Thursday, March 20, 2014

USS Wayne E. Meyer Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

From Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) departed Naval Base San Diego March 20 on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean.

Wayne E. Meyer has a crew of nearly 300 officers and enlisted Sailors and is a multi-mission ship designed to operate independently or with an associated strike group. While deployed, the ship will conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations.

"USS Wayne E. Meyer and her crew have spent the last year and a half preparing for this upcoming deployment, and we are excited to be headed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility," said Cmdr. Randy J. Van Rossum, Wayne E. Meyer's commanding officer. "We are ready to execute the missions required of us."

Wayne E. Meyer is named after the late Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, who is regarded as the "Father of Aegis," for his service as the AEGIS Weapons System Manager and later his development of the AEGIS Shipbuilding Project Office. This will be the ship's second deployment since it was commissioned Oct. 10, 2009, in Philadelphia.

U.S. Third Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

USS Simpson Returns Home

From USS Simpson Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Guided-missile frigate USS Simpson (FFG 56) returned home to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., March 20, after a six-month deployment to the 6th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

While deployed, the crew conducted more than 700 flight hours in support of regional and maritime security. The crew conducted more than 200 drills to increase overall preparedness and qualified more than 80 Sailors as Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists (ESWS).

"I'm the luckiest CO (commanding officer) on the waterfront. I am proud of my Sailors' accomplishments and humbled to be their Captain. I can't say enough about the resilience of this crew," said Cmdr. Christopher Follin, Simpson's commanding officer.

"These Sailors ensured we deployed ready for any tasking in all of our warfare areas. Their ability to maintain their equipment throughout the entire deployment provided the Operational Commander a reliable asset that was vital to our national security and diplomatic relations," Follin added.

Since her September departure, Simpson traveled more than 35,000 miles and made 10 port visits to eight different countries, providing the crew opportunities to strengthen regional ties through exercises and opportunities to experience Mediterranean culture.

"Over the past six months I have been honored to watch this crew perform daily to successfully complete the mission," said Command Senior Chief Terry Parker. "Attaining new pay grades, ESWS qualifications and experiencing new countries and their cultures were just some of the items that highlighted this deployment."

During two of the ship's port visits, numerous Sailors volunteered to help others through community relations events. Sailors made renovations to a shelter for domestic violence victims in Malta and participated in learning, sports, and grounds keeping activities at a school for disadvantaged girls in Morocco.

"Looking back on this deployment, knowing we were able to help a little bit is a great feeling," said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Anthony Petry. "Even though time restraints limited how much we could get done, just seeing all the smiles on the faces of the people we helped made everything worth it. It was definitely a moment I'll always remember."

Simpson closed its deployment with a "tiger cruise" from Charleston, S.C. to Mayport, during which crew members' family and friends were able to experience first-hand, life aboard a Navy ship.

Warrior-athletes Bring Home Sochi Gold

By Elaine Sanchez
Brooke Army Medical Center

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, March 20, 2014 – A wounded warrior led Team USA’s sled hockey team to a hard-won victory over Russia at the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, March 15.

Former Marine Corps Sgt. Joshua Sweeney, a bilateral amputee, scored a breakaway goal in the second period, cinching the team’s 1-0 gold medal triumph in the nail-biting game.

With that win, the U.S. became the first nation to win back-to-back Paralympic gold medals, according to the committee’s website.

“We all played hard and gave it our all,” said Sweeney, a first-time Paralympian and former Brooke Army Medical Center patient. “It’s great to know our team came together and did what we needed to do to come out on top.”

Just a few days earlier in a preliminary round, the U.S. had suffered a painful 2-1 defeat by Russia, doubling the team’s determination to get more puck time in the gold medal game.

“We knew going into the game we had to play hard,” Sweeney said. “We weren’t going to give them any more chances.”

With a gold medal in sight, both teams remained scoreless after the first period, but nearly 10 minutes into the second period, Sweeney saw an opportunity to catch a pass. Going into “autopilot,” he stole the puck and slammed it past the goaltender into the net, scoring the game-winning goal.

“I didn’t do anything my teammates didn’t do,” he said. “Right after, I was thinking about how awesome it was to contribute to my team.

“Russia played a hard game,” he added. “It was definitely a battle.”

Other key players of the U.S. team were forward Rico Roman, an Army veteran, and goalie Army Staff Sgt. Jen Lee, a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and the first active duty soldier selected for a Paralympic winter sports team. Like Sweeney, both Roman and Lee underwent rehabilitation at BAMC’s Center for the Intrepid.

A combat veteran turned elite athlete, the media is now calling Sweeney a two-time hero. The former Marine was on patrol in Afghanistan in 2009 when he stepped on an IED. He lost both legs above the knee and suffered left hand and right arm injuries. At the time, the former high school hockey player figured he’d never hit a puck again.

“When I was going through rehab, if someone would have told me I’d be winning a gold medal a few years later, I never would have believed them,” he said. “I’m still in awe; it’s surreal.”

Sweeney hopes this victory will inspire others with injuries or combat wounds to pursue their dreams. “Anything is possible,” he said. “Just work hard and have fun, and you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.”

Back at BAMC, staff and friends were watching and cheering on the warrior-athletes every step of the way. Many said they were “jumping for joy” after the televised victory.

“We are so proud to see some of our own bring home the gold,” said BAMC Commander Army Col. Kyle Campbell. “The entire BAMC team is dedicated to assisting all patients in regaining the highest degree of activity possible. It’s truly inspiring to our staff and other patients to see what Rico, Jen and Josh have accomplished!”

U.S. Army Medicine Civilian Corps Celebrates 18th Anniversary

March 20, 2014 – Fort Sam Houston, Texas – On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, the Civilian Corps of the U.S. Army Medical Command celebrates 18 years of dedicated service. Known as “an integral and inseparable component” of Army Medicine, the Civilian Corps provides the highest quality medical, dental and behavioral health care to Army Soldiers, beneficiaries and their families.

“The Civilian Corps is honored to work alongside our military counterparts providing world class health care,” says Dr. Joseph Harrison, Jr., Chief, Recruitment and Retention, Headquarters U.S. Army Medical Command, Civilian Human Resources Division. “We continue to diligently pursue strong recruitment efforts in 2014 to help staff Army hospitals and clinics worldwide with the best health care, to include behavioral health, professionals available.”

The Civilian Corps continues to help position Army Medicine Behavioral Health at the forefront of its recruitment efforts to staff the Behavioral Health Service Line positions nationwide. The Behavioral Health Service Line serves to provide the Soldiers and their families a convenient access to quality behavioral health care. Army Medicine seeks to address behavioral health needs quickly, effectively and efficiently.

With nearly 45,000 team members, Civilians make up approximately 60% of the total Army Medicine workforce providing the day-to-day care for Army Soldiers, beneficiaries and their families at Army hospitals and clinics worldwide. The Civilian Corps has more than 2,500 job openings in 25 different medical, dental and behavioral health professions.

The Civilian Corps provides rewarding career opportunities for civilians to practice their medical field while serving those who serve their county. Employees are not subject to military requirements, such as enlistment or deployment, and receive excellent benefits, including flexible work schedules, competitive salaries, health and life insurances and access to state-of-the-art training and equipment.

For more information about the Civilian Corps and rewarding career opportunities, visit

Navy Announces SAAM 2014 Theme

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced the 2014 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) theme of "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault" and issued guidance to focus efforts on awareness and prevention of sexual violence in NAVADMIN 066/14 released March 20.

The goal of the month is for individual commands to pause and reflect on what the Navy has accomplished over the past year with regard to sexual assault prevention and response and to look into the future as to how we can continue to eradicate this crime from our ranks. Commands are empowered to take ownership of this problem.

"Navy's recognition of SAAM 2014 is a component of our efforts in the 21st Century Sailor Office to build a resilient Navy community and will use the theme "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault" to highlight bystander intervention and accountability," said Rear Adm. Sean Buck, director, 21st Century Sailor Office. "We'd like Sailors to take the first half of the month to reflect on the efforts we've put in place this past year and how we've tackled sexual assault. The second half of April will focus on Sailors dedicating themselves to be active bystanders - to step up and intervene in potentially destructive situations."

In addition to asking Sailors to sit down and talk about sexual assault prevention, commands are encouraged to organize any number of events to highlight the awareness and prevention of sexual assaults. Some of the suggested events include hanging ribbons on trees around base, hosting "Meet your SARC and victim advocate" events, organizing skits at the local base theater and other such activities to raise awareness during the month of April.

"In the past few months of traveling to meet the fleet, I've noticed that Sailors themselves are stepping up and taking charge," said Buck. "I encourage you to continue to look out for your shipmates and step up to stop sexual assault."

Sailors can also find information, references and resources at to help them determine how they would like their individual command to observe this month. The website also includes resources for victims of sexual assault to reach out and get help.
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor Office which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy. The Department of the Navy is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims and to hold offenders accountable.