Military News

Monday, August 06, 2012

High Speed Vessel Swift Visits Liberia for Africa Partnership Station Visit


By Ensign Joe Keiley, Swift Public Affairs

MONROVIA, Liberia (NNS) -- High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) pulled into Liberia Aug. 3, to begin port visit in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) West 2012.

Swift's crew was greeted by a band and members of the Liberian Coast Guard who stood in formation to be greeted by Swift's Military Detachment officer-in-charge and civilian captain.

"The real goal of our visit is increasing maritime safety and security, we'll accomplish that through the collaborative efforts of our service members and the members of the local militaries we visit and it's great to see the response we're getting so far," said Lt. Cmdr. Brad Fillius, Swift's military detachment officer-in-charge.

During the stop, Swift will offload various humanitarian supplies as part of Project Handclasp, which is a U.S. Navy initiative that accepts, and transports educational, humanitarian, and goodwill material overseas on space available basis on ships.

A team of doctors and nurses embarked on the vessel will also conduct the Medical Civil Action Program (MEDCAP) during outreach events in the West African nations the ship will visit. In Liberia, the group will be able to assess medical care in the region while providing aid to the people at scheduled events during the visit.

"We hope to be able to build capacity, make friends, and continue those relationships, which are just some of the things to look forward to in terms of making this a positive experience," said Lt. Cmdr. Rommel Flores, MEDCAP team officer-in-charge. "The locals help us understand what they're faced with, we'll be seeing complicated cases and we'll be able to work with them to make sure the correct level of care is provided."

The health fair conducted by the medical team will kick-off Aug. 7 with a visit from the Liberian Minister of Health and U.S. Embassy officials.
During the port stop, several groups will hold subject-matter expert exchanges on topics like port security, infantry and combat medical tactics as well as leadership and non-lethal weapons training.

Those engagements will be conducted by embarked U.S. Marines from Members of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Africa (SPMAGTF) 12-2 Security Cooperation Team 6, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) instructors who were involved with similar events on the ship's APS East mission early in the summer.

"It will be great to see the different services working together, sharing ideas and training together, it's something we can carry into the future port visits we'll make," said Fillius.

The ship will host a distinguished visitor reception Aug. 4 where the invited guests will get a chance to see the unique capabilities of Swift and share in the friendship building that is integral to coordinating future visits for APS.

APS focuses on building cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services in order to achieve common international goals, primarily stability and security.

After departing Liberia, Swift plans to make six additional stops in West Africa as part of their APS mission.

Chief of Navy Chaplains Observes SAPR Training, Graduation at Great Lakes


By Sue Krawczyk, Training Support Center Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- The chief of Navy chaplains visited Training Support Center (TSC), Great Lakes Aug. 1-3 to get a firsthand look at TSC's efforts to raise sexual assault awareness and prevention among the Sailors.

Rear Adm. Mark L. Tidd observed bystander intervention and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) training as well as a presentation of "No Zebras, No Excuses," a Central Michigan University production aimed at challenging sexual assault myths and stereotypes.

"Sexual Assault impacts every one of us, from the Sailor victimized to command morale and mission," Tidd said. "One incident means everyone's workload goes up. The key word is respect. By respecting each other's personal boundaries we ensure that we have everyone's best interests in mind."

"No Zebras" is the first program to focus on bystander mentality, addressing the impact of intervention on situations of sexual aggression. It stresses sexual aggression can no longer be ignored, empowering students to stand up, take a stand, and help keep others safe.

The title of "No Zebras" is a reference as to when zebras are attacked by lions; they watch their own get eaten. "No Zebras" is a way of saying, when it comes to sexual assault, don't be a zebra - don't stand by why others are being preyed upon; act and keep predators at bay.

"As sexual assault hurts shipmates and affects readiness, this topic is so important that Navy wide training has been instituted," Tidd said.

Following the presentations, Tidd met with TSC chaplains to offer his insights of their efforts.

"I'm impressed by the impact and participation in the whole SAPR program because the chaplains and religious program specialists (RPs) are a huge resource for the command and that's true anywhere in the Navy," Tidd said. "If it's true anywhere else it's absolutely true here. I'm impressed by their commitment in taking care of our people, to serving our Sailors, to serving our leadership and supporting each other in this, as well to all the civilians who are very involved in this as well."

Cmdr. Lynn Peterson, command chaplain of TSC, describes the role of the chaplains at TSC as a support system. The chaplains are those with whom a victim can sit down with to discuss their issues and feel safe, she explained.

"We're sometimes the only people who will take that time and say, 'Let's just talk about it,'" Peterson said. "Whether it's an actual victim, a family member of a victim, or a friend of victim, we're involved in all those kinds of things. We are the counselors."

According to Peterson, the frequency of higher level of sexual assaults among the students is down, however, the lower level of assaults - such as inappropriate groping - are still occurring.

"We are getting that word out. People are watching out for each other," Peterson said.

Peterson believes Tidd understands her plea to provide TSC's chaplains with additional training.

"He is appreciative of what we are doing here because we are the pilot people in a lot of ways, the test programs," Peterson said. "Our chaplains are trusted here and we're engaged in the process."

Tidd wrapped up his visit with the chaplains by expressing his assurance in providing what is needed for a successful SAPR program.

"As Chief of Chaplains, I am committed to leading every chaplain and RP toward active engagement in Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, and equipping them to provide the highest quality pastoral care to all sailors and family members affected by sexual assault incidences," Tidd said.

While on Naval Station Great Lakes, Tidd also served as the reviewing officer for the Pass-In-Review (PIR) graduation ceremony in the Recruit Training Command's (RTC) USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall, during which 841 recruits, after completing recruit training requirements, became Sailors.

"I consider it a true honor to be the reviewing officer at the RTC graduation," said Tidd. "Today's Sailors are the most technologically savvy and employ a high level of insight and awareness. We are a high-IQ Navy."

Before graduation, Tidd visited some of RTC's most distinctive structures including the 173,000 square-foot, three-story physical fitness training facility, Freedom Hall, as well as the Navy's largest training simulator, USS Trayer (BST-21).

Trayer, a 210-foot-long replica of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, is a state-of-the-art training facility using theme park special effects technology to simulate a variety of shipboard emergencies including shipboard fires and compartment flooding. On board Trayer, recruits must successfully complete the Battle Stations, a grueling 12-hour event during which recruits complete 17 different shipboard scenarios, before finishing recruit training.

"It is likely that our latest graduates are willing to trust their twitting and tweeting over other, more established influences. Just as the human body needs time to recover from injury or illness, our youngest shipmates need to remember that life takes time, and relationships take more than 140 characters to develop and grow, said Tidd. "Today's technological priorities impact other equally important areas, such as personal and work relationships, spirituality, and emotional well-being."

Tidd also toured other RTC facilities, including the Small Arms Marksmanship Trainer and the command's in-processing facility, the Golden Thirteen. This facility, named for the U.S. Navy's first 13 African-American officers, is where all recruits are sent to in-process into the Navy upon arrival at RTC. He also visited a recruit barracks, or ship, to see where recruits live, study and eat.

At the PIR, the chief of chaplains welcomed the graduating recruits and their family members to the Navy.

"Get ready for one of the greatest adventures of your life!" Tidd said. "Take advantage of what the Navy has to offer you, and strive for excellence in your service in the Navy."

TSC Great Lakes is the only training command located within the same vicinity as boot camp and is the home of five learning sites operated independently. The command supports 85 percent of the Surface Navy School and averages 13,500 student throughputs per year.

Law Allows VA Health Benefits for Camp Lejeune Water Victims


By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2012 – President Barack Obama today signed into law a bill enabling the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health benefits to veterans and families diagnosed with diseases related to water contamination at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“I think all Americans feel we have a moral, sacred duty toward our men and women in uniform,” Obama said before signing the "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012" in the Oval Office. The law covers those with conditions linked to water contamination that occurred on Camp Lejeune between 1957 and 1987.

“They protect our freedom, and it’s our obligation to do right by them,” he said. “This bill takes another important step in fulfilling that commitment.”

The president was joined at the signing by Jerry Ensminger, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant who served at Camp Lejeune and advocated on behalf of affected veterans and families. The first title of the law was named after his daughter, Janey, who died of leukemia at age 9. Mike Partain also attended. The son and grandson of Marine officers, Partain was born at Camp Lejeune and developed breast cancer at age 39. He serves as a community representative for the Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

“This bill ends a decade-long struggle for those who serve at Camp Lejeune,” Obama said. “Some of the veterans and their families who were based in Camp Lejeune in the years when the water was contaminated will now have access to extended medical care. And, sadly, this act alone will not bring back those we’ve lost, including Jane Ensminger, but it will honor their memory by making a real difference for those who are still suffering.”

The bill has several other provisions to improve VA health care coverage, housing, education and burial benefits, White House officials said. An initiative on preventing homelessness among veterans renews VA’s authority to work with community organizations and make use of previously underutilized VA properties, they said.

“It is going to have an immediate impact,” Obama said. “It is going to improve access to health care, streamline services in the VA, and it expands support for veterans who are homeless.”

The law also restricts protests at military funerals by prohibiting demonstrations from within 300 feet for two hours before and after services. “I am very pleased to be signing this bill into law,” the president said. “The graves of our veterans are hallowed ground. And, obviously, we all defend our Constitution and the First Amendment and free speech, but we also believe that when men and women die in the service of their country and are laid to rest, it should be done with the utmost honor and respect.”

Panetta: DOD-Community Partnerships Essential in Austerity


By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

MONTEREY, Calif., Aug. 6, 2012 – Partnerships between the Defense Department and civilian communities always have been important, but are essential in a challenging fiscal environment, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said here today.

In a keynote address at the Association of Defense Communities conference, Panetta announced that two communities will receive grants under a $300 million congressional appropriation for transportation infrastructure improvements in communities affected by the 2005 round of base realignments and closures.

One grant will provide the city of Lakewood, Wash., with $5.7 million for improvements to the Freedom Bridge overpass near Madigan Army Medical Center. Montgomery County, Md., will receive $40 million for improvements to pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation access around the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Panetta said the grants represent a commitment to working with communities affected by base realignments and closures.

In his 16 years in Congress, the secretary said, he became deeply familiar with the full range of issues affecting defense communities. When Fort Ord, Calif., was designated for closure in 1991, he added, it presented the most difficult challenge of his career in Congress. He credited collaboration between the military and local communities with finding an appropriate reuse of the land that once represented 25 percent of the community’s jobs. The effort overcame “incredible, complicated, and sometimes nonsensical bureaucracy,” he said.

“Out of crisis, this community developed an opportunity to allow our area to succeed in the face of this difficult challenge,” he added.

Proposals ran the gamut from theme parks to prisons, Panetta said, but military and civilian leaders ultimately agreed on the site’s fate.

“All of us felt that probably the best centerpiece we could have for the reuse of that area was to be able to locate a campus of the university system there,” Panetta said, adding that the site is now home to California State University Monterey Bay. The Fort Ord Dunes State Park, residential subdivisions, a veterans’ transition center and a nature preserve also occupy the area today. In April, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating a 14,651-acre portion of the former post as the Fort Ord National Monument.

The Fort Ord experience, Panetta said, serves as an appropriate backdrop to the “very real fiscal crisis” facing the Defense Department and defense communities as the nation emerges from a decade of war only to face severe budget cuts. Regardless of whether more realignments and closures are forthcoming, he said, the Defense Department is going to have to look at basing infrastructure as it seeks to reduce overhead costs.

The first four BRAC rounds, Panetta said, are producing $8 billion in annual savings, and a comparable figure from the 2005 BRAC round is $4 billion. He acknowledged that unfinished business remains from previous BRAC rounds, and pledged to work to resolve remaining concerns.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department must continue to seek innovative ways to work with communities to advance shared interests, Panetta said, particularly when that cooperation can reduce costs.

Navy Personnel Command Leaders to Meet with Norfolk-based Sailors


From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Representatives from Navy Personnel Command's fleet engagement team will be in Norfolk, Aug. 13-16 to meet with Sailors and discuss the latest personnel policies and initiatives impacting the fleet.

"The visit is intended to ensure command leadership teams understand current manpower programs as well as promote the professional and personal development of our Sailors," said Capt. Steve Holmes, Bureau of Naval Personnel, director, community management branch. "These visits are also an excellent opportunity to get feedback directly from the fleet."

The team will discuss recently announced initiatives like Limited Directed Detailing, Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Early Return to Sea, as well as Voluntary Sea Duty Program, all designed to ensure high-priority billets at sea are manned.

Additional briefs will focus on Navy force management initiatives including Fleet Ride Perform-to-Serve (FR-PTS), enlisted and officer community health and recent changes to Career Management System Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID) the web-based program enlisted Sailors use to review and apply for permanent change of station (PCS) orders.

The changes to CMS/ID are part of the Navy's coordinated effort to aggressively address gaps at sea and place Sailors with the right experience levels and skill sets into high-priority Fleet billets. Detailers will fill all advertised billets each cycle so it is important that Sailors understand how this may impact them.

The team will conduct briefs at Naval Station Norfolk, Aug. 13 and 14; Naval Air Station Oceana, Aug. 15; and on board USS Bataan (LHD 5), Aug. 16. Sailors should contact their command career counselor for times and locations.

"The briefs are designed to provide information needed to make informed career decision. They target leadership and Sailors to give each the information needed in the current operating environment," said Holmes.

Spouses are also encouraged to attend. The team will meet with Sailors in Pensacola, Fla. later this month.

For more information, contact the Navy Personnel Command Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (827-5672) or via e-mail at CSCMailbox@navy.mil.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.

NADAP Seeks Sailors Opinions


From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- A Navy-wide survey was launched Aug. 6 to learn more about Sailors' alcohol use and the best ways to communicate abuse prevention and responsible use of alcohol messages, according to the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention (NADAP) Office director.

The survey is completely anonymous, according to Dorice Favorite, director, NADAP program, and will take only five to eight minutes to finish.

"Every Sailor's feedback will be invaluable in helping to shape the messages we create, to determine the appropriate communication tactics, and identify effective tools to use to help prevent alcohol abuse in the Navy," said Dorice Favorite, director, NADAP program.

The "Right Spirit" campaign was created in 1995 and focused on alcohol abuse prevention education, de-glamorization of alcohol use, alternatives to drinking, and clear and enforceable policy guidance from commanders. As a result, the Navy's "responsible use" policy on alcohol has led to an overall steady decline in alcohol use by Sailors.

"It is time to effectively revamp the Navy Right Spirit campaign," said Favorite. "NADAP is conducting qualitative and quantitative research to identify knowledge, attitude, behaviors, and practices associated with alcohol abuse in the Navy. Sailors have changed since we started the "Right Spirit" program and we need a communications campaign that grows with them."

Sailors responses to the survey will help to inform a new social marketing campaign aimed at reducing alcohol abuse in the Navy.

To take the survey, visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Z3LNH7P.

The survey password is "Navy." The password is case sensitive. For security purposes, participants can only take the survey once from an IP address, which protects the integrity of the data.

The survey will be online until Aug. 27. For more information on NADAP, visit www.npc.navy.mil.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.

Employers Court Troops, Spouses, Vets at Job Fairs


By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

HAMPTON, Va., Aug. 6, 2012 – Transitioning service members, military spouses and veterans attending hundreds of job fairs around the country like one held here Aug. 2 are finding themselves on the proverbial red carpet as employers pack arenas to add those closest to the armed forces to their payrolls.

Job seekers maintained long lines at the booths of employers in industries long known to hire veterans, such as law enforcement and defense contractors, as well as some less traditional career paths, such as finance. The fair held at the convention center here was one of some 400 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program is hosting with Defense Department agencies this year.

Navy Seaman Terrance Cartlidge was among the service members who waited in line to speak with prospective employers about his post-military options. After nearly four years in the Navy, Cartlidge, 24, hopes to land a good job and go to college after he separates in November.

“I know we’re still in a recession, but this is exciting that people are wanting to hire right now,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good about it.”

Andrea Hall accepted resumes and spoke with many prospective employees for her company, CSC, which counts 25 percent of its workforce as veterans or military spouses. CSC hired 1,800 spouses and veterans last year, with more than 600 of those having a disability, she said.

“You hear about the good will of employers [in hiring veterans and spouses], but this really speaks to our bottom line,” Hall said. “We want to put people who are comfortable with that environment, who speak the language of the military, who have or can get a security clearance” to work on defense contracts.

Like many recruiters focused on hiring from the military community, Hall understands it well because it was her world, too. She was an Army wife for 21 years until her husband retired last year. After years of trying to juggle a career through frequent moves, she settled into her current job in 2005 after working for the Army Spouse Employment Program.

Today, Hall said, she is happy to help spouses, transitioning service members, wounded warriors, and their caregivers get – and maintain – CSC jobs. “We have some spouses who have been here for years,” she said, noting that the company tries to place them in new jobs throughout their relocations.
“We advocate on their behalf,” she said.

Lockette Dickerson also has been on both sides of the hiring spouses table. She was the director of a welfare-to-work program for the city of Philadelphia when she married her husband, John, a 25-year Navy noncommissioned officer, six years ago. After living on opposite coasts through one Navy tour, the couple moved together to Japan, where Lockette found her “best fit” for employment with the Navy Exchange. She was able to transfer her Navy Exchange human resources job when the couple recently relocated here.

Dickerson said her co-workers at the Exchange have been understanding of military life – such as giving her leave when her husband first returns from ship duty – in ways that other employers may not. “That has been immeasurable as a benefit,” she said.

Military-related job seekers may also find support outside of defense-related jobs.

Thomas Haydon and Derrick Beggs, both recently separated from Army infantry divisions, were manning the Capitol One booth here as representatives of the banking giant’s military recruiting division. The two rattled off numerous cities they have been to or will visit in the coming weeks in an effort to grow the bank’s ranks of those with military-related experience.

“We’re growing, so we’re going all over the place” as Capitol One looks to fill 3,600 positions in the next year, Haydon said. Some of those jobs, such as loan coordinators, require no financial experience – but do require three years in the military, he said.

“It’s because of their skills, their abilities, … the duty, honor, and respect,” Beggs said of the targeted military hiring.

“It’s their ability to work in a team,” Hayden added. “It’s their ability to work under pressure, you name it -- they make great employees.”

To show their support for spouses, Hayden said, Capital One recently launched a pilot program in Chesapeake, Va., and Tampa, Fla., where military spouses can work from home as call center associates.

Destiny Ashlock, a district leader for Primerica Financial Services, said her company also works to hire and keep military spouses by networking to transfer them as they move from state to state. Primerica’s regional leader here, retired Army Lt. Col. Daniel Roose, is committed to hiring from the military community, she said.

“We want employees who are motivated, trainable and who like helping people,” Ashlock said.

It’s because of the recession, and not in spite of it, Ashlock said, that Primerica is increasing hiring of people who can teach others to manage their money.

“We’re all about helping families,” she said. “Education is the main thing we do. We want to hire as many people as possible because the need out here is great.”

Secretary of the Navy Visits Enterprise


By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian G. Reynolds, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Ray Mabus visited aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in the Arabian Sea Aug. 6-7, as the carrier continued its 25th and final deployment.

Enterprise Sailors and Marines, currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, used this opportunity to welcome Mabus to the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Following his arrival on the carrier's flight deck, Mabus was greeted by Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter, commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (ENTCSG) and Capt. William C. Hamilton, Jr., Enterprise's commanding officer.

Mabus was then escorted to the ship's navigation bridge and primary flight control before moving to the hangar bay where he addressed more than 3,000 Sailors and Marines gathered for an all-hands call.

 "I'm happy to be here with you all," said Mabus as he addressed Big E's crew. "I'm happy to be here on this historic ship, on its historic last voyage."

During his address, Mabus thanked the crewmembers for their service and told them that he understands that what they do is not easy.

"The Navy and Marines are America's 'away team,'" said Mabus. "The people at home never know just how skilled you are. They never see what it takes to do what you do and put on that uniform on a daily basis. On their behalf, I want to say 'thank you.'"

Mabus continued his expression of gratitude, saying, "I know that this ship and all of our ships have had an incredibly high operational tempo. I understand the stress that it puts on your families. The importance of what you all are doing for America cannot be overstated."

He also spoke of how the Navy's role in maritime combat operations will change in the future.

"We're going to build the fleet," said Mabus. "We are going to begin to use ships differently. We are growing the fleet to meet the new responsibilities of the new national defense strategy that the president announced in January."

During the event Mabus also presided over the reenlistment of 32 Sailors and Marines and presented awards to members of the Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 team.

"The United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps are the finest expeditionary fighting force that the world has ever known," Mabus told the crew. "You are making part of the history of not only this Enterprise, but of all of the Enterprises that have sailed on behalf of our Navy and our nation."

After concluding his remarks, Mabus answered questions from the crew of the Big E and CVW-1 and posed for photos with those gathered in the hangar bay before heading to dinner with members of the enlisted crew on the carrier's mess decks.

Following dinner, Mabus was escorted on a tour of the legendary ship, visiting, among other areas, Medical department spaces, a weapons magazine, the combat direction center, carrier air traffic control center, a squadron ready room and the machinery repair shop. He was also able to observe flight operations from the flight deck, both in daylight and after sunset.

Enterprise is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security operation efforts and support missions as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Understanding voting rights and military responsibilities


By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

Next week Tuesday (Aug. 14), voters in Wisconsin will have the opportunity to narrow the field of candidates for the U.S. Senate. The Dairy State has been politically charged since 2010 and politically active this year — at least six primary or general elections in 2012, to include next week’s primary and the Nov. 6 general election.

As a Wisconsin National Guard member, your role in the political process is a little narrower than the average citizen. Your right to vote is a given. Beyond that? It depends.

Can I write a “letter to the editor” expressing personal opinions about political candidates and issues? Yes, but don’t make your statement as a member of the military

Can I write or sign partisan political articles, letters or endorsements for publication that solicit votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate or cause? No

Can I attend partisan and nonpartisan political events like fundraisers, meetings, rallies, debates and conventions as a private citizen spectator? Yes

Can I take an active part in partisan political activities like fundraisers, rallies, conventions, campaign management or debates? No

Can I serve as an election official? Yes, but not as a representative of a partisan political party, and doing so can’t interfere with military duty and cannot be done in uniform

Can I sponsor or be an official for a partisan political club? No

Can I have a political bumper sticker on my privately owned vehicle? Yes

Can I have a large political sign, banner or poster on my privately owned vehicle? No

Can I donate to political organizations, parties or committees? Yes, but don’t exceed current contribution limits set by law

Can I solicit or collect political donations from service members or civilian federal employees for promoting a political objective, cause or campaign, or actively promote (including selling tickets for) partisan political dinners and other fundraisers? No

Can I sign a petition for a specific legislative action or to place a candidate’s name on an official election ballot? Yes, as a private citizen, so long as doing so doesn’t obligate you to take part in partisan political activity

Can I speak at a gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate or cause? No

Can I take part in any radio, TV or other program or group discussion that advocates for against a partisan political party, candidate or cause? No

Can I encourage others to vote? Yes, but you cannot influence their choice in voting for a candidate

Can I march or ride in a partisan political parade? No

Can I help with organized efforts to bring voters to the polls? Not if that effort is organized by a partisan political party, cause or candidate

Can I attend a partisan political event as a member of the military? Only if you are in a joint Armed Forces color guard as part of the opening ceremony of a national convention for a political party recognized by the Federal Elections Committee

Can I work for a partisan political committee or candidate during a campaign, on election day or closing out the campaign after election day? No

Can I run as a candidate for federal, state or local government? Only under special circumstances — check with the Staff Judge Advocate’s office (608-242-3072 or DSN 724-3071) for more details

Can I exercise my freedom of speech to say what I really think about office holders? Not by using contemptuous words

Can a candidate or campaign organization use my armory or base? Candidates and elected officials can only participate in official activities at military facilities that are not related to political campaigns — direct any and all such requests to the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office at 608-242-3048

Don’t forget to be careful when using social media like Facebook or Twitter. Posting or tweeting our opinions about politics or politicians might send the wrong message if we identify ourselves on social media by our military status.

This is not a complete list of do’s and don’ts, but it’s a start. For more information, check out The Adjutant General (TAG) Policy Memorandum 29 — Political Activities. Still have questions? Post them here, or contact the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office.

Gray Earns Olympic Gold in 3-positions Rifle


By Tim Hipps
Army News Service

LONDON, Aug. 6, 2012 – Jamie Gray, wife of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter Staff Sgt. Hank Gray, won an Olympic gold medal in the women’s 50-meter rifle 3-positions event Aug. 4 at the Royal Artillery Barracks here.

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program rifle coach Maj. Dave Johnson, who leads Team USA’s rifle shooters in London, coached Gray to the victory.

Gray established Olympic records in the qualification (592) and final (691.9) portions of the event, which includes shooting from prone, standing and kneeling positions.

On the next-to-last shot of the final round, Gray recorded her worst score (8.9) of the day, but she closed with her best shot (10.8) of the finale to seal the victory with a flourish.

“It was almost a little bit of relief, honestly,” said Gray, 28, of Phenix City, Ala. “I’ve dreaded that last shot for four years, and it’s amazing to have it come through and be a good shot.

“It looked good and it felt good, so it was awesome,” she added. “After shooting an 8.9 on the next-to-last shot, you want to come back from that one, and that’s what I did.”

Serbia’s Ivana Maksimovic (687.5) claimed the silver medal, and Czech Republic’s Adela Sykorova (683) took the bronze.

Gray said she realized she could secure the gold after shooting 198 in standing. She opened with a 198 in prone, and finished with a 196 kneeling.

“After I shot a 198 standing, I was like, ‘OK, here we go. This is a good one,’” she said. “The kneeling was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever shot -- 20 shots kneeling -- and I got through it great. I can’t ask for a better kneeling today. It was windy, and I had one bad shot that just got away from me in the wind.

“Other than that,” Gray continued, “I took just great shots. Every shot was a good shot. After that, I knew that’s a big one and I have a chance at this.”

Military Families Rein In Spending on Summer Vacations, First Command Reports


First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals top money-saving plans of men and women in uniform

FORT WORTH, Texas – Again this summer the economy is impacting the rest and relaxation plans of military families, with nearly half of active-duty homes cutting back on vacation spending.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that 45 percent of middle-class military families (senior NCOs and commissioned officers in pay grades E-6 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000)  are applying one or more money-saving tactics to their summer getaway plans. Popular cost-cutting approaches include:

  • Staying closer to home (49 percent).
  • Taking shorter vacations (40 percent).
  • Driving rather than flying (40 percent).
  • Taking “staycations” (40 percent).
  • Visiting family members (34 percent).
  • Cooking while on vacation rather than eating out (22 percent).
Economic concerns are plainly evident among military families who are pursuing these cost-conscious behaviors. The Index reveals that half say they feel financially stretched month to month. One in four are not confident their financial situation will improve in the next year or in their ability to retire comfortably.
Many of these frugal strategies have become a summertime tradition in active-duty households. Of those military families staying closer to home or taking shorter vacations, one-quarter have been doing so for over three years. And among those cooking rather than eating out, over half have been doing so for over three years.
“Once again frugal living is the theme in military families,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “While summer getaways remain popular, active-duty families are keeping spending under control as part of their  larger strategies for dealing with the financial challenges of the continuing economic downturn and fears about pending military budget cuts.”

About the First Command Financial Behaviors Index®
Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. www.firstcommand.com/research

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.
Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command
First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.

First Command Financial Services, Inc., is the parent of First Command Financial Planning, Inc. (Member SIPC, FINRA), First Command Insurance Services, Inc. and First Command Bank. Financial planning services and investment products, including securities, are offered by First Command Financial Planning, Inc. Insurance products and services are offered by First Command Insurance Services, Inc. in all states except Montana, where as required by law, insurance products and services are offered by First Command Financial Services, Inc. (a separate Montana domestic corporation). Banking products and services are offered by First Command Bank. In certain states, as required by law, First Command Insurance Services, Inc. does business as a separate domestic corporation. Securities products are not FDIC insured, have no bank guarantee and may lose value. A financial plan, by itself, cannot assure that retirement or other financial goals will be met.