Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Charleston reservists score with humanitarian aid mission to Guatemala

by Senior Airman Bobby Pilch
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2013 - GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala -- The National Football League wasn't the only organization busy this Super Bowl weekend. Reservists from the 300th Airlift Squadron here traveled more than 2,700 miles to deliver about 77,000 pounds of cargo to a children's hospice facility in Guatemala Feb. 3.

The mission involved a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft delivering a donated school bus and supplies through the efforts of the Mission of Love Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Austintown, Ohio. It is estimated that more than 3,500 people from the rural area of Tecpan, Guatemala, will benefit from the donated school bus, food, clothing and medical supplies.

Missions like these are made possible by the Denton Amendment, a state department program allowing the Air Force to delivery donated humanitarian aid on a space available basis.

"We could not do it without the Denton program," said Kathleen Price, founder and director of the Mission of Love Foundation. "Through the Denton program and U.S. Air Force, our hands are extended worldwide."

The humanitarian aid will affect thousands of lives and the school bus will provide the Mayan children with the opportunity to obtain an education, according to Price.

"It's a cool opportunity to get aid to people who otherwise would not get the chance to receive these items, said Staff Sgt. Justin Palmer a resident of Powell, Tenn., and 300th AS loadmaster. "It's an honor to take part in these types of missions, it makes the trip worthwhile to be able to see their faces and to see their appreciation."

Thomas Nelson, a resident of Poland, Ohio, was on-hand in Guatemala to see the school bus unloaded from the Charleston-based C-17. "We are hoping the bus can change generations of lives," said Nelson who, along with his wife Dr. Kathie Nelson, purchased the bus for the foundation.

While airmen assigned to the 300th AS execute numerous missions annually, it's these types of missions that can have a profound affect on the crew.

"It makes you feel great and has a direct impact more so than just giving money away," said Lt. Col. Lance Livesey, one of the 300th AS reserve pilots on the mission and civilian pilot for Delta airlines. "Additionally, it adds to the crew's moral."

In the past year, the 315th Airlift Wing has flown seven missions, transporting more than 84 tons of humanitarian aid as part of the Denton cargo program to six different countries including Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, Belize, Antigua and Honduras, according to 315th AW Current Operations. Typical cargo has included food, fire trucks, an ambulance, school and medical supplies.

The relief missions are part of the ongoing efforts by the 315th AW to utilize flight training hours to provide humanitarian relief to countries in need while also providing mandated training to C-17 aircrew members.

Historic deployment for 310th AS

by Airman 1st Class Sarah Breer
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- In January 2001 the 310th Airlift Squadron joined Team MacDill. Twelve years later, it made a bit of history, when one of its C-37A aircraft and two crews were deployed.

The squadron's twin-engine, turbofan aircraft routinely run missions from MacDill for high-ranking government and Department of Defense officials, but when the plane departed Sunday for its deployment to support the mission overseas, it was a first.

The deployment is a departure from the normal MacDill-based mission of the 310th AS of "providing five-star service to the four-stars," a great source of pride for the squadron, whose job is to make sure the military's highest ranking members experience the same comforts and capabilities in the air as they do in their offices.

Onboard the plane, military members can use secure and unsecure internet, communication, phone and fax lines. High ranking officials can eat, sleep, and work all while aboard the plane, meaning that they can accomplish the mission while travelling.

"The C-37 mission is positive because we provide hands-on support to the war fighter," said Lt. Col. Derrick Hodges, 310th AS commander.

Two crews headed to the area of responsibility to support the mission overseas. One crew consists of two pilots, a communications system operator, a flight engineer and a flight attendant. Both crews share a squadron aviation resource manager.

Preparing for this historic first deployment was a new experience.

A typical deployment is at wing level, said Hodges. This slot was filled by a squadron.

"The Air Mobility Command tasked the squadron for the deployment, but since our squadron had never deployed with the C-37A, every process had to be built from scratch," said Hodges of the deployment.

A squadron of 62 members pulled the deployment together quickly. It usually takes a whole group with the support of the wing behind it to put a deployment together, with much more time to prepare.

"We had about five weeks' notice that we were tasked to fill this slot," said Hodges. "It has been a challenge since we have never deployed before, but we have stepped up. It is hard to measure what we have done, but long term, we are proud of what we bring to the fight."

Each service member going on this deployment volunteered to be a part of it, said Tech. Sgt. Ricky Osborne, 310th AS flight engineer. Everyone was pumped to go.

Osborne cross trained to be a flight-engineer from health services management. He chose to do this job.

"This job lets me travel to places most people don't get to go," Osborne said.

Members in the career fields that are deploying are all at least second-term Airmen, as their jobs are not available out of basic military training.

In addition to military members, civilian contractors are also being deployed. A new contract had to be written so that they could go with the plane overseas. The civilians will perform full line-maintenance on the plane while it is deployed.

To do their job, they work together and have to know what they are doing, Osborne said. They could not succeed without the whole crew.

Hodges said he is proud of his unit for volunteering, but he isn't surprised that they did.

"We are different," Hodges said. "It takes a special person to do this job."

Everyone who is tasked to deploy is experienced and ready to go because the mission is necessary and important, said Hodges. We have to be on time and in the right place every time we do anything.

While deployed, the crews will do the same job the do stateside. The crews will replace an Air Force unit from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and will be gone for a typical rotation, approximately three months.

Air Force mortuary provides compassionate service

by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Doyle
18th Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- (Editor's Note: It's important for service members to remember to update their Virtual Record of Emergency Data (vRED), or Defense Document Form 93. This will allow the military to have correct and up-to-date next-of-kin and beneficiary information in case of death.)

When someone passes away there are plenty of decisions to be made.

Most of the time, military members and their families choose not to speak of such a taboo subject.

"Everyone should have the conversation with their family member," said Robert Glassheim, director of the United States Air Force Mortuary at Camp Kinser outside Naha City, Okinawa.

For every military member, Department of Defense civilian and loved ones in the Western Pacific region, the U.S. Air Force Mortuary in Okinawa is there to prepare loved ones for the trip home to the United States.

When the mortuary receives a body from the hospital or medical examiner, with permission from the family, they will begin the process of embalming, which is done primarily to disinfect the remains.

"After that process is done, then the remains are dressed, casketed and then we transfer them back to the states," Glassheim said.

As a licensed funeral director, Glassheim said he's honored to support people during their most difficult time in life.

"When a death happens, this family that's been caught up in this loss, it becomes a journey," Glassheim said. "We call that the 'grief process' and I have the privilege of helping them through this part of the journey."

Sending a loved one home is part of a complex process. The mortuary affairs staff makes travel arrangements aboard United States airlines for both the deceased and their escort.

An escort is a military member of equal or greater rank who escorts the remains back to the states. It can also be, at times, a coworker, friend or possibly a family member in the military.

The staff also notifies the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Customs and the United Service Organization support systems to facilitate the transfer process.

"A lot of the airlines take this very seriously and provide the most awesome display of dignity and respect for our fallen that anyone could ever want for their loved ones," Glassheim said.

Glassheim said some airlines arrange for water cannons to be sprayed over the aircraft, and uniformed men and women from local law enforcement stand and watch as fallen Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Sailors come off the plane.

"It's very heartwarming to see that - the American display of patriotism for the fallen," he said. "It tears me up to witness that or hear about it."

Carter Meets with Jordanian Leaders, Praises U.S. Troops

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 5, 2013 – On the final leg of his six-day visit to Europe and the Middle East, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter met with military leaders and Jordan’s King Abdullah II here today, and praised U.S. forces stationed here during what he called a pivotal time for the region.

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U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter shares lunch with U.S. Army enlisted men and women from U.S. Central Command in Amman, Jordan, Feb. 5, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

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Carter spoke with young U.S. soldiers this afternoon before shaking their hands, giving them commemorative coins and posing with them in photographs.

The deputy secretary also expressed appreciation for Jordan as a premier U.S. ally lately burdened with caring for thousands of refugees fleeing over its borders to escape hunger, brutality and death rising in Syria since March 2011 by the clash between opposition fighters and the Bashar Assad regime.

“I’ve been in the region for several days, and around the region many times,” Carter told the soldiers. “The good news is that everybody wants to be a friend to the United States, … not only because we’re good at what we do, but because we’re good. And they like and value that -- none better than the Jordanians.”

In October, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced that Pentagon officials were working with Turkey and Jordan to help with collateral humanitarian and security issues affecting them because of Syria.
“We have been working with Jordan for a period of time now on a number of the issues that have developed as a result of what’s happening in Syria,” Panetta said during a news conference at the time.

Humanitarian relief was among those issues, as was help for Jordan in monitoring Syrian chemical and biological weapon sites and determining how best to respond if such weapons were used, the secretary added.

“We’ve also been working with [Jordan] to try to develop their own military and operational capabilities in the event of any contingency,” Panetta said.

“We have a group of our forces there,” he added, “working to help them build a headquarters and to ensure that we make the relationship between the United States and Jordan a strong one [to] deal with all the possible consequences” of the war in Syria.

In a cool and hazy Jordanian capital today, Carter started his day at the U.S. Embassy, where he met with Deputy Chief of Mission Stephanie Williams and received a briefing from the country team.

Afterward, in the embassy’s tiled circular courtyard, the deputy secretary greeted each of the seven Marine Corps guards, took photographs with them, gave them coins from his office, and thanked them for their service to the embassy and the nation.

He also chatted, shook hands and posed with several members of the embassy staff.

Carter later traveled to one of King Abdullah II’s royal palaces, Bab As-Salaam, meaning “the Gate of Peace.” Joining the king and the deputy secretary there were Dr. Fayez Tarawneh, chief of the Royal Diwan, or the main executive office of the king; Imad Fakhoury, the king’s office director; and Gen. Mashal al Zaben, chairman of defense.

Next, just before Carter spoke with Army troops at the military installation in Amman, he sat down for lunch there with 10 of the young soldiers working in Jordan to help with repercussions of the Syrian crisis.
One of the soldiers was Spc. Sarah Moyer, who has been in the Army for about 18 months and has five years to go on her contract. Moyer is a military police soldier from McDonough, Ga., who works in the security force on the Amman installation.

Moyer joined the Army initially to increase her education, she said.

“I know it betters you in a lot of ways. It increases your [physical training] and brings up morale and teaches you teamwork,” she noted. “A lot of main values you hold in the Army [convinced me] to join. So I’ll uphold those values and learn more about them.”

Marquise Washington is an information technology specialist from Los Angeles who joined the Army about a year ago when he was looking for a stable career. “I’ve had a good experience so far here in Jordan and in my military career,” the father of two said.

After lunch, Carter congratulated the soldiers on their courage and commitment and told them to keep up the good work.

“It’s sad what’s going on in Syria and what the Assad regime is doing and willing to do to its people,” he told the soldiers. “He’s on the wrong side of history and will lose and suffer the consequences in the end.
“I don’t know when that will be -- how many months or even years -- but that is a result that is inevitable,” Carter continued. “And … until that happens, your help is going to be needed and our help is going to be needed, and that’s what your mission is all about.”

Face of Defense: Marine Changes Fields, Finds Passion

By Marine Corps Cpl. William Jackson
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif., Feb. 5, 2013 – Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Casey Senn, an explosive ordinance disposal technician here, finished his first enlistment as a combat cameraman and began a new life in 2006.

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Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Casey Senn finished his first enlistment as a combat cameraman and began his new life as an explosive ordnance disposal technician in 2006. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. William Jackson

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“I wasn’t fulfilled in my old job,” Senn said. “I didn’t feel like there was anything for me to learn anymore. EOD is an always-evolving and ever-changing field. You’re never going to reach your limit. There’s always something more you can do.”
His family, however, isn’t as enthusiastic about his new field.

“They hate it,” he acknowledged. “I’ve got three kids: Ashlyn, 9; Brayden, 6; and Kaitlin, 3. My oldest has become more aware, but for the other two, they’re too young to understand what’s going on. For my wife, it’s hard when I deploy.”

EOD is a small community, and the risks are high. The basic EOD course is about seven months long, said Senn, looking back almost six years to his days as a student.

“I don’t think you’re going to find a more fulfilling job anywhere,” he said. “It’s the amount of pride because of all the [training] we have to go through, all of the school we have -- high-level training that we do to stay on top of our game.”

Keeping fellow Marines out of harm’s way provides tangible results from the job, Senn said. “You see the devices [that can] kill people, and you take them apart with your hands,” he added. “You get instant gratification.”

During his first deployment as an EOD technician to Iraq in 2007, Senn said, EOD technicians noticed a transition from conventional ordnance, such as 155 mm rounds, to improvised explosive devices that Marines now are more familiar with during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

“The first real crazy [IED] I had was about five days into my first deployment as a tech,” Senn said. “We had five IEDs at an intersection, and we lost our robot that day. The robot ran over a tertiary IED, and it blew the robot about 20 meters down the road.

“It was interesting going to an IED and dealing with that and trying to stay on par with the changing tactics, techniques and procedures with the enemy,” he continued. “It was adapting to what they were adapting to.”

When the U.S. military would come out with a technical advancement, such as mine rollers or mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, Senn said, the enemy would work to create a tactical way around those advancements.

“It was interesting to try and stay in the loop and bridge the technology gap with how we operate,” he said.

Though he enjoys his work, Senn said, he’s not sure what will come next.

“I don’t know if I’ll stay in an EOD-related field or not,” he added. “I think I might transition into something a little less dangerous afterwards. I’m trying to be really family oriented.”

Mass casualty exercise tests Charleston responders

by Staff Sgt. Shane Ellis
315 Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/2/2013 - Joint Base Charleston, S.C.  -- When the Airman walked into the clinic there were no immediate signs of distress; however, it didn't take long before his demeanor changed and chaos soon erupted. With a phone in one hand, and a semi-automatic pistol in the other, the last thing he said walking out the front door of the clinic was "I will blow this place up!"

Once the lone gunman was outside, smoke began to fill the clinic waiting room. People started to moan and cry out for help, and many of the injured simply lied motionless on the floor. Airmen were covered with blood, and many of them showed visible signs of mass trauma to their bodies.

A mass casualty exercise is now underway at the Joint Base Charleston Medical Clinic. Handling this type of incident is never easy; however, the men and women of the 315th Airlift Wing were put to the test as they worked to showcase their readiness for any real-world disaster they might encounter.

According to Maj. Amelia Simmons, 315th Aerospace Medicine Squadron chief of medical readiness, more than 145 Airmen from the 315 AW here actively participated in the exercise Jan. 26. Firefighters, civil engineers, members of the clinic, and aeromedical evacuation personnel all played crucial roles in the success of the exercise.

Firefighters from the 315th AW were first to respond to the scene of the attack. Securing the building and removing wounded heroes from danger was their first priority.

Outside the clinic, health-care providers from all backgrounds began the process of triaging the wounded. Speed, accuracy and proper communication were crucial components of the triage efforts.

"Seconds save lives in situations like this," said Simmons. "Our men and women are professionals and they know what to do. We train hard, and we know how to work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for our patients."

Some of the simulated injuries were minor, and the injured Airmen were able to walk away with small scrapes and bruises; however, many of the Airmen required critical care and needed to be transported by plane to another location for proper medical treatment.

Doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and other 315th AW Airmen carried wounded Airmen on stretchers and loaded them onto busses for transport to a C-17 Globemaster III which was awaiting their arrival. Onboard the aircraft were team members from the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

Members from the 31th5 AES are trained to save lives. They have a unique Air Force Reserve mission, and within minutes they can transform the cargo compartment of an aircraft into a flying hospital.

"Our goal today is to ensure everyone participating in the exercise understands the proper way to load our wounded Airmen onto the aircraft and secure them for flight," said Senior Airman Storm Ford, 315th AES medical technician. "Proper communication is the key to getting patients loaded safely and quickly. Any break in our communication process slows us down, and we can't afford to lose valuable time when lives are hanging in the balance."

More than 15 evaluators monitored the exercise, and they placed high emphasis on safety, timeliness and accuracy. Simmons and her team were debriefed by the evaluators after the exercise.

Simmons said it's important to receive solid feedback from the evaluators. The feedback helps them address any issues, learn from their mistakes, and capitalize on their accomplishments.

An exercise of this magnitude required everyone involved to pay attention to detail and work together to stay one step ahead of the game. Communication was vital.

"Our biggest challenge is always communication," said Simmons. "We overcome communication obstacles by staying focused, keeping our minds clear, and thinking forward. We know the challenges, and it's our job to go out there and make great things happen. I'm proud of what we accomplished here today."

A run to remember: Creech Airmen honor fallen warriors

by Staff Sgt. Nadine
432d Wing/432d Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

2/4/2013 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Physical fitness is a major focal point for Airmen readiness across the Air Force and running is a key element. Airmen at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., have decided to do more than just run for fitness, they run for a purpose.

What initially started as a quick way to get Airmen of all fitness levels to get out and run has grown into a club of more than 60 Airmen who run to remember.

"We run in memory of our fallen brothers and sisters," said Senior Airman Tanya, a weather forecaster from the 78th Attack Squadron, and running club president. "It gives us a little bit more motivation if we remember that we are able to run, yet others who aren't able to run anymore would be out here if they could be."

Kicking off in early October 2012, the Creech AFB Fallen Warriors Memorial Club was initiated by Tanya with a focus on honoring not only Creech fallen warriors, but all those who have lost their life serving their country.

"I started the club because I noticed that we didn't really have anything like this here and I had experience from a past unit so I thought I'd try it," Tanya said.

Now, the group trains once a week with an option to attend a specific fitness program geared toward their individual needs.

"I believe this running club really brings out the best in the individuals who participate," said 432d Wing/432d Air Expeditionary Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. "It meshes together two very important items in today's military; maintaining our fitness level and honoring our fallen warriors."

This club has gained not only the support of leadership, but has also left a lasting impression on its members.

"I love the club, it's awesome," said Staff Sgt. Brock, 432d Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector. "We are running for a good cause and supporting our fallen warriors while supporting each other as well."

Typical runs build endurance while others such as tempo runs build speed to help members prepare for their AF fitness assessment.

Staying physically fit is nothing new to Tanya, who has been running for years and has a passion for both the military and fitness.

"Our runs eventually build to eight miles and that becomes our memorial run," Brock said. "We wear our fallen warriors t-shirts and the whole thing is a very positive experience that I'm glad to be part of."

Tanya said that she is happy Airmen have come out to support the cause and is excited that people are networking with others outside of their own units.

"Our job is to stay fit to fight and this is a way to motivate people who may or may not like running to come out and get healthy," Tanya said.

"It's a new spin on out fitness program and motivates our Creech Airmen to stay active and fit my giving them another reason to run," said the 432d WG/AEW Command Chief Master Sgt.

FAST members provide much needed security at remote airfields

by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Hoy
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

2/4/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- An aircraft commander has plenty to worry about while flying in potentially hostile environments: What are the landing conditions like? Is there security at the landing site? Are my crew and the aircraft safe? Do I have enough fuel? Do I have any mechanical issues?

Thanks to U.S. Air Forces Central Command fly-away security teams, or FAST, at least a few of those concerns can be put to rest.

The FAST program was established in 2007 and is designed to provide discreet, low-visibility, fly-away security for additional protection when needed aboard aircraft transiting the AFCENT theater of operations.

Once tasked for deployment as a FAST member, security forces Airmen attend specialized training to become FAST certified through the Regional Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

"The Air Force prepares you pretty well for the mission," White said. "It's definitely not something you can just be thrown into."

While constantly being on the move may seem stressful to some, White was up for the challenge.

"I didn't volunteer for it, but I was definitely open to being on this team," she said. "It's one of the missions that really makes you enjoy being a cop. You're always on the move; it's fun."

Although the mission can be fun and adventurous, FAST members fill important roles.

"On these missions, we are security police, ambassadors and humanitarians all at the same time," said Master Sgt. Chad Eagle, the fly-away security manager for the 609th Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia. "Many of the areas the teams fly into may have never had Americans and U.S. military aircraft in them, so what the Airmen do or how they act can make or break an area's perception of the United States."

This mission takes the Airmen to locations across their area of responsibility.

"My favorite part about what I do would probably be getting to see all the different places around Afghanistan," said Senior Airman Bambi White, a FAST member assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. "It's great to be able to experience the different cultures."

The FAST program has teams on standby throughout the AFCENT theater, ready to go when called upon. Members provide security for the plane and its crew, in addition to distinguished visitors who sometimes travel aboard the aircraft. Based on the mission tasked, there could be a two-, three- or four-person team involved, Eagle said.

"On average, I have about 10 teams projected to perform missions each day," Eagle said. "They are important because without their presence, some missions wouldn't be able to succeed."

McChord Reservist helps out in France

by Airman 1st Class Madelyn McCullough
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2013 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- A simple phone call can change everything.

Less than eight hours after receiving the call to manage U.S. airlift operations in support of French efforts against extremist forces in Mali, Lt. Col. Ben Morley was on the road.

On Jan. 20, mere hours after the call, he landed in Istres, France, where he began a whirlwind series of up to 20-hour days managing the complicated logistics of transporting French troops and equipment to the war-torn African nation.

"As an operations mission commander, my team and I routinely work complex logistics issues," said Morley, an Air Reserve technician with the 446th Airlift Wing and assistant operations manager for the 313th Airlift Squadron here. "That includes hotels, transportation, communication, meals; all the things aircrews need when they get to a location."

Setting up for the operation wasn't easy and Morley's small team had its work cut out for it. Early on, many people on the team had to take on multiple roles to get the job done. One challenge in particular illustrates the importance of teamwork in accomplishing the mission.

"We had to divert a crew to an alternate airfield when they came back from their mission due to high winds," said Morley, who has been a member of the 446th AW since 2000. "During their crew rest at the alternate location our team prepped a jet here with cargo and fuel. We coordinated crew paperwork, meals, et cetera. so when they finally returned they simply transferred over to the new jet and completed the mission."

Morley, a 23-year veteran with more than 4,000 flying hours said that for him, the most challenging aspect of the mission was the short-notice tasks driven by real-world necessity.

"As operations mission commander, I take the best strategic level planning from Air Force and joint headquarters, then execute the plan," Morley said. "We match up the aircrews and jets that are on station and we press the button."

The operation, which began Jan. 21, is part of a U.S. Africa Command effort to help France and other partner nations resolve the security situation in Mali. U.S. aircraft are airlifting French army personnel into Mali at the request of the French government. To date, those efforts have so far resulted in nearly 50 missions transporting more than 1,100 tons of cargo and more than 900 passengers.

New Warrior Center ‘Gift From American People’

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., Feb. 5, 2013 – The USO, two days after its 72nd birthday, again demonstrated its commitment to wounded, ill and injured U.S. troops and their families by opening its largest center in the world.

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Senior Army leaders, United Service Organizations leaders, and corporate sponsors participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new 20,000-square foot warrior and family care facility at Fort Belvoir, Va., Feb. 5. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

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The USO hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony here today to showcase its new 20,000-square foot Warrior and Family Care Center which will serve all U.S. service members and their families.

Sloan D. Gibson, USO president, identified a number of corporate sponsors such as the Northrop Grumman Foundation which, at $5,000,000, provided the largest donation in the USO’s history for the center.

“But what you won’t see are the names of nearly a quarter of a million individual Americans that have made a donation honoring the wounded, ill and injured troops and their families to Operation Enduring Care,” he said.

“I think when we talk about this center being a gift from the American people that’s what we’re talking about,” Gibson said.

The USO says this new center will support the non-clinical needs of wounded, ill and injured troops and their families throughout their rehabilitation. It will be staffed by USO of Metropolitan Washington and 350 volunteers.

Army Lt. Gen. William J. Troy, director of the Army Staff, said this new center will help troops and their families cope as they recuperate from their injuries.

“This will give the families a place to come -- a home away from home if you will -- to relax and visit,” he said. “And to have a place that will be very supportive and nourishing to them as they go through this.”
“It’s extremely important that they have a place that they feel comfortable -- that they feel at home,” Troy said. “Especially when you’re going through some of the things that you have to go through as a wounded warrior or someone who’s here at Fort Belvoir for treatment. It’s a great asset to have a place like this here.”
Army Col. Gregory Gadson, garrison commander of Fort Belvoir, praised the USO for recognizing the need for a warrior care center.

“The USO has not only identified a need, but they’ve taken action, and that is so commendable,” he said. “And it’s their leadership and their partners – corporate, private, volunteers, members of the board – that have mustered the efforts that have made this day possible.”

“I’ve had the privilege, over the past few years, of watching the USO’s efforts evolve as they’ve continued to provide for our service members,” Gadson said. “[And] not just overseas, but in a very visible way, stateside.”

Gadson, a double amputee, said the USO’s efforts in building the center in two and half years will vastly improve the quality of life of troops and their families.

“I know that my family and so many other families are in a better place because of the efforts of the USO,” he said. “And there’s a lot of personal emotion that I have as I’ve seen this building.”

“And now it’s about to come alive with so much hope and so much promise,” Gadson added.