Military News

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Face of Defense: Medic Ensures Prisoners Get Good Treatment

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 – After treating sick and injured soldiers in Haiti, Somalia, Colombia and twice in Iraq, an Army medic has applied his skills to the nation's only military maximum-security facility.

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Master Sgt. Gregorio Villanuevaochoa, shaking hands with a commander, was named the Army's Corrections Professional of the Year. Courtesy photo

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Master Sgt. Gregorio Villanuevaochoa, operations noncommissioned officer at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., received the Army's Corrections Professional of the Year award, presented by Maj. Gen. David Quantock, commander of Army Corrections Command, for ensuring that prisoners receive quality health care.

Villanuevaochoa saved the Army about $300,000 in contract health care costs through greater efficiencies without cutting staff. He supervises about 60 soldiers, civilians and health care providers.

He also checks up on hundreds of prisoners -- some serving life sentences and some on death row -- to ensure they are all getting proper care and treatment. In addition, he looks out for the health and well-being of the soldiers on his staff.

While he has seen his share of horrific war wounds, Villanuevaochoa said, the most common types he sees at the prison are shoulder, knee and ankle injuries suffered during recreation, when prisoners are allowed to play basketball, football, lift weights and so on.

The medics interact daily with all the prisoners, he explained, seeing them every morning for checkups and on an as-needed basis. The prisoners also have access to all of the doctors who work at nearby Munson Army Health Center: clinical psychologists, optometrists, psychiatrists, podiatrists, social workers, surgeons, dentists, physical therapists and other specialists.

Although the prisoners are being confined because they've done wrong, Villanuevaochoa said, they're also receiving high-quality medical treatment and individual or group behavioral counseling, improving their lives and reducing their chances of recidivism once released. And while work details are a traditional part of corrections, he added, they also have the opportunity to learn a trade or skills in metal or woodworking, tailoring, graphic arts and other specialties.

Villanuevaochoa said he's proud of the Army's new medics, who receive about twice the training he received years ago during an eight-week course. "Today, our combat medics are better trained and qualified,” he said. They are truly force multipliers to all units deployed."

He added that all of his soldiers take great pride in being professionals and ensuring good order and discipline are maintained at all times in the facility.

MSAS air advisors work with AFAFRICA to share ideas with Angolan AF

from 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Air Forces Africa worked together with a 621st Contingency Response Wing traveling contact team to conduct a building partnership engagement in Luanda, Angola, from Sept. 9 to 13.  
The engagement gave 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron air advisors and Angolan airmen a chance to exchange ideas in safety and security. The 621st CRW safety TCT exchanged best practices in bird avoidance strike hazards, operational and crew resource management, flightline safety and fuels safety. A second security TCT held by AFAFRICA focused on flightline security.
"Angola is one of only a few countries in Africa that can support international peacekeeping operations," said Col. David Poage, USAFAF international relations division chief. "Exchanging knowledge and experience strengthens the relationship between our Air Forces."
According to Lt. Gen. Domingos Adriano da Silva Neto, Angolan Air Force chief of staff, the tools and experiences on the prevention of accidents, flight safety and the security and defense of air bases is a national priority.
"The enrichment of our procedures in these areas is not only crucial for our operational capacity, but is also a critical aspect for our contribution to the promotion and development of our economy," he said. "The airpower that the Angolan Armed Forces are developing as part of its reconstruction, will result in our country's regional and international security, as well as the ability to respond to humanitarian crises and natural disasters"
Furthermore, da Silva Neto emphasized the importance of partnership building with the U.S. Air Force.
"The aspirations of our Air Forces are strengthened through this process leading to the cultivation of good friendships and the hope that that our cooperation is increasingly solid and mutually advantageous," he concluded.

President Issues Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day Proclamation

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 – President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation designating Sept. 29 Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day, to honor the families of the fallen.  The following is the text of the Presidential Proclamation:

In our city centers and our bustling parks, monuments stand dedicated to visionary leaders and singular moments in the life of our Republic. But in empty seats at family dinners and folded flags above the mantle, we find the constant thread of our Nation's character -- the truth that America endures because it is home to an unbroken line of patriots willing to lay down their lives for the land they love. As we honor the men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion, we hold close the families left behind.

Most of us can only imagine the pain of a mother who loses a daughter, the husband who loses his partner, or the son who loses a father. Prepared to serve others at any cost, their loved ones exemplified the values of courage and selflessness that define our Armed Forces and fortify our Union. The families of the fallen embody that same character. Amid their sorrow, these homefront heroes support one another and lift up their communities. As our country seeks to understand the depth of their sacrifice, we draw strength and inspiration from their example.

On this day, we remember our commitment to the Gold Star mothers and families who carry on with pride and resolve despite unthinkable loss. We recall our sacred obligation to those who gave their lives so we could live ours. As a grateful Nation, we declare that we will never forget their sacrifice, and we renew our promise to build a future worthy of their devotion. We also recognize our countrymen and women who continue the fight, putting their lives on the line each day. Long after the battle is over, we will continue to give our military and Gold Star families the care and support they deserve -- in a listening ear, a comforting shoulder, a helping hand, and a moment given to keep alive the memories of their Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1985 as amended), has designated the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mother's Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 29, 2013, as Gold Star Mother's and Family's Day. I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this special day. I also encourage the American people to display the flag and hold appropriate ceremonies as a public expression of our Nation's sympathy and respect for our Gold Star Mothers and Families.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.


Military Suicide Risk Factors Mirror Those in Society

By Dana Crudo
Military Health System

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 – A recent study by military researchers showed that the risk factors associated with suicides in the military are the same as those among civilians.

Included in these factors, researchers said, are financial and relationship problems.

“There is almost always a relationship problem or financial problem,” Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said during his appearance at the 2013 Warrior Resilience Conference in August.

Dr. William Brim, director of the Center for Deployed Psychology, told the conference the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “points to the fact that it is not necessarily combat that is driving suicide. … It is everyday stress.”

In the 2011 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey of Active Duty Military Personnel, service members most frequently cited problems with money as a source of stress.
The department provides education, support and resources to help deal with financial woes and other common life stressors that contribute to suicides.

Credit unions and banks on military installations offer workshops on budgeting, and personal financial management counselors also are available. Visitors to the Defense Department’s Military Installations website, for example, can select "Personal Financial Management Services” at the site to locate a counselor.

In addition, the Military OneSource website offers financial counselors, both in person and online, to assist with establishing a budget and reducing debt. The site also lists other department programs that focus on personal financial management.

“We want to make sure people know [their finances] are under their control,” especially with the help that the military offers, Barbara Thompson, director of the Defense Department’s office of family policy and children and youth, told the American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.
The department also has military family life consultants to help service members and their families tackle financial problems and other common stressors, including relationship issues that can increase the risk for suicide.

“Military family life consultants embedded at installations provide life coaching and counseling to help people overcome [the] challenges faced in the military lifestyle,” Thompson told the 2013 Warrior Resilience Conference.

Licensed consultants are available to help military families cope with the issues of daily life, including:
-- Relationship issues;
-- Personal financial management;
-- Stress related to military life;
-- Loss or grief;
-- Parenting;
-- Decision-making;
-- Adjustment and transition;
-- Anger management;
-- Conflict resolution; and
-- Anxiety, sadness or other common emotional issues.

Consultants also can provide referrals for treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse.
Military family life consultants see individuals, couples and families both on and off military installations, and often take walk-in appointments. The assistance is free, anonymous and confidential -- no files or records are kept, Thompson said.

“This is one way to get help without having to report it to the chain of command,” she added.

Military family life consultant programs vary by location. They usually can be accessed through the Army Community Services, Marine Corps Community Services, Navy Fleet and Family Support Centers or Airman and Family Readiness Centers. Military OneSource also has counselors available in person, by phone and online. Counselors for the Military Crisis Line are also available via online chat and texting.

Hagel Meets with Lebanese President, Gulf Leaders in New York

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met in New York today with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and took part in a meeting of the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Cooperation Forum, Pentagon Spokesman George Little said.

In a statement issued after the meeting, Little said Hagel joined Secretary of State John F. Kerry in meeting with the foreign ministers of the six-member GCC for the third iteration of the SCF, a consultative body formed in 2012 to enhance multilateral cooperation between the United States and the GCC on a range of common issues.

During the SCF, Little said "Secretary Hagel reiterated the United States' commitment to the region and underscored how collaborative approaches toward regional defense made the Middle East more secure and stable, a shared interest of the United States and the GCC."

Hagel, he said, detailed recent progress on several areas of defense cooperation, including the success of the May 2013 International Mine Countermeasures Exercise and multinational engagement on ballistic missile defense at the Gulf Combined Air Operations Center, while urging further collaboration in these defense initiatives. The SCF concluded with Secretary Kerry moderating a discussion on regional issues, including Syria, Iran, and Yemen, Little added.

Hagel also met with Lebanese President Sleiman "to affirm the strength of the U.S.-Lebanon partnership and our shared view of the importance of the Lebanese Armed Forces as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force to Lebanon's stability and unity," Little said.

Minuteman III test missile launches from Vandenberg

by Air Force Global Strike Command
Public Affairs

9/26/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test at 3:33 a.m. (PDT) today from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., marking the second successful Minuteman test launch this week.

The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, included task force members from 20th Air Force's 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, N.D.

"This test launch -- the second in less than a week -- is a visible demonstration of the nation's safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent," said Col. Scott Fox, 20th Air Force vice commander. "That deterrent is more than just the physical missile and associated hardware.

"A weapon system is only as capable as those who operate and maintain it, and the Airmen of 20th Air Force, from the 90th and 91st Missile Wings, as well as the test experts from the 576th Flight Test Squadron performed exceptionally throughout the entire test launch process," Fox said.

The ICBM test launch program supports U.S. strategic deterrence policy as outlined in the 2010 Department of Defense Nuclear Posture Review by demonstrating the operational credibility of the Minuteman III.

Agencies across the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy will use the data collected from this mission to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.

The United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent is a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and friends.

AFMC promotes Depression Awareness Month

Air Force Materiel Command Wellness Support Center

9/26/2013 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- During the month of October, Air Force Materiel Command will promote Depression Awareness. Depression is a common and treatable condition that, if left unrecognized, can lead to behavioral health issues and possibly suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

"The primary goals of this mental health awareness campaign are to educate the workforce about the signs and symptoms of depression, offer anonymous behavior health screenings, and promote the availability of support services," said Greg Chadwick, AFMC's Wellness Coordinator.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include:
  • Feeling sad or "empty"
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive disorders, or chronic pain
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms consistently, for at least two weeks, you may be interested in a depression screening. An anonymous and voluntary mental health screening tool is offered is offered on our website, Screening results are not a diagnosis, but are provided so participants may quickly and easily find out whether or not a professional consultation would be helpful.

If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of depression, help is available. Military OneSource is an option for military members, spouses, and dependents. For more information call (800) 342-9647 or visit Active duty may also contact their local mental health clinic for services.

Civilian employees can contact the Employee Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling services at (800) 222-0364 or via the EAP website at

For more information about depression education materials, visit, or contact your local Civilian Health Promotion Services team.

Air Force Chief of Staff Begins Visit to China

Air Force News Service

BEIJING, Sept. 26, 2013 – Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and other Air Force leaders arrived here Sept. 24 as part of a weeklong visit to China.

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Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III meets with People's Liberation Army Air Force Commander Gen. Ma Xiaotian in Beijing, Sept. 25, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Scott M. Ash

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Accompanied by Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody, Welsh is the first Air Force chief of staff in 15 years to visit China.

Welsh met yesterday with his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Ma Xiaotian and other Chinese military officials as part of his first full day in the country, and meets today with Gen. Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the trip recently as one of several reciprocal visits by senior U.S. and Chinese military leaders this year and next.

"The China-U.S. relationship is important for stability and security in the Asia-Pacific [region], and achieving security and prosperity for our two nations in the 21st century,” Hagel said. “A sustained, substantive military-to-military relationship is an important pillar for this strong bilateral relationship."

Global Strike runners conquer wet conditions

by Airman 1st Class Joseph Raatz
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

9/26/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Rain couldn't dampen the spirits of athletes from around the country as they competed at the 17th annual Air Force Marathon Sept. 21, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

"This year we have 15,000 participants in various races and over 2,500 runners participating with you virtually at eight deployed locations around the world, and they are with you in thoughts and sweat," said Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander, as he welcomed participants to the event.

"During the race you will have the opportunity to traverse grounds that cover over 100 years of aviation history dating back to the early days of the Wright brothers. Enjoy your jog through history, do your best, stay safe and have fun!"

The runners participating had a choice of three events: a 26.2 mile marathon, a 13.1 mile half-marathon, and a 10 kilometer race. A five kilometer race was also scheduled, but was canceled due to inclement weather.

Air Force Global Strike Command sent a team to the marathon to participate in the Major Command Challenge, an Air Force-wide competition open to active-duty and activated Guard and Reserve servicemembers. The challenge pits MAJCOM teams against one another in a friendly competition to achieve the lowest combined time.

The AFGSC marathon team finished 6th overall with a combined time of 25:54:43. The half-marathon team finished 2nd with a combined time of 9:57, and the marathon team finished 7th with a combined time of 15:57:43.

Capt. Bryan Kelly, 393d Bomb Squadron, Whiteman AFB, Mo., finished the marathon with a time of 2:43. This outstanding result earned him the place of 5th overall finisher, and 3rd among active duty.

Airman 1st Class Timothy Schlappich, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Minot AFB, N.D., finished the half-marathon in 9th place with a time of 1:18.

Both Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, AFGSC commander, and Maj. Gen. Stephen Wilson, 8th Air Force commander, participated in the half-marathon, finishing less than a minute apart. Wilson finished with a time of 1:37:58, and Kowalski with 1:38:40.

Second Lt. James Walmsley, 490th Missile Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., who ran as part of the "all-Air Force" team, won the half-marathon with a time of 1:08. Walmsley and the rest of his team will go on to compete in the Armed Services Marathon in Washington, D.C., scheduled for Oct. 27.

Members of Utah National Guard's 1457th Engineer Battalion will help Colorado flood areas

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DRAPER, Utah (9/26/13) - About 100 members of the Utah Army National Guard's 1457th Engineer Battalion will depart today for Colorado to transport vehicles and equipment for rebuilding efforts following the massive flooding that that struck that state.

The mission of Task Force Pioneer, as it will be called, is to assist the Colorado National Guard with route clearance, route maintenance and debris removal along U.S. Highway 36 in Boulder and Larimer Counties.

Because of the uncertainty of budget constraints and a possible federal government shutdown at midnight Sept. 30, the 1457th will transport vehicles and equipment to work sites and then return to Utah.

Once funding issues have been resolved, which is anticipated to be the first week of October, about 120 soldiers of the 1457th will return to Colorado to complete their mission.

Once troops return to Colorado, the mission is expected to last a minimum of two weeks.

National Guard biathletes train for Winter Olympics

By Gary Sheftick
Army News Service
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CAMP ETHAN ALLEN, Vt. (9/26/13) - National Guard athletes aren't allowing warm weather to stop them from training for this winter's demanding schedule of biathlons leading up to the Olympics, in just five months.

There's no need for snow when roller skis enable the training, said Pfc. Wynn Roberts, who competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Roberts and three other athletes reported for duty Sept. 3 at the National Guard Biathlon Program training camp in Vermont.

They spend their mornings on roller skis, racing around paved trails at Camp Ethan Allen and firing their weapons at the same targets they will use for winter competitions.

"People call it skating," said Staff Sgt. Sarah Lehto, coach for the elite biathletes. "But what we're doing is ... using roller skis, which imitate or simulate the on-snow skiing that we do in the winter. It's very specific to the actual winter sport."

"We have a roller loop here that we're told is one of the best, if not the best facility for summer training in the world," Lehto said.

About 5 kilometers of paved loop exists, which Lehto said can be used in different combinations for races of various lengths.

"We can come up with virtually any distance we're looking for," Lehto said.

The Camp Ethan Allen loop hosted the North American Biathlon Rollerski Championships, Aug. 9-11. The U.S. National Team competed, along with the Canadian team.

Roberts finished in fifth place in the 10-kilometer sprint race, beating Staff Sgt. Jeremy Teela, a three-time Olympian and member of the Army World Class Athlete Program. Teela competes with the U.S. National Team, which normally trains in Soldier Hollow, Utah.

Teela, 34, was able to just beat Roberts, 25, in the 12.5-km pursuit. Roberts finished seventh in the pursuit.

Both Roberts and Teela are vying for the three remaining biathlon positions on the five-man USA Team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"It's a long road" to qualify for the Olympics, said Maj. Christopher Ruggerio, who heads up the National Guard Biathlon Program.

"There's a lot of different gates that you need to meet," Ruggerio said, explaining that the biathlon has a demanding schedule of Olympic trials.

The next competition is another roller-skiing race at Soldier Hollow, Utah, Oct. 20-22. The first race in the snow will take place in November in Canada at the North America Cup races. Then competitors will move on to the National Guard Biathlon Regionals, the National Guard Bureau Championship, and then to the international competitions leading up to the Olympics.

The XXII Winter Olympic Games will take place Feb. 7-23, in Sochi.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, Teela was ill on the morning of the 20-km pursuit race and Roberts stood in for him. Roberts finished eighty-sixth with a time of 58:49.2. Teela finished ninth in the 10-km sprint there, the best individual American finish ever in an Olympic biathlon.

Roberts didn't ski with the Guard team at the Vancouver Olympics. He just enlisted in the Vermont National Guard last year as an 88M heavy vehicle driver. In fact, he just attended Advanced Individual Training, from April 25 to June 20, at Fort Leonard Wood.

While at advanced individual training, Roberts wasn't able to ski at all or train for the biathlon, Ruggerio pointed out. This put him somewhat at a disadvantage for the summer roller ski competitions.
But he's back on roller skis now.

"Every week I can see a progression," Roberts said.

Roberts related that he grew up cross-country skiing in Minnesota. His younger brother, Spc. Conrad Roberts, is also training at the Guard Biathlon camp. Conrad has competed on the National Junior Biathlon Team and said he hopes to qualify for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The other two athletes at the National Guard Biathlon camp this week are also juniors: Pvt. Jordan McElroy, 19, of the Vermont National Guard, and Spc. Jake Dahlberg of the Minnesota National Guard.
"It's a great program," Roberts said of the National Guard Biathlon Camp. "If it wasn't for the National Guard Biathlon Program, I'd be struggling to do biathlon at a competitive level."

He said the expense of the sport and the need to train full-time to be competitive would be difficult without the National Guard.

In biathlon competition, athletes cross-country ski and stop either two or four times to shoot at 50-meter targets. Half of the shooting rounds are in the prone position and the other half standing. In each round, the biathlete must hit five targets. Each missed target brings a penalty of either another 150-meter loop, or a minute added to the total score.

Thirty-one states now participate in the National Guard Biathlon program. Kentucky just signed on, Ruggerio said, primarily for the marksmanship skills.

The Camp Ethan Allen facility not only features paved trails and competition loops, it also has a newly remodeled strength-training facility, Ruggerio said. The gym includes a huge horse treadmill that biathletes utilize with their roller skis.