studies, behavioral health, suicide prevention and post traumatic stress disorder.

"This is a distinctive event because it is the only one of its kind that brings together such a diverse audience that is singularly united in its passion to help ensure the psychological well-being of our Sailors and Marines," said Capt. Scott Johnston, director, Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control. "Line leaders will help the medical community to understand the realities of readiness and operational needs. Healthcare providers, in turn, will inform leaders of the best way to identify stress and to mitigate it."

For more information on combat and operational stress control visit

Obama: Memorial Day Honors the Memory of the Fallen

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – Memorial Day is a time for Americans to honor the memory of the service members who died in the nation’s wars and an opportunity to pray for the day when such wars no longer occur, President Barack Obama said in his Memorial Day proclamation issued today.

“Our nation endures and thrives because of the devotion of our men and women in uniform, who, from generation to generation, carry a burden heavier than any we may ever know,” Obama said in his proclamation. “On Memorial Day, we honor those who have borne conflict's greatest cost, mourn where the wounds of war are fresh, and pray for a just, lasting peace.”

American history is filled with the stories “of sons and daughters who gave their lives in service to the country they loved,” Obama said. “They were patriots who overthrew an empire and sparked revolution. They were courageous men and women who strained to hold a young Union together. They were ordinary citizens who rolled back the creeping tide of tyranny, who stood post through a long twilight struggle, who saw terror and extremism threaten our world's security and said, ‘I'll go.’"

America’s fallen service members “are forever bound by a legacy of valor older than the Republic itself,” the president said in his proclamation. “Now they lay at rest in quiet corners of our country and the world, but they live on in the families who loved them and in the soul of a nation that is safer for their service.”

Memorial Day is a time when Americans “join together in prayer for the fallen,” Obama said.

“We remember all who have borne the battle, whose devotion to duty has sustained our country and kept safe our heritage as a free people in a free society,” he said. “Though our hearts ache in their absence, we find comfort in knowing that their legacy lives on in all of us -- in the security that lets us live in peace, the prosperity that allows us to pursue our dreams, and the love that still beats in those who knew them.”

“May God bless the souls of the venerable warriors we have lost, and may He watch over the men and women who serve us now,” Obama added. “Today, tomorrow, and in perpetuity, let us give thanks to them by remaining true to the values and virtues for which they fight.”