Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Navy Announces Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and the Navy is using the month as a launch pad to focus on Navy's ongoing suicide prevention efforts, officials announced in NAVADMIN 259/12 released Aug. 27.

During each week of the month resources will be available to guide discussion on stress navigation and suicide prevention concepts. The weekly concepts to be explored are: building resilience, navigating stress, encouraging bystander intervention to A-C-T (Ask Care Treat), and reducing barriers for seeking support through counseling.

The tools and resources are available on www.suicide.navy.mil and www.navynavstress.com. These tools emphasize the themes of dedication, optimism, determination and humor.

Additionally, the winner of the Suicide Prevention Public Service Announcement Contest will be announced Sept. 28. The winning video will be available year-round online and will be broadcast regularly on Direct-to-Sailor television, the American Forces Network and Pentagon channel.

"Our people are our greatest asset," said Capt. Kurt Scott, Behavioral Health Programs director, Bureau of Naval Personnel. "We're promoting a lifestyle of total fitness - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually - to ensure our Sailors are best able to meet the challenges they will face in today's Navy. These efforts reinforce the Secretary of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, as well as support the Chief of Naval Operation's directions. Most importantly, focusing on total fitness puts us on a path to prevent suicides."

Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training Exercise Begins

From Logistics Group Western Pacific Public Affairs

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore (NNS) -- The 10th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise commenced Aug. 27, with liaison officers from the United States, Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand tracking contacts of interest in a maritime interdiction scenario.

SEACAT highlights the value of information sharing and multilateral coordination within scenarios that give participating navies hands-on practice in maritime interdiction operations (MIO). The weeklong exercise includes both a three-day command post exercise at the Multinational Operations and Exercise Center and a four-day field training exercise at sea.

During the at sea phase, the U.S. Navy rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) is serving as a simulated vessel of interest, and will be tracked by liaison officers on land, at sea, and in the air. These liaison officers will work with their U.S. counterparts to share and discuss MIO tactics, and develop interception plan options. Safeguard will be boarded at sea by several participating navies.

U.S. P-3 aircraft deployed to 7th Fleet will locate training contacts of interest for various boarding scenarios, and conduct real-world maritime domain awareness missions. A team of trainers from Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training will evaluate boarding exercises, sharing best practices with their host nation counterparts.

"This exercise is about strengthening coordination and interoperability among all six participating navies," said Rear Adm. Tom Carney, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOG WESTPAC) and U.S. lead for the exercise. "SEACAT provides unique opportunities to observe multiple partner navies and share best practices in ways that matter during real-world operations."

SEACAT, which began in 2002 under the name "Southeast Asia Cooperation Against Terrorism," was renamed after the 2011 exercise to reflect the growing desire for increased coordinated training between the U.S. Navy and its partners, and among regional partner navies.

COMLOG WESTPAC is 7th Fleet's theater security cooperation agent for Southeast Asia, promoting military-to-military relations and coordinating exercises such as SEACAT and nine annual phases of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Visits Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Adam Thomas, Commander Naval Forces Japan Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN)(Manpower and Reserve Affairs), Juan M. Garcia III, kicked off a tour to the region Japan U.S. military installations with a visit to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) Aug. 27.

During his tour of the region, Garcia is scheduled to visit a total of five region Japan area installations including CFAY, Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

"We're here visiting the region for three reasons," said Garcia. "First, in a time of enormous change in the Navy and Marine Corps which includes a new budget, a new national defense strategy and significant personnel policy changes, we need to address some possible misperceptions, give you the ground truth as we know it, and hopefully alleviate some anxiety."

Garcia held an all-hands call at CFAY where he highlighted the "21st Century Sailor and Marine", a new initiative rolled out by the Secretary of the Navy and senior leaders, which is designed to maximize the personal readiness of Sailors and Marines in order to sharpen the effectiveness of combat forces.

"We know that the new national defense strategy which includes a rebalance to the Pacific is a sea service strategy," said Garcia. "It's about the Navy and Marine Corps, and most importantly the great folks that are out here on the tip of the spear. We want to make certain that they have the tools needed to excel and that's what the 21st Century Sailor and Marine is all about."

During the all-hands call, Sailors and Marines had the opportunity to ask Garcia questions and address their concerns regarding recent personnel policies.

"I was impressed by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Garcia's responses to our questions. He spoke about a lot of good information regarding the new initiatives," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Theodore Mitchell. "It makes Sailors feel good that he's taken the time to come and speak to us about our concerns. He didn't just talk around the subjects; he addressed them right at our level."

The position of ASN is to act on matters that affect manpower and personnel policy within the Department of the Navy. His duties include issues that affect active duty and Reserve Sailors, Marines, and Department of the Navy civilians.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day Honors All Sailors 'Until They Are Home'

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will join the nation in commemorating Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day Sept. 21, as announced in NAVADMIN 262/12.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is a day of observance for all Americans to offer remembrance, honor, and respect to service members who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing as a result of the nation's conflicts.

The 2012 national theme, "Until They Are Home," pays special tribute to the families of these service members who have sacrificed and endured on behalf of their loved ones.

"National POW/MIA Recognition Day gives us the opportunity to honor the sacrifices of our POW/MIA service members, and to reaffirm our sacred promise to our nation to bring every warrior home," said Rear Adm. Martha Herb, director of personnel readiness and community support. "This year's theme especially recognizes family members of our POW/MIA Sailors, many of whom continue to wait for the return of their loved ones."

All commands are encouraged to host or support local POW/MIA Recognition Day activities. Suggested activities include displaying the missing man table in a unit work space and hosting formal ceremonies in which a former POW or family member of a current MIA Sailor is a guest speaker.

This observance is also one of six days throughout the year that Congress has mandated the flying of the National League of Families' POW/MIA flag. The others are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

 Today, more than 33,000 Sailors from World War II through the Persian Gulf War remain unaccounted for. Each year, Navy's POW/MIA section assists with repatriating Sailors and returning them to their loved ones for burial in our homeland. The Department of Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel office (DPMO) is the U.S. government agency that leads Navy's effort to account for missing service members.

Shinseki Notes Strides in Serving Nation’s Veterans

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2012 – The Department of Veterans Affairs has made great strides in meeting the challenges posed by a decade of war, and cooperation with the Defense Department is crucial to continued progress, VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said today.

In a speech at the American Legion convention in Indianapolis, Shinseki said repeated deployments over the last decade have created “issues that don’t show up right away.”

“More [service members] are surviving catastrophic injuries, but higher survival rates also mean complex casualties,” he said. Post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, [and] amputations, blindness, deafness and other injuries can have compounding effects, he explained.

“It takes a superb, disciplined fighting force to handle this kind of strain for this long.”

By next summer, Shinseki said, VA will have increased funding for treatment of veterans with spinal cord injuries by 28 percent since 2009. He added that funding for traumatic brain injury treatment will have increased by 38 percent, mental health funding by 39 percent, long-term care funding by 39 percent and prosthetics funding by 58 percent. Funding for female veterans’ health issues will have increased by 123 percent, with a potential total increase of 158 percent by 2014.

In the face of these challenges, he said, VA has decided the compensation claims of 2.9 million veterans in the past three and a half years. In 2012, he expects that for the third straight year, VA will decide 1 million.

The secretary acknowledged that a backlog of claims exists, but added that “no one is standing at parade rest.”

“This is a dynamic process. When you push 2.9 million claims out the door and 3.5 million come in, … we have to find ways to dominate those numbers.”

VA also is working with Pentagon officials to establish a single, common integrated electronic health record by 2014, Shinseki said. “Seamless transition of service members departing the military and joining VA is crucial.”

Both departments, he noted, are reaching out to veterans and service members in crisis, who now can make a phone call any time for the help they need.

“One of our most successful outreach efforts is our Veterans Crisis Line,” Shinseki said. “DOD knows it as the Military Crisis Line. Same number, same trained VA mental health professionals answering the phone.” Service members and veterans can reach the crisis line at 800-273-8255 or send a text message to 838225.