Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cadet, cancer patient realizes dream of flying through Rescue Wing

by Tech. Sgt. Peter Dean
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2013 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- In between chemotherapy treatments a 16-year-old Air Force Junior ROTC student joined the Air Force Reserve Command's 920th Rescue Wing for the thrill of flight.

"Absolutely amazing, best thing I've done in a long time," Coleton Wells said as he disembarked from one of the 920th RQW's HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters.

Zachary Kalish, Wells' best friend and also a Junior Air Force ROTC student at Vero Beach High School, Fla., saw firsthand the suffering his friend was going through and wanted to make a difference.

"Coleton's dream is to become an Air Force pilot, and with his sickness ... I wanted him to at least experience a flight in a military aircraft," Kalish said. "We've been best friends for years; it's the least I could do."

Kalish hit a few roadblocks along the way, but that didn't deter the determined cadet.

"I contacted Air Force recruiting and was turned down, I then asked my (ROTC) commander and chief for advice, and they said they hadn't heard of a program that would allow this," Kalish said. "I then decided to call the 920th direct."

Kalish's persistence paid off, on the other end of the line was Ms. DeAnn Houck, executive assistant, 920th RQW, who set up the day.

"I feel anyone's life that is touched by cancer is challenged in a way others can't imagine," Houck said. "If we can give a young cancer patient a day of joy and wishes come true, what a gift we've given to them and their family."

The cadet's day started just like any other Air Force flight crew member. After a mission brief, the cadets were escorted to the aircrew flight equipment section where they were outfitted with flight vests, helmets and floatation devices. The 45-minute flight plan took the cadets north, giving them a bird's eye view of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the surrounding area.

"It was totally awesome, I wish I had a flight every day," Kalish said.

"I have stage 4 cancer which is highly aggressive, which is a good thing ... chemo eats it up pretty quick," Wells said. "The chemo after six weeks had eaten it in half."

Sarcomas are cancers that develop from connective tissues in the body, such as muscles, fat, bones, membranes that line the joints, or blood vessels. There are many types of sarcomas. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles.

Even after the adrenaline of flight has long worn off the memories of the day will stick with the cadets for years to come.

"This meant everything to me, all my life I've wanted to spend 20 some-odd-years flying or serving in the U.S. Air Force, it's something I've always wanted to do," Wells said. "To be able come out here today and get geared up, fly in a helicopter and see what you guys do is phenomenal."

Not only will Wells remember his day with the 920th RQW for a long time to come, but the actions of his best friend will forever be engrained in his heart.

"What Zach did for me today was amazing; I was at a loss for words when I found out he was calling you guys," Wells said. "When you're on this side of the cancer, your mind is so locked on getting it done; you forget about what people do for you ... this was eye opening."

Also touched were the many Airmen of the 920th RQW that played a role in setting up the day or had the pleasure to meet Wells and Kalish.

"The real one who started this whole thing is Zack. He is the epitome of a true friend and wanted to give Coleton something he didn't know was within his reach," Houck said. "I saw tears in the eyes of our senior leaders that day. Coleton and Zack's friendship touched us all."

Editor's note: Coleton is very positive that his chemotherapy is on track and will win this battle. Air Force regulations allow for the cadets to fly on a local training mission at no additional cost to the tax payer due to their affiliation with the Air Force Junior ROTC program.

Intelligence flight takes trip to 'petting zoo'

by Senior Airman Heather Hayward
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- When most units arrive to participate in Red Flag 13-2, they usually begin by setting up their temporary workstations and finding appropriate lodging in preparation to participate in a unique training exercise.

However, Airmen from the 366th Operations Support Squadron decided to jump right into training and visit the Threat Training Facility.

The facility allows Airmen the unusual freedom to handle and even sit inside equipment which has led to it being nicknamed, "The Petting Zoo."

"The ability to have a hands-on experience provides a better training environment, because the Airmen are able to see the equipment they work with in person," said Capt. Dean Smith, 366th OSS intelligence flight commander. "It's easy to talk about a subject or a threat and maybe even show pictures, but when we can put our hands on it and see it up close, it gives us a better appreciation for the training we have had."

The facility determines the capabilities and shortcomings of enemy weapon systems, with the primary focus on enemy aircraft, anti-aircraft systems and tanks.

"We learn about a lot of these different systems at work but we don't actually get to go see them and see how big they are and what they look like compared to a jet or flying at someone," said Senior Airman Anthony Werner, 366th OSS operations intelligence journeyman. "Being able to be hands-on gives me a better idea of how things operate."

The Airmen of the intelligence flight are responsible for identifying and providing threat data as well as targets.

"I would gauge Red Flag as a very integral and critical portion to our unit's training and our ability to effectively overcome different challenges," Smith said. "I think it's very beneficial for our coalition partners to participate. It gives them a good chance to see how we as the United States execute tactics in our operations."

Projecting capability, Alaska F-22s 'drop' in on Combat Hammer, Archer

by 1st Lt. Matthew Chism

1/25/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- During the December Combat Hammer and Archer exercises at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., active duty and Reserve F-22 pilots were able to employ weapons on ground and air targets using the Increment 3.1 upgrade.

Combat Hammer, a weapons system evaluation program sponsored by the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron, and Combat Archer, an air-to-air evaluation run by the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, provided the opportunity for the 525th Fighter Squadron and the Reserve 302nd FS to train in a realistic tactical training environment.

Before the Increment 3.1 upgrade pilots relied on outside sources to locate ground targets and provide coordinates before dropping a weapon on the ground. The upgraded Raptor's can use their Synthetic Aperture Radar to map targets on the ground.

"The Increment 3.1 upgrade gives us the ability to self-generate coordinates from our SAR maps, which at this time is unique to Alaskan Raptors," said Capt. Graham Stewart, a pilot and flight commander with the 525th FS. "This upgrade vastly increases our air-to-ground capabilities."

The 12 F-22s from the 525th FS making the flight were supported by more than 160 Airmen from the 3rd Wing and the Reserve 477th Fighter Group. The team employed 15 missiles, 11 small-diameter bombs and eight Joint Direct Attack Munitions during the exercises.

"Combat Hammer and Archer provides a unique opportunity for our pilots," said Lt. Col. Brett Paola, the 302nd Fighter Squadron commander. "The training gave them the opportunity to drop the SDB and shoot missiles in a real world training environment. The ranges around Tyndall Air Force Base are one of the only places that we are able to employ in this fashion."

This training event allowed for Total Force Integration across the F-22 fleet. The 525th Fighter Squadron led a Total Force team from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Pilots from both the 525th and the 302nd Fighter Squadrons and maintainers from the 3rd Maintenance Group and the 477th Fighter Group filled the deployment roster making it a true total force effort from Alaska.

"We needed every person to make the mission happen," Stewart said. "It also increases our squadron's relationships, because we have the opportunity to work together so much more on these temporary duty assignments."

Exercises like this are critical to squadron readiness because it allows the unit to practice actual weapons loading, preflight, and employment. In addition, they validate that the aircraft are ready to employ their new Increment 3.1 capability.

"For many of our pilots it was our first time shooting a missile or dropping a bomb with the new system," Stewart said. "In less than two weeks each pilot had an opportunity to shoot a missile, drop a bomb, and shoot the gun."

U.S. Army Medicine Civilian Corps Kicks off 2013 Recruitment Efforts with Online Behavioral Health Career Fair

Jan. 28, 2013 – Fort Hood, Texas – The Civilian Corps of the United States Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) launches an online career fair Monday, Jan. 28 through Friday, Feb. 1, to recruit for behavioral health professionals at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC) and other locations nationwide. Through the online career fair, the CRDAMC Behavioral Health Department located at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas is ramping up its efforts to establish additional Embedded Behavioral Health (EBH) teams to provide quality and timely care to military personnel, beneficiaries and their families.

“The Embedded Behavioral Health model revolutionizes care delivery and is a very forward and preventative approach to care,” says Sharette K. Gray, MD, LTC(P), MC, Chief, Behavioral Health, CRDAMC. The EBH model establishes a close knit team of seven provider staff – including one psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner, three psychologists and three social workers – along with six administrative staff to provide both routine, clinical treatment as well as outreach treatment to a specific unit. Through the intimate nature of the EBH model, providers are able to gain insight as to what they need to work on with the specific unit and what kind of advice they can give commanders by getting to know the unit in a non-clinical setting.

“Each Embedded Behavioral Health team is small enough to become a cohesive unit and at the same time, people enjoy the job satisfaction of being able to form relationships with soldiers and see progress,” notes LTC(P) Gray. “We have found that soldiers do really well with having a designated team of providers embedded within their unit. It allows for greater care and decreases the stigma of behavioral health care being foreign and inaccessible for soldiers.”

The interactive online career fair will be hosted at www.civilianmedicaljobs.com/webfair. Interested individuals have the opportunity to apply online and post their resumes, submit questions and receive feedback from career consultants and learn more about rewarding career opportunities and the exceptional benefits of working with the Civilian Corps.

“MEDCOM is dedicated to staffing our medical treatment facilities worldwide with the most qualified professionals to provide excellent health care to military personnel, beneficiaries and their families,” says Dr. Joseph Harrison, Chief, Recruitment and Retention, Headquarters U.S. Army Medical Command, Civilian Human Resources Division. “The behavioral health online career fair for the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center is part of our 2013 recruitment efforts that will ultimately lead to greater access to qualified behavioral health providers for our military community.”

The Army Medicine Civilian Corps provides exceptionally rewarding career opportunities for civilians to practice their medical specialty while serving those who serve their country. Civilian Corps employees are not subject to military requirements, such as enlistment or deployment, and receive exceptional benefits, including health and life insurance, flexible work schedules, state-of-the-art training and equipment, tuition reimbursement and more.

All press inquiries and interview requests should be directed to Jackie Fennington at (540) 370-0030 or jackief@agencymabu.com. To learn more about the Civilian Corps, visit www.civilianmedicaljobs.com.

Goodwill® and Bank of America Charitable Foundation Invest in Veterans

New Program Provides Military Veterans and Their Families with Education and Job Resources

ROCKVILLE, MD — Goodwill Industries International is launching a new initiative, with the support of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, to help military veterans and their families connect with the education, training and support services they need to succeed on the homefront. Vested in Veterans will build on existing Goodwill programs — including Goodwill for America’s Heroes and Their Families and Community College/Career Collaboration (C4) — to create a holistic support system that helps veterans and their families in four communities secure educational opportunities, find jobs and build their careers. These communities include Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

Today’s returning veterans face a unique array of challenges. More than a million military servicemen and women are expected to leave behind their uniforms and return to civilian life in the next five years, and a stubbornly bleak job market translates to high unemployment for veterans. In addition, veterans and their families are frequently relocated, making it difficult for them to build credentials and careers. These challenges are further amplified when veterans have service-related physical disabilities or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Take Edward, for example. He had years of teaching, marketing and management experience in addition to four years in the military and five years in the reserves when he was laid off from a teaching position in Los Angeles. Arlington was unemployed for eight months until he was contacted by the Metro North WorkSource Center through the Department of Labor’s Rapid Response program through Goodwill. After an interview, he was approved to receive case management, intensive services, training and supportive services.

As he worked on his Individual Employment Plan, Arlington noted he’d like to gain another teaching credential that is in higher demand among employers. He enrolled in the math and science cohort with California State University of Los Angeles and completed the training in June 2012. He obtained his single subject science teaching credential in August 2012. LAUSD rehired Arlington into a full-time position. He still receives supportive services to ensure a successful transition back into the work force.

“We owe it to every one of our veterans and their family members to provide them with the tools they need to advance beyond their military careers and connect them with employers who understand the value of their military experience, so they can succeed at work and at home,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Through Vested in Veterans, we will enable veterans and military family members to focus on their careers and financial goals, and create a roadmap for successful civilian careers.”

Each participant in the Vested in Veterans program will receive an individualized career and financial plan designed to support a comprehensive set of personal goals related to employment, finances, assets, leadership and service. Participants will be connected to community college courses, job search and placement services, and career development tools designed to ensure long-term financial and professional success.

“Bank of America’s investment in Goodwill is just one of the ways we are helping individuals, including returning military, access the education and training they need to access jobs and build better financial futures,” said Kerry Sullivan, president, Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “We’re honored to recognize the sacrifice and leadership of our military members, veterans and their families through longstanding support and pleased to partner with Goodwill as part of our ongoing commitment to improve local economies.”

Goodwill Industries of North Georgia, Goodwill Houston, Goodwill Southern California, and Goodwill of San Antonio were chosen based on their impact and their relationships with the community. Bank of America Corp. currently serves two million active and veteran military households across the U.S. and employs nearly 6,000 reservist and veteran service members.

About Goodwill Industries International
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of the top 25 most inspiring companies (Forbes, 2012). Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,700 stores and online at shopgoodwill.com. Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2011, more than 4 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill's career services. Goodwill channels 82 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at www.goodwill.org, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl or find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

Bank of America Corporate Social Responsibility Bank of America’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic part of doing business globally. Our CSR efforts guide how we operate in a socially, economically, financially and environmentally responsible way around the world, to deliver for shareholders, customers, clients and employees. Our goal is to help create economically vibrant regions and communities through lending, investing and giving. By partnering with our stakeholders, we create value that empowers individuals and communities to thrive and contributes to the long-term success of our business. We have several core areas of focus for our CSR, including responsible business practices; environmental sustainability; strengthening local communities with a focus on housing, hunger and jobs; investing in global leadership development; and engaging through arts and culture. As part of these efforts, employee volunteers across the company contribute their time, passion and expertise to address issues in communities where they live and work.  Learn more at www.bankofamerica.com/about and follow us on Twitter at @BofA_Community.

Reserve F-22 pilot flies son's letter to fallen Soldier father

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

1/25/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF RICHARDSON, Alaska -- MacAidan "Mac" Gallegos was only 5 when his father, Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Not a day goes by that he doesn't think about him. On days like Jan. 24, his father's 31st birthday, he has found a special way to celebrate his birthday and honor his memory.

"I wanted to write my dad a letter and get it as close to heaven as possible," said Mac.

Mac and his mother Amanda Marr discussed ways to get the letter to heaven but ultimately decided that having someone fly it would be the best.

"I posted on Facebook that we were looking for a pilot who could fly the letter for Mac," said Marr. "Kyle Moxley from HAVE Alaska contacted me and said he would coordinate and try to make it happen."

Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska, or HAVE Alaska, was stood up in 2010 by Moxley and his wife Carla to provide opportunities for Veterans to experience hunting and fishing excursions in Alaska.

A few emails and phone calls later Mac, his mother and his step-father, Army Master Sgt. Jeremy Marr, were meeting Senior Airman Jennifer Dunham, 90th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief who gave them a tour of the Raptor.

Before stepping to fly Lt. Col. Brian Baldwin, a Reserve F-22 pilot assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron, met Mac at his F-22 where the little boy handed over the letter to his father written on red construction paper, his dad's favorite color.

"It is an honor to fly with Mac's letter," said Baldwin. "His father gave the greatest sacrifice to our country and I am humbled to be able to do something for him and his family."

Mac and his family have baked cupcakes and said they look forward to taking time out to remember Gallegos on his birthday.

"Over the years we would have a party for Justin on his birthday," said Marr, who grew up in Palmer, Alaska but now resides in Anchorage. "As Mac has gotten older we have turned it into a day where we do "Acts of Service" for others. It is important for us to remember Justin and celebrate his life."

Jewish War Veterans Come Together to Help Veterans Village Las Vegas

Veterans Village Las Vegas, is a comprehensive housing and resource facility for U.S. veterans and their families and located in a repurposed Econo Lodge motel on Las Vegas Boulevard, has a new support group – more than 60 members of the Jewish War Veterans Murray L. Rosen Post 64. According to Senior Vice Commander Steve Seiden, the group recently signed a Memo of Understanding with Veterans Village to establish a formal working relationship.  The group’s Edward Kline Memorial Homeless Veterans Fund, Inc. will underwrite housing at Veterans Village, as its funds allow, for vets and their families who need temporary housing and other critical services.

“Our group, which is comprised primarily of war veterans who served in all conflicts since WWII, developed an Independence Day Program several years ago to help find housing for homeless vets and their families,” Seiden said.  “But given limited resources in the community, particularly for disabled veterans with families, we could only do so much. As we formulated a plan to enlarge our scope and our efforts, we became aware of Veterans Village. Ever since our first visit to Veterans Village, we have been meeting regularly with its founder, Arnold Stalk, and directing much of our efforts and donations to supporting this remarkable public/private partnership that does so much to help those who have defended our freedoms.”   

Seiden, who also serves as president of the Edward Kline Memorial Homeless Veterans Fund, Inc., formerly referred to as the Independence Day Program, says most of its members are between 65 and 80 years of age with a few in their 90s, but the group also has younger members who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.  “We are actively recruiting younger members who share our passion for helping veterans and to continue our good work for years to come,” Seiden said. 

Veterans Village opened in 2012 in a renovated Econo Lodge Motel with 120 rooms.  Thanks to the ongoing generosity of the Home Depot Foundation and hundreds of hours provided by Home Depot employees, the facility is undergoing a comprehensive retrofit and update.   In addition to providing temporary housing for vets and their families, Veterans Village provides a comprehensive roster of services through partnerships with other community organizations and government agencies, including employment training and referrals, continuing education and degree programs, exercise training, medical services, mental health counseling and special veteran-centric activities and events.

According to Arnold Stalk, Veterans Village founder and visionary, the contributions of the Jewish War Veterans are especially meaningful.  “The group’s deep understanding of the challenges often faced by war veterans fuels their passion and enthusiasm for doing all they can to help,” Stalk said.  “When members of the Jewish War Veterans visit us, they always put a smile on the faces of our residents.  We are grateful for their support and appreciate their contagious enthusiasm for helping veterans.”

“There are all sorts of resources there,” said Seiden of the an all-encompassing facility that provides basic necessities like food and medical services, but also specialized services for those with substance abuse and other conditions. “For vets, Veterans Village is much more than just a roof over their head,” Seiden said.  “It’s a place to heal and get critical help for success in the future. We’re excited about our relationship with Veterans Village. “

About Veterans Village:
Veterans Village is located at 1150 Las Vegas Boulevard in a repurposed Econo Lodge motel.  It serves as a temporary housing facility for U.S. veterans and their families and provides a comprehensive and holistic roster of services to help vets heal and succeed.  Services are provided through public and private collaborative partnerships with community organizations and government agencies and include housing, nutrition, life skills training, employment training and referrals, continuing education and degree programs, exercise training, medical services, mental health counseling and special veteran-centric activities and events. Veterans Village is managed by SHARE, a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1994 by Arnold Stalk and Karin Rogers to provide affordable housing for individuals in need.  SHARE oversees all operations of services for Veterans Village residents. 

CONR to fly air defense exercise in preparation for Super Bowl XLVII

1/29/2013 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region fighters, along with its interagency partners, will be busy well before Super Bowl Sunday preparing to protect the skies around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Just like the teams in the Super Bowl, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and its interagency partners will practice before the big game.

Exercise Falcon Virgo 13-Super Bowl, a NORAD air defense exercise, will be held Tuesday, in the greater New Orleans area to allow interagency partners the chance to practice procedures for responding to airspace violations.

The Falcon Virgo exercise is a series of training flights in coordination with the FAA, FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, and the Continental U.S. NORAD Region's Western Air Defense Sector. These agencies are part of America's team for defense of the air space around the nation, including events like the Super Bowl.

New Orleans residents can expect flights to begin Jan. 29 around 7 a.m. CST and continue for approximately one hour.

If inclement weather occurs, the exercise will take place the following morning. If bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.

"A key aspect of our daily air defense measures lies in our interagency coordination," said Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander. "This Falcon Virgo exercise is the perfect opportunity for the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and all our interagency partners to work together honing our air defense skills before Sunday's big game."

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure the Continental U.S. NORAD Region's rapid response capability. The Continental U.S. NORAD Region has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the nation's ongoing response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"When it comes to defending America's skies, whether it's Super Bowl Sunday or any other day, the men and women of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and America's AOC are always on duty," Clarke said. "We are America's Airmen...on the watch."

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Continental U.S. NORAD Region fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft for Operation Noble Eagle.