Military News

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD



Date: November 15, 2012
Time: 1500 Hours Pacific
Topic: Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD

The November 15, 2012, Episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with Dr. Christal Presley, Ph.D., the author of Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD. Christal Presley, PhD, is the founder of United Children of Veterans (www.unitedchildrenofveterans.com), a website that provides resources about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children of war veterans. She obtained her PhD in education in 2009, and is an instructional mentor teacher in Atlanta Public Schools.  
Publisher’s Weekly said of Thirty Days with My Father: Finding Peace from Wartime PTSD, “A soldier's return home from war is often just the beginning of another, more internalized battle. In her memoir, Presley recounts 30 days of interviews with her Vietnam veteran father—conversations in which she attempts to understand her father, his PTSD, and her own lifetime of vicarious traumas. Each day is given a chapter, and each chapter concludes with a "Journal" entry that revisits Presley's tumultuous childhood memories. What emerges from this format is a harrowing portrait of the past's ability to haunt the present; Presley's descriptions of the troubled child she was blend all too easily into the confused and searching adult she becomes. In some cases, she is compelled to go to a Veterans Affairs hospital and even to Vietnam. The book's division into 30 days feels increasingly forced and fragmented with the passing of each chapter. Such a story is, by its very nature, fractured, and by the end of the book Presley's father is no less tormented than he was at Day One. Yet Presley has found stability in her father's story, and her willingness to share it—and her own revelations—will be appreciated by readers who deal with any form of wartime PTSD.”

DOD Seeks Mentors to Help Hire People with Disabilities

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2012 – The Defense Department on Oct. 26 will kick off its annual volunteer mentoring program to help hire individuals with disabilities as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Stephen M. King, DOD’s director of disability programs, said recently.

King said the volunteer program is in step with Executive Order 13548, “Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities,” to highlight the importance of mentoring people with disabilities, and to improve the hiring and retention of people with disabilities within DOD.

"The mentor-mentee relationship develops over the course of seven months, and sometimes becomes so strong it extends outside of the program,” King said. “The relationships have even encompassed advice in decision making related not only to mentees’ professional lives, but their personal lives as well.”

DOD established the Electronic Mentoring Program –- known as “e-Mentoring” -- in 2002 to supplement the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students and Recent Graduates with Disabilities, said Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman with the Defense Press Office, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

The WRP connects the federal sector with highly motivated post-secondary students and recent grads with disabilities, Lainez said.

The WRP began in 1975 and the program was expanded to all federal agencies 20 years later. Nearly 6,000 positions since then have been filled by WRP participants.

E-Mentoring helps volunteers encourage participants to hone their career plans and consider DOD careers, King said.

E-Mentoring also offers weekly discussion topics, from interview techniques and goal setting to applying for federal jobs and business etiquette.

"Participants have said that DOD's Workforce Recruitment Program's e-Mentoring program gave them the confidence and knowledge needed when applying for full-time employment within the Department of Defense, and the federal government as a whole," King said.

Hiring people with disabilities also contributes to military readiness, Lainez said. For organizations to operate at their optimum, they must capitalize on what all employees bring to the workplace in knowledge, skills and abilities, she noted.

And people with disabilities develop problem-solving abilities that transfer to the workplace, Lainez said.
Last year, 86 recruiters from 40 federal agencies, including 33 DOD recruiters, interviewed students at 290 colleges and universities across the country. DOD hired 79 percent of the WRP participants and 30 percent were people with targeted or severe disabilities as recognized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Lainez said.

Mentors comprise service members and civilians from DOD installations worldwide who volunteer their time to help develop qualified individuals with disabilities to enter the DOD workforce. Additionally, mentors bring leadership to the program by “giving back,” she said.

“You would be surprised to know that sometimes mentors benefit from the program just as much as the mentees do,” King said.

“In working with their mentees, they are reminded of their own career goals, and become inspired to reassess their own life plans," he noted.

And those who are mentored become more prepared and integrate more easily into an organization after an experienced volunteer mentors them, Lainez added.

The varieties of opportunities in DOD career fields include business management, accounting, education, criminal justice, administration, and information technology.

Military and DOD civilian employees who are interested in becoming volunteer mentors can contact DOD’s e-Mentoring program coordinator at ability@osd.mil.

Retired 93rd ARS/CC gifts Fairchild a book full of heritage

by Airman 1st Class Earlandez Young
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/18/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A previous 93rd Air Refueling Squadron commander visited his old unit Oct. 15 with a gift from his time as a Pegasus in the '70s.

Retired Lt. Col. Al Kessler presented the current commander of the 93rd ARS, Lt. Col. Patrick O'Brien, with a scrapbook full of historic photos and news articles collected from when the KC-135 Stratotanker Combat Crew Training School closed down at Castle Air Force Base, Calif., in 1995.

Articles and photos in the heritage book date back as far as 1963.

"It's awesome to see the heritage book and it even has our squadron's patch on the front," said Capt. Chris Smith, 93rd ARS executive officer. "We see the patch around the squadron every day, but it's a lot easier to understand when you see the history behind it - especially for a lot of the young Airmen in the squadron."

The book had been sitting in the garage of a former boom operator, who told Kessler he was traveling north but wasn't going past Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Kessler offered to deliver it to Fairchild.

O'Brien and Smith gave the former squadron commander a tour where they visited mission planning, readiness, flight scheduling and more.

"The facilities now are much nicer than when I was in," said Kessler. "We had a small platform, we put a podium on it, got issued a projector and had one of the boom operators to draw some artwork on the walls - that was our squadron," he said.

Kessler also toured a Stratotaker similar to the A-Model KC-135 he flew.

Kessler and O'Brien reminisced about the T-6 Texan, a single-engine advance trainer aircraft used to train pilots during World War II. A newer model, the T-6 Texan II, sits inside the same hangar as the KC-135 they toured.

Kessler flew the original T-6 while O'Brien taught pilot training in the Texan II.

O'Brien told Kessler the newer models even have air conditioning.

"They also had air conditioning when I flew them -- all you had to do was open the back window and you'd get plenty of air," Kessler chuckled.

O'Brien and Smith expressed their sincere gratitude for all he had shared with them, from the stories and camaraderie to the important piece of 93rd ARS heritage.

The scrapbook now sits inside the auditorium of the squadron for future Airmen to enjoy.

May the 'force' be with FTAC

by Airman Sean Crowe
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The Oct. 1 through 9 First Term Airman Center class was the first class to receive security forces augmentee training Oct. 10 through 11 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

All future FTAC classes will be trained as security forces augmentees to be force multipliers if an elevated force protection condition or natural disaster requires the need of additional security forces. Security forces will now begin training Airmen immediately after the six-day FTAC course.

"The initiative is to create a large pool of service members to augment security forces by training all first-term Airmen," said Tech. Sgt. James Chubb, 87th Security Forces Squadron NCO in charge of security forces training.

The first training day begins with a series of presentations regarding key information needed to operate as an augmentee. The presentations included security forces concepts and operations, blood-borne pathogen counteraction, weapons safety and communications. The last presentation covers practical application of lethal and non-lethal use of force.

Students begin hands-on training of the collapsible baton upon completion of the classroom portion. This training includes using proper stance, opening the collapsible baton, using proper striking techniques and closing the baton. Students take turns striking a training bag after observing the instructor demonstrate proper technique.

"All armed personnel performing a force protection function should have a less-than-lethal tool available," said Chubb. "This tool gives personnel other force options to control a situation."

The second training day begins with a unit physical training session. After a break, the lessons leading up to hands-on training are searches and reporting procedures.

"I enjoyed not being overwhelmed by slideshows in the classroom," said Airman 1st Class Paul Stigler, 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron fire truck maintainer. "The handcuffing class was the most informative training I received."

Hands-on training follows classroom lessons with apprehension procedure techniques and individual and small-group tactics. Students practice application of handcuffs and handling unruly or resisting perpetrators.

"Apprehension training is conducted to train an augmentee how to detain an individual and complete an effective search if needed," said Chubb.

Individual and small-group tactics training follows apprehension training in the second day. Students learn to operate as a three-person or four-person fire team. The fire team's goal is to search for an active-shooter, then eliminate the perpetrator once found. The team practices entering rooms and engaging contacts with M4 carbine training rifles.

"A scenario may arise when an augmentee may have to respond to a situation with a security forces member, they should be able to mirror the tactics of a security forces member to ensure officer safety and mission accomplishment," said Chubb.

Airmen are certified for a year to perform augmentee duty after completion of the security forces augmentee training.

"Security is the basis of what we do," said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Pepper, Joint Base Police superintendent. "Security is the foundation that allows all our missions to be successful. Increased security requirements arise when circumstances occur locally or globally that would increase our force protection condition. This training allows all Airmen to be a sensor, a force multiplier, allowing for all missions to go on unhindered."

National Guard diversity council recognized among nation's best

by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau


10/16/2012 - ARLINGTON, Va. (10/4/12) -- The National Guard Bureau's Joint Diversity Executive Council was recognized as one of the top 25 diversity councils in the country by the Association of Diversity Councils here last week.

"I couldn't be more proud of our Joint Diversity Executive Council being recognized this year," said Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, the vice chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The JDEC placed 14th for outstanding contributions and achievement that lead organizational diversity processes, according to the Association of Diversity Councils.

"Diversity is important to the National Guard simply because it makes us better," Lengyel said. "And, in today's military forces, we simply must leverage every advantage to be the best."

Under the guidance and direction of the chief of the National Guard Bureau, the JDEC, chaired by Air Force Brig. Gen. William Burks, the Nevada adjutant general, provides strategic policies and procedures with the objective of operationalizing diversity throughout the National Guard.

In its fourth year, the Diversity Council Honors Award recognizes and awards the outstanding contributions and achievements of diversity council groups that lead organizational diversity processes and demonstrate results in their workforce, workplace and marketplace. Councils complete and submit a comprehensive application demonstrating council contributions and achievements in four categories: results; management commitment; measurement and accountability, and communication and education.

According to the National Guard Bureau Policy on Diversity, diversity includes differences in characteristics, background, attributes and experiences. However, further expansion is essential to create a culture that fosters:

    · Absolute respect for all people no matter their rank, function or position.
    · Inclusion, engagement and management of talents to capitalize the potential power.
    · Diversity in thoughts, ideas and perspectives to promote moral courage and trust.
    · Confidence in equal opportunity for all.
    · An independent mindset where collaboration is the standard.

Diversity councils effect cultural change by establishing processes and practices that are sustainable and coincide with the bottom line for the long term, according to the National Guard's "Leader's Guide to Diversity," which states that the responsibilities of diversity councils in the National Guard include:

    · Aligning diversity with strategic goals.
    · Integrating diversity into the fabric of the organization.
    · Promoting fluid communication throughout the organization.
    · Providing visionary strategies in the areas of recruitment, retention, engagement and productivity.
    · Encouraging leadership development through diversity practices and processes.
    · Improving mentoring relationships in force development.
    · Increasing employee satisfaction.

Paralleling the National Guard Bureau's Joint Diversity Executive Council, the 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia have been establishing State Joint Diversity Councils.

Organizations such as the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute teach that diversity is more complex and more about the entire culture than merely satisfying a set of statistics, but metrics remain one important measure of success in diversity. According to the "Leader's Guide," some of the significant metrics in the National Guard include recruiting and retention, assignment patterns, awards and decorations, disciplinary data, training opportunities, evaluations, promotion boards, climate surveys, leadership diversity and involvement in diversity and lawsuits and complaints.

Last week's award was National Guard Bureau Joint Diversity Executive Council's first time appearing in the national Top 25 ranking.

Association of Diversity Councils officials cited the JDEC for bold moves on a national level, including expansion of the number of State Joint Diversity Councils from 28 in 2011 to by May 46 this year, with a goal of 54.

Among numerous examples, the association cited a wing commander who increased manning strength from 78 percent to 93 percent through diversity-related mission changes.

Among National Guard leaders accepting the award in addition to Lengyel were: Mr. Lou Cabrera, comptroller and director of administration and management; Army Brig. Gen. Marianne Watson, director of manpower and personnel; Air Force Brig Gen. James Witham, chief of staff of the California Air National Guard, and Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted leader of the National Guard Bureau.

Face of Defense: Army Runner Pursues Her Dreams

2nd Infantry Division

GYEONGGIDO, South Korea, Oct. 19, 2012 – The Army prides itself on recognizing excellence, and when it came across Spc. Shernette Hyatt leaders were astonished by her running ability.


Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Shernette Hyatt, a supply clerk stationed in South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division, is a world-class sprinter and graduate of St. John's University in New York City. A native of Jamaica, Hyatt is determined to represent her country in the Olympic Games. U.S. Army courtesy photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Hyatt began running when she was 5 years old while she was living with her grandparents in Jamaica. While her grandfather wanted her to pursue her running, her grandmother forbade it. However, Hyatt’s grandfather would secretly time her as she ran to the store, watching those times steadily decrease.

One day at school, Hyatt ran a sprint with her friends, not knowing her grandmother was walking by the school at that exact moment. Hyatt beat all her classmates with ease, and her grandmother saw everything.

As her grandmother approached, Hyatt apologized profusely, tears streaming. But, to her surprise, her grandmother gave her a big hug.

“I am so proud of you. I didn’t know you could run like that,” Hyatt’s grandmother said. “Don’t let anybody take this from you. This is your strength.”
Moving to Long Island, N.Y., at the age of 13, Hyatt continued to hone her running skill throughout middle school and high school, making a name for herself in the athletic community.

She eventually accepted a full track and field scholarship to St. John’s University in New York City after completing her associate’s degree at Nassau Community College and earning two MVP awards in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.

Hyatt eventually competed in Jamaica’s Olympic trials, placing fifth. Unfortunately, budget constraints limited the number of athletes on the roster to only four. Hyatt was left out.

To continue her quest for athletic glory, Hyatt joined the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association. To financially support herself during this time, she began filling in as a substitute teacher in Florida.

Despite her continued athletic success, events in her personal life forced her to put running on hold. Soon after, she joined the Army. While serving as a Warrior Division supply clerk with Company B, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, her hopes were rekindled when she learned of the Army World Class Athlete Program, an opportunity she hopes to pursue in the near future.

Hyatt was recently inducted into the Nassau Community College’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

“I love where my life has taken me, from being a running child to the proud soldier I am today,” she said.
As she leaves South Korea during her upcoming permanent change of station move to Hawaii, Hyatt offered this advice to other Army athletes. It is the same wisdom that has served as her inspiration for most of her life.

“This is your strength. Don’t let anybody take it away from you,” she said.

Alleged Assault Results in Curfew for U.S. Forces in Japan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2012 – An alleged assault of a female Japanese citizen in Okinawa by two U.S. service members Oct. 16 has drawn an apology from the commander of U.S. forces in Japan and imposition of a curfew throughout the country.

“I want to personally apologize for the grief and trauma the victim has endured and the anger it has caused among people in Okinawa,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Salvatore A. “Sam” Angelella said in a written statement issued today.

The curfew order requires all members of the U.S. armed forces in Japan, including those serving there on temporary duty, to be on a U.S. military installation, in a private off-installation residence -- or, in the case of people on temporary duty, at their place of lodging, which may include a hotel room -- from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Violations are punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the general’s statement said.

Angelella also has ordered subordinate commanders to conduct core value retraining for military personnel and for civilians covered in the status of forces agreement between the United States and Japan. A review of the U.S. Forces Japan liberty policy will take place over the coming days and weeks, the general said.

“Japan is one of our greatest allies, most trusted partners, and is the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region,” the general said. “We will continue to do all we can to ensure the U.S.-Japan relationship remains strong.”

In a statement issued yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little expressed regret for the victim’s suffering and said officials are working closely with the Japanese government and relevant local officials in their investigation of the alleged assault.

“The Department of Defense takes all incidents and allegations involving misconduct by service members seriously and pledges its continued cooperation,” Little said. “U.S. Forces Japan is actively engaged with the government of Japan, and the U.S. Navy is fully cooperating with authorities in Okinawa as they continue their investigation.”

Little added that officials soon will announce a package of measures to ensure responsible behavior and to demonstrate the Defense Department’s commitment to maintaining positive relationships with the local communities that host U.S. forces.

Wisconsin Air National Guard's first female general officer retires

October 18, 2012
By Maj. Scott Lieburn
Wisconsin National Guard

The first woman to serve in the rank of general in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Margaret H. Bair retired on Sept. 30, after 32 years in uniform. 

"General Bair would brighten every meeting and room she walked into," said Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, who presided over her official retirement ceremony. "She would make all of us smile and helped us realize that there is always a solution to every problem." 

Bair joined the active duty Air Force in 1976, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant through direct appointment as a registered nurse. During her first five years of active duty she served as a nurse at Air Force base hospitals in Maryland, Japan and Arizona. 

"She was a true traditional Guardsperson who worked in the civilian sector during her time in the Wisconsin National Guard," McCoy said. "She consistently came in to answer the call of duty time and time again."
Most recently, Bair served as the chief of staff for the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 2,300 men and women, including a headquarters staff in Madison and four major commands - 115th Fighter Wing, 128th Air Refueling Wing, 128th Air Control Squadron and the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center. 

In this role, she also directed the Headquarters Air Staff and served as principal advisor to the Wisconsin Air National Guard commander regarding the administration, operation, training, tactical employment, maintenance and supply of all Air National Guard units within the state. 

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, said it was an honor to serve with Bair.
"Peg and I served together at the 128th Air Refueling Wing, where she commanded the Medical Group, and at state headquarters over the past years," Dunbar said. "She is an officer of unquestioned character, integrity and vision. She is my friend and I will miss her. Peg departs after a distinguished career, leaving the Wisconsin Air National Guard at a pinnacle of readiness and quality." 

When Bair initially joined the military she had only two goals in mind. "I wanted to be a flight nurse and have fun and travel," she said. As she progressed through the Air Force Reserve and the Montana Air National Guard, her new goal was to make the rank of lieutenant colonel and retire after 20 years. In the end, she retired as a one-star general. 

Prior to joining Headquarters she served in the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee. She became the commander of the 128th Medical Squadron in January of 2000. In 2005, she assumed command of the 128th Medical Group. 

In 2009, Bair was promoted to brigadier general. She was the first woman in the Wisconsin Air National Guard to be promoted to that rank. 

While reflecting upon the legacy she would leave, Bair said, "We don't get here by ourselves. I have come to believe that the seeds of success are planted within each of us but it is the people around us that make those seeds grow." Referring to her family, friends and fellow service members in the audience, she said. "You have all helped me grow and have brought me to this point in my life." 

With the new time found through her retirement she plans on doing a lot of traveling and skiing.
Bair is employed at Mercy Walworth Hospital and Medical Center and resides in Fontana, Wis.

Army Releases September Suicide Data



The Army released suicide data today for the month of September.  During September, among active-duty soldiers, there were 15 potential suicides:  one has been confirmed as suicide and 14 remain under investigation.  For August, the Army reported 16 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers.  Since the release of that report, one case was removed for a total of 15 cases: five have been confirmed as suicides and 10 remain under investigation.  For 2012, there have been 146 potential active-duty suicides:  91 have been confirmed as suicides and 55 remain under investigation.  Active-duty suicide number for 2011: 165 confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation.  

During September, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 16 potential suicides (13 Army National Guard and three Army Reserve):  one has been confirmed as suicide and 15 remain under investigation.  For August, among that same group, the Army reported nine potential suicides.  Since the release of that report two cases were added for a total of 11 cases (seven Army National Guard and four Army Reserve):  five have been confirmed as suicides and six remain under investigation.

For 2012, there have been 101 potential not on active-duty suicides (67 Army National Guard and 34 Army Reserve):  67 have been confirmed as suicides and 34 remain under investigation.  Not on active-duty suicide numbers for 2011:  118 (82 Army National Guard and 36 Army Reserve) confirmed as suicides and no cases under investigation.

“Every suicide in our ranks is a tragic loss for the Army family, adversely affecting the readiness of our Army," said Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.  “I am asking soldiers, family members, department of the Army civilians, neighbors, and friends to look out for each other and reach out and embrace those who may be struggling.  Recognize the warning signs such as substance abuse, relationship problems, and withdrawal from friends and activities and use available resources to help yourself or others.  Our actions can save lives.”

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Trained consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can be contacted by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org . 

Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/r600_63.pdf and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_24.pdf .

The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.preventsuicide.army.mil .

Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

Information about Military OneSource is located at http://www.militaryonesource.com or by dialing the toll-free number 1-800-342-9647 for those residing in the continental United States.  Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource website for dialing instructions for their specific location.

Information about the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/ .

The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at Resources@DCoEOutreach.org and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil .

The website for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is http://www.afsp.org/ and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is found at http://www.sprc.org/index.asp .

Justice Department Files Complaint Against Warren County, North Carolina, Board of Education for Violating the Employment Rights of an Army Reserve Sergeant

The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced today the filing of a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the Warren County, N.C., Board of Education for violating the employment rights of Army Reserve Sergeant Dwayne Coffer under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA).
 
The department’s complaint alleges that the Warren County Board of Education willfully violated USERRA by not renewing Coffer’s employment because of his military service obligations.  Coffer is a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army Reserve.  He has served in the Army Reserve for over 20 years.  In addition to other periods of service, he served in Kuwait and Afghanistan from February 2004 to February 2005.  Coffer worked at Warren County High School as an Assistant Principal while he was in the Army Reserve.  During his employment with the Warren County Board of Education, Coffer took periodic leave from work to fulfill his military obligations with the Army Reserve.  According to the Justice Department’s complaint, on April 25, 2008, the board voted not to renew Coffer’s contract as an assistant principal after staff members expressed frustration at his performing military service during the school year. 
 
Coffer initially filed a complaint with the Labor Department’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, which investigated the matter, determined that the complaint had merit, and referred the matter to the Justice Department.  The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina subsequently decided to represent Coffer in this matter and filed this lawsuit on his behalf. 
 
USERRA prohibits employers from discriminating against Army Reserve soldiers, such as Coffer, with respect to employment opportunities based on their past, current or future uniformed service obligations.  Under USERRA, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee because he has to miss work due to military obligations.
 
Among other things, the suit seeks compensation for Coffer’s lost wages and benefits, liquidated damages and reinstatement of Coffer’s employment with the Board of Education.
           
“Our dedicated military men and women should not have to choose between serving their county as reservists and keeping their civilian jobs,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “The Civil Rights Division is committed to USERRA enforcement and will take all appropriate and necessary action to vigorously protect reservists from unlawful discrimination in the workplace.”  
 
“In serving our country, members of the Army Reserve sacrifice time away from their families and from their jobs.  They are willing to risk their lives to protect the freedoms we hold dear,” said U.S. Attorney Walker.  “We will use all of USERRA’s tools to protect the employment rights of those in uniform.” 
 
This case is being handled by the Employment Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  
 

Ghosts, goblins and ghouls: here come the tricks

by Natalie Eslinger
Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Halloween is just around the corner. Everyone, young and old, is getting ready. Choosing costumes, buying treats, decorating and party-planning are all part of the preparations. This year is no different than any other; the best way to enjoy all the activities is to keep your focus on safety.

The Centers for Disease Control offer some great tips below for parents and trick-or-treaters. Take a few minutes to review the list with the entire family. Work as a team to check off each tip before and during your evening of trick-or-treating.

Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house.
Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult.
Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Those planning to host Halloween parties should be equally cautious, especially with the use of candles. Candles provide the right atmosphere, but can be dangerous if they're too close to anything flammable. Because guests are likely to be in costumes, check all doorways and stairways to make sure they are clear and accessible.

Lastly, take the same precautions you would take for any event, such as: ensure there are designated drivers, offer non-alcoholic beverages, have plenty of food available and know the phone number for a taxi service.

Halloween is a fun time to spend with family and friends. Enjoy it, and watch out for those ghosts, goblins and ghouls.

(See http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween for more Halloween safety tips)

U.S. Open to Thais Inviting Burma to Observe Cobra Gold

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2012 – The United States is open to considering a Thai request to allow a small contingent of Burmese military officers to attend the joint exercise Cobra Gold 2013 as observers, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Thailand hosts the military exercise and in consultation with the United States will make the decision on whether to invite up to three Burmese officers to observe portions of the annual event.
If the invitation is extended, the Burmese observers will only participate in the humanitarian assistance/disaster response and military medical portions of the exercise.

Cobra Gold is a Thai-led exercise and is the largest Asia-based military exercise the United States participates in. Around 6,900 U.S. service members participated in Cobra Gold 2012 held in February.
There are two set of observers. The first is called multinational planning augmentation teams and include nations such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The second category of observers consists of coalition observer liaison teams, and this would include Burma. This past year, coalition observer liaison teams came from Brunei, China, the Netherlands, Laos, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.

The Burmese government has opened up over the past year. As part of a larger U.S. government effort, DOD representatives were part of a State Department-led visit to Burma earlier this month.
“That mission was focused primarily on human rights dialogue with the Burmese,” Little said. “We’re exploring opportunities to discuss a range of issues with the government of Burma.”

SERE specialist trains Airmen to survive during Pacific Thunder

by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
18th Wing Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Most Airmen from the 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons know Tech. Sgt. Bobby Colliton as their resident "SERE guy," but others may think he's the host of Man vs. Wild, or in this case, Air-Man vs. Wild.

For nearly three years, Colliton has worked as one of the few Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

As a SERE specialist, Colliton works primarily with 18th Operations Group aircrew to keep them up-to-date on different training requirements such as: conduct for capture, water survival and combat survival training.

Although Colliton works with Airmen from all over Kadena, he has built a close relationship with 31st and 33rd RQS Airmen due to their related personnel recovery mission set - which brought them all to Exercise Pacific Thunder 2012 at Osan Air Base.

During the two-week exercise, Colliton has had a number of opportunities to conduct training like combat survival training and specific combat search and rescue training scenarios.

Colliton said he basically has to take the 19-Day SERE course that he once taught and cram it into a few hours to refresh the Airmen's ability to survive and get recovered if their aircraft went down in hostile territory.

Specific things that Colliton teaches in the SERE classroom and in refresher training courses includes: camouflage and evasion techniques, radio training and how to survive on an "organic" plant and insect diet, for example, by eating an entire rose.

Before he dedicated himself as a SERE specialist, Colliton served as an Army airborne infantryman and he continues to be a static line jump master.

Colliton said he enjoys his job not only because he's able to share the confidence to survive with his students. Being that the Air Force is the only service with SERE specialists, Colliton said his job is rarely unappreciated by the people who actually understand what he does.

"My favorite part about doing this job is definitely teaching," Colliton said. "I feel very passionate that if something were to happen to any of my students they need to know what to do. So if I tell them the wrong information or they're not paying attention, something really bad could happen to them if something were to happen for real."
Members of the 33rd RQS work with Colliton at Kadena on a daily basis and have even deployed with him to Afghanistan.

"(Colliton) is very passionate and motivated about his job, he has so much initiative, and he's incredibly competent about his mission," said Lt. Col. Pete Ortiz, 33rd RQS director of operations. "He's the best SERE specialist I've ever had the privilege to work with."

Black Eagles feature Republic of Korea's air capabilities

by Staff Sgt. Stefanie Torres
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Just like the Thunderbirds are to the U.S. Air Force, the Black Eagles dominate the skies as the Republic of Korea Air Force's premiere demonstration team.

The Black Eagles perform eight-ship aerial maneuvers throughout Korea and performed overseas for the first time this year in the United Kingdom.

"This is the only special flying team in Korea," said 1st Lt. Lok Cha Young, 239th Special Squadron Public Affairs officer. "The Black Eagles specialize in air shows showcasing the capabilities of the pilots and aircraft to the entire nation."

Doubling their practices for Osan's Air Power Day Oct. 20-21, the team performs up to 30 different types of acrobatics using T-50B training aircraft with supersonic capabilities.
"There is only one team, the Black Eagles, that operate all of their training jets made by their own country," said Young. "They are very dynamic and fantastic."

Showcasing flying capabilities is important to the Republic of Korea, explained Maj. Wookcheon Jeon, Black Eagles team lead. Not only does it promote the strong air power capabilities of the ROK, but it shows that they are also friendly to the nation.

"I am proud of myself for making the ROKAF better," said Jeon. "People may not fully understand what the ROKAF is doing out here so we want to promote a friendly image and show them what we can do."

The team can also garner the attention of future flyers, he explained.

"I'm proud that people want to become members," said Jeon. "We are giving little children hopes and dreams. I think it's very honorable and it represents the Air Force. I am proud when I see the crowd's reaction."

The Black Eagles represent the ROKAF and only the top pilots are selected through a rigorous process, Young explained. They must have graduated in the top third of their class in both basic and advanced flight training and only those with more than 800 flight hours. This process is followed by a series of interviews and discussions. As a final step, each potential candidate must receive unanimous approval from all current Black Eagle team members.

The ROKAF established its first aerobatic team in 1953, flying four F-51 Mustangs until 1958. Four years later, ROKAF formed the Blue Sabre aerobatic team, flying four specially painted F-86 Sabre fighters. The team traded F86s for F-5As beginning with the 1978 air show season.

The Black Eagles were designated as the official aerobatic team of ROKAF in December of 1994. Their first demonstration took place on Sept. 25, 1995. While based with the 238th Squadron from 8th Squadron Wing at Wonju Air Base, the team flew six Cessna A-37B Dragonfly light-attack planes throughout the 2007 show season.

Fighting fires side by side

by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Whether Wolf Pack firefighters are climbing stairs in a smoke-filled house or running toward a flaming aircraft, they want to know the men at their sides have their backs.

In a crisis like a fire, it's critical to make swift decisions without hesitation. Joint training with the Republic of Korea Air Force Oct. 14 gave both sides a chance to work on fire-fighting techniques while also working to overcome the language barrier.

"Your weakest link will affect how you train and react to situations," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Murphy, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of training. "Some of the hand signals we use are universal, but we're working all the time to communicate more completely. It's already come so far from when I was first here in 2004."

The ROKAF 38th Fighter Group and 8th CES were able to run through several scenarios involving the four-story structural fire trainer and the aircraft trainer, which resembles the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

While in the structural trainer, two-man teams of one Korean and one American took turns practicing their primary and secondary search skills, as well as basic firefighting. Effectively fighting the aircraft fire required them to pay attention to every detail, starting with where they parked the truck when initially responding.

Although the American firefighters receive training while going through the 68-day technical training school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, it's new ground for young Korean firefighters.

"The training is very hard and I'm very tired, but it's effective," said ROKAF Senior Airman Kim Min Soo, who underwent the training for the first time. "The hardest part was learning the proper way to carry the 160-pound dummy down from the second floor. I want to do more training like this in the future."

The units are planning to begin monthly joint training to make even more progress toward a relationship that requires a high level of trust.

"Overall, the training went very well. Everyone understood the objectives and achieved them," said Murphy. "The more we train together, the more things will become second nature to all of us. We need to be able to operate well together while rescuing people and extinguishing the fire."

Osan's fighter squadron gives back to Singapore

by Lt. Col. Jack Harman
51st Fighter Wing Chief of Safety


10/19/2012 - Paya Lebar Republic of Singapore Air Base -- Airmen from the 36th Fighter Squadron, from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, teamed up with the Republic of Singapore for a combined exercise designed to sharpen air combat skills, but also found time on the ground to raise more than $9,000 for the visually handicapped Oct. 13, 2012.

The 36th FS is currently deployed to Paya Lebar Republic of Singapore Air Base to participate in Exercise Commando Sling, an annual training exercise for U.S. and Republic of Singapore Air Force units that improve operations at non-U.S. bases, and promote closer relations between U.S. Air Force and RSAF Airmen.

However, when not participating in the exercise, Osan Airmen dedicated time to raise money and build relationships with the local community, explained Lt. Col. Jason Cockrum, 36th FS commander. Guided by team leaders, Senior Airman Candice Griffin, Staff Sgt. Trevor Bell and Airman 1st Class Mark Morris, the 'Fiends' were able to work with the Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped, the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home, and Blind Faith during International White Cane Day to raise money and strengthen the relationships with the country.

"Forty-three U.S. military members volunteered 336 hours to the event," said Harman, the 36th FS event organizer. "However, the true measure of the 36th FS contribution rests not in the numbers, but in the connections made between service members and local citizens. Squadron members assisted visually handicapped persons, assisted with game stalls, and created balloon sculptures with children from the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home."

White Cane Day is an annual international event honoring the spirit of those who are blind or have limited vision. Singapore celebrated the event with a carnival and festivities that included singing, entertainment, game stalls, balloon animals, as well as the sale of handicrafts and plants.

Squadron members also participated in activities designed to increase visually impaired awareness, directed traffic, assisted in sales and clean-up post festivities, Harman explained. Capt. Tyler Smith, Staff Sgt. Cody Martin, and Senior Airman Josh Frye assisted visually handicapped persons and served as excellent U.S. Air Force role models. Airman 1st Class Mark Morris and Senior Airman Francisco Lara created balloon sculptures alongside disadvantaged children from the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children's Home.

"The mission of the 36th Fighter Squadron, whether at home with our Korean allies or deployed to enhance our partnership with Singapore, is to support United States objectives with military means," Harman explained. "Occasionally, this translates to military members utilizing their free time to interact with the local population. For the 36th FS, that interaction led to an improved understanding of the Singapore community, greater appreciation for our visually handicapped and strengthened relations with a strategic partner."

"We had an amazing experience here," said Cockrum. "The Fiends even brought a taste of America to the event with donated muffins, apples, and Texas chicken."

Maintainers prop up change: Royal Thai Air Force flies again

by Tech Sgt. Brian Ferguson
JBER Public Affairs


10/18/2012 - JONIT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Red Flag-Alaska is designed to test crews during a simulated multi-nation combat operation, pushing Airmen from all over the world to overcome obstacles and work as one cohesive unit.

So, when a C-130 Hercules aircraft from the Royal Thai Air Force had a maintenance problem, it was all hands on deck.

"They asked us to come out because they thought they had a propeller leak and wanted to make sure," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Flariel Nostratis, an aerospace propulsion mechanic. "They have their own maintainers, and they know their job, but this was something they probably don't do everyday."

Because the plane belonged to Thailand, maintainers from the 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, deployed here from the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, could not physically work on the aircraft. However, they were able to
help.

"We were out there watching them, giving them advice on what they needed to check," Nostratis said. "The maintenance books for our C-130 and a Thai C-130 should be the same, just in a different language."

A propeller leak is a hydraulic leak within the prop. Nostratis, a Riverside, Calif., native, said that minor leaks are normal and okay, as long as they are within limits.

Once the leak was traced to the propeller, the Thai maintainers made the decision to change it, however, they did not have a spare with them in Alaska, and ordering one would take weeks.

"The decision to help them was a no-brainer," said Air Force Lt. Col. James Hackbarth, 36th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron detachment commander. "We had an extra prop that we brought with us from Yokota."

Working with Pacific Air Forces, the Air Force Security Assistance Center and the Red Flag-Alaska staff, the U.S. Air Force was able to transfer the propeller to the RTAF through foreign military sales, cutting the wait to just two days.

"It's important for us to be able to help our partner nations and our allies be more combat effective and get the training they are coming here for," Hackbarth said. "So by supporting them and working with them on this issue, we have allowed them to be more effective and allowed them to fly in the exercise sooner than if they had to wait on a new prop to be shipped."

Airman 1st Class Patrick Barnicle and Nostratis were on hand during the propeller change.

"We wanted to make sure the Thai maintainers had all the assets available to them for the change," Nostratis said. "Aside from a few words of advice during the removal, it went very smoothly.

The change took the Thai maintainers about five hours to complete.

RTAF Flight Lt. Tanarat Wongwenai, lead Thai maintenance officer at Red Flag, said through an interpreter that it actually takes longer in Thailand to change a prop.

"We were able to use one of the hangars here that had a crane, making replacing the prop so much easier," he said.

The U.S. and Thailand have been participating in exercises together for years. Along with Red Flag-Alaska, the U.S. routinely travels to Thailand to participate in exercises Cope Tiger and Cobra Gold.

"The fact that we are able to work together only strengthens what we are able to do in future engagements and future contingencies," Hackbarth said. "There may be a situation where we are in Thailand and we require some support from our Thai allies."
The propeller change was a success and the RTAF was able to fly the next day.

"The U.S. maintainers who came to advise didn't feel like foreigners," Wongwenai said. "It felt like they were our brothers in the C-130 maintenance world. They just happened to have changed more propellers than we have."

Keeping KC-135s flying high

by Airman 1st Class Victor J. Caputo
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/19/2012 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan.  -- The first of 17 upgraded KC-135 Stratotankers landed at McConnell for routine maintenance Oct. 16, 2012.

This KC-135 features Block 45 upgrades which are designed to modernize the decades-old aircraft and improve its life expectancy.

"The goal is to keep the planes non-obsolete, relevant and legal to fly," said Maj. Chris Brockman, 22nd Operations Support Squadron operations support training deputy chief. "We're trying to future-proof these planes."

The upgrades include a liquid crystal display screen in the cockpit in place of older gauges on the instrumentation panel and a new autopilot function. The gauges used in current KC-135s are becoming more difficult to find and too expensive to purchase, said Brockman.

The switch from analog gauges to a digital display will also affect aircraft maintenance and repairs.

"As far as maintenance is concerned, the change to analog makes my job easier," said Tech. Sgt. King Sanders, 22nd Air Maintenance Squadron instruments flight controls lead technician. "It also replaces close to 10 other systems with one central computer."

These changes will ensure that Airmen in Sanders' and the communication and navigation fields can do their job efficiently.

"As a maintainer, it's kind of a blessing in disguise," said Sanders.

The planes undergo Block 45 upgrades in Oklahoma before transferring to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for testing. Each of these aircraft must fly to McConnell for yearly inspections regardless of their home station. The next upgraded KC-135 arrives for the inspections in November.

Before the 17 planes can leave the testing phase and join their operational counterparts in mid-2013, more than 60 pilots will complete initial training and then begin instructing other pilots on the new features.

A Block 45 KC-135 simulator will also be developed as a training tool.

This is the latest in a series of upgrades on the KC-135. Block 20 replaced much of the original instrumentation with 1980's-era technology into the planes while Block 30 improved automation. Block 40 allowed satellite interaction in the previous modernization update.

These constant upgrades and updates help ensure that McConnell, which will eventually house all 17 planes, will keep the KC-135 flying through 2040.