Military News

Monday, April 21, 2014

USS Somerset Arrives in San Diego



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

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego, April 21.

Somerset was formally commissioned March 1 during a ceremony in Philadelphia and shortly afterward began a journey from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean Sea and Panama Canal, to San Diego.

"The crew of Somerset has worked extremely hard to train, qualify and prepare this great ship for service. They have met all challenges head-on and they have produced outstanding results exceeding all expectations," said Capt. Thomas L. Dearborn, Somerset's commanding officer. "The crew has long awaited our arrival in our homeport of San Diego and we are truly excited to be reunited with our family and friends."

The ninth San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, Somerset is named in honor of the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pa., in Somerset County during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Somerset represents the heroic actions of the 40 crew and passengers of United Flight 93, honoring their collective sacrifice and the tremendous courage displayed in the face of overwhelming adversity.

The third of the three U.S. ships named in honor of those victims and first responders of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Somerset joins USS New York (LPD 21) and USS Arlington (LPD 24) as part of the Navy's combat force.

226th Combat Communications Group first ANG unit to receive new AFSPC UEI

226th Combat Communications Group

4/21/2014 - MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The 226th Combat Communications Group and the 232d Combat Communications Squadron were the first Air National Guard units in Air Force Space Command to be inspected under the Air Force Unit Effectiveness Inspection construct.

The 226th's recent inspection was part of a new Air Force Inspection System, which empowers commanders to inspect units, processes and personnel under their command and work toward continuous improvement. It also emphasizes the efficient use of resources and allows Airmen to focus on mission readiness.

"We were anxious to undergo this new process in order to learn from the experience and share it with our squadrons," said 226th Combat Communications Group Commander Col. Gary Kirk. "It was a great opportunity to experience a new system in order to share information across the combat communications community."

Under the new Air Force Inspection System, unit personnel continuously monitor and report their compliance via self-assessment checklists. Local Inspector General-led inspection teams validate and verify the responses to those checklists, and perform additional sampling to ensure the unit is always ready to execute its mission.

Simultaneously, the Major Command IG team regularly inspects various areas of the organization via virtual means, often without the unit even knowing they've been inspected. The 48-60 month inspection cycle for Air National Guard units then culminates with the MAJCOM IG team visiting the unit to verify and validate the unit commander's self-inspection program and publishing a report that gives the MAJCOM commander insight regarding the overall effectiveness of the organization and an assessment of the adequacy of the unit's inspection system.

This new inspection program is a change for all: commanders, staffs and unit-level Airmen. It represents a transformational shift in thinking about unit effectiveness and about the roles and responsibilities of commanders, inspectors and functionals.

"The new Air Force Inspection System gives commanders tools to evaluate their units and gauge the overall health. It drives us away from inspection preparation and more toward continuous improvement. As the old saying goes, it is easier to stay ready than to get ready", said Kirk.

Kirk said the 226th appreciated the AFSPC IG Team giving an in-depth look at unit's programs. The 226th and 232nd Combat Communications Squadron received an overall Effective rating with two of the four major graded areas receiving a Highly Effective rating, to include Highly Effective in Executing the Mission.

Plane crash, coma doesn't deter pilot

by Airman 1st Class James Hensley
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/21/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- After a 2007 plane crash, nine days in a coma and 28 surgeries, retired Capt. David Berling, now a civilian working as a 56th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, understands what it means to overcome adversity.

On April 29, 2007, Berling was approximately 20 seconds from landing his private plane at Hawthorne Municipal Airport near Los Angeles when he hit a power line. The plane crashed violently into a dark vacant dirt field and flipped onto its top, bending into a twisted and mangled heap of debris. The plane's engine was pushed into the cockpit, crushing Berling's legs.

"When I heard what happened to my husband I was in shock," said Melissa Berling, David's wife. "I kept thinking to myself this wasn't happening. I was on autopilot. I remember being told he was in an accident and that he had lost both legs. So what I did was focus on getting to him and freaking out later."

David was already in surgery when his wife arrived at the hospital.

"I don't remember any part of the accident," David said. "I listened to the tapes from the crash, and I sounded pretty calm, but I just don't remember. I don't even remember the week before."

David's wife was with him throughout the recovery process.

"It was inspiring to me," Melissa said. "He was so motivated to get back to what he loved, and it directly reflected on how I felt."

With help from family and friends, and sheer determination, David Berling recovered from his nearly fatal accident and even wrote a book about the experience.

The book is entitled "Just Living the Dream: No Way Out but Through."

"The book is written from both my perspective and my family's perspective," David said. "It starts in the hospital immediately after my accident."

After multiple surgeries and a double amputation, the book has given meaning to what some would view as a tragic event.

"I want people to know they are not alone when going through tragedies like mine," he said. "I hope people can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel because there can be positive outcomes."

Since the accident, David got the job in the 56th CONS, and his wife has a newly found appreciation for the simple things in life.

"People stress about the little everyday things in life, and that's how I was," Melissa said. "The accident made me realize what's really important in life, which is my family and my marriage."

His love of flying was not deterred by the accident, as David still flies his private Cessna for fun.

"No matter what you try in life, you will have failures," he said. "The goal is to learn from those failures and not dwell on them. Instead, keep pressing forward."

Heroes walk amongst us every day

by Staff Sgt. Luther Michell Jr.
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/21/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion." ~Abraham Lincoln

One Airman did just that when he found himself downrange in the thick of war.

It was April 2008 and Maj. Scott Smith, 56th Comptroller Squadron commander, had been on Phoenix base in Iraq for almost a year. The whole time he was there, it wasn't uncommon for the base to get hit with indirect fire from the enemy. On this particular day, the base went into lockdown as rockets fell like rain.

After some time, all-clear was called and Smith and his wingmen returned to the gym to finish their workout. Within minutes, a 105-millimeter rocket penetrated the building and landed on a machine Smith was on just seconds before it hit.

"The good Lord was definitely looking out for us that day," Smith said.

Smith woke from the blast, unaware of what had happened.

"I just remember coming to to the sound of screams, seeing black smoke pouring through the building, and the guy next to me was wounded," he said.

Bombs went off in rapid succession, not giving Smith and the people around him enough time to seek shelter. Screams filled the air, and people, putting their lives at risk, rushed in to help the wounded.

"What I learned in that moment of crisis is that there are people who will rise to the occasion," Smith said. "Some people are predisposed in the moment of crisis to answer that call, and it might not be the people you thought it would be."

Although the "all clear" hadn't been given, people on the outside hearing the screams rushed into the building and started pulling people out. One guy grabbed Smith and pulled him outside the building and then went back in and grabbed another guy who was wounded next to him.

In all, two Soldiers were killed and more than a dozen people were wounded in the attack.

It could have been a lot worse, Smith said.

He performed self-aid buddy care on the wounded and helped load them into a sports utility vehicle heading to the hospital. Then aftershock set in, and Smith himself was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion.

He finished his tour, returned home and a few weeks later received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the mail. The whole experience has been humbling, he said.

"I'm extremely humbled by it in the sense that there were two individuals that did not walk out of there," Smith said. "I don't like to advertise it, but when I do wear the medals, I wear them for those men."

After returning home Smith worked on getting himself back to living a normal life. He dealt with guilt and post-traumatic stress from the incident. However, with the help of his supervisors and support staff he fought back.

"For well over two months it was game on," Smith said. "When you are faced with that kind of barrage, your body is programmed to act differently. Luckily I was blessed with supervisors who gave me the summer to reacclimatize myself."

From his experiences downrange, Smith learned that rising to the occasion also means asking for help when you need it.

"I tell my troops that if they are ever in a situation where they need help, go get it," Smith said. "We won't look at it as a negative thing. I actually view it as a sign of strength, that you have that courage to stand up and go seek help."

Flying squadron honors, remembers instructor pilot's ultimate sacrifice

by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Slade
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs


4/18/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Maj. Jeff 'Oz' Ausborn, 41, was killed April 27, 2011, in Kabul, Afghanistan, when a shooter opened fire at the Kabul International Airport, killing eight Airmen and one American contractor.

Ausborn, who was an instructor pilot deployed from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, was honored during a heritage room and aircraft dedication April 18. Members of the 99th Flying Training Squadron, a squadron of the 12th Flying Training Wing at JBSA-Randolph, hosted the event and Ausborn's family members.

The dedication of the Major Jeffery Ausborn Memorial Heritage Room included words from fellow squadron members and the 99th FTS commander, followed by a video presentation of a 90-mile march in 2012 from the 9/11 Memorial to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. completed by 99th FTS members in remembrance of the those individuals killed during the April 2011 incident in Kabul, Afghanistan.

"The journey to this day has been a long one," Lt. Col. Gavin Marks, 99th FTS commander, said. "It has been one of the highlights of my time in command."

Through lengthy renovations, Marks said the small space used by squadron members and visitors has been transformed into "a multipurpose room that touches many people and a perfect spot to memorialize 'Oz'."

Characteristics of the heritage room include photos, medals earned and personal mementos representing Ausborn's service in the Air Force, along with an inscribed 'paver' carried during the march in his remembrance.

"What we aimed to achieve was a space that was warm and inviting and would encourage individuals to come in, look at photos, look at the memorabilia, read the articles and reflect on the ultimate sacrifice this hero gave for our squadron," Marks said.

Mentioned throughout the event by friends and coworkers was Ausborn's kind personality and passion for flying.

Maj. Jeffery Dalrymple, a fellow 99th FTS member, said that despite Ausborn's desire to roam the skies, he always put his family first.

"Jeff really liked flying, but he loved his family," he said.

The event concluded with an unveiling of a T-1A trainer. The T-1A was the last aircraft Ausborn flew before his deployment, marked with a special inscription in Ausborn's memory.

"I miss him. He was a wonderful man, husband, father and son who never made his family feel second to his love of flying," Suzanna Ausborn, Ausborn's widow, said. "We're so happy we have a piece of him we can come to see."

Ausborn was a native of Gadsden, Ala. He was deployed to the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing where he served as a C-27 instructor pilot to new Afghan pilots. He was a senior pilot, logging more than 2,300 hours in both airlift and trainer aircraft, to include the T-37B, T-44, C-130E, T-6A, T-1A and C-27. He is survived by his wife, Suzanna, his five children, Emily Ausborn, Eric Ausborn, Shelby Ausborn, Mitchell Maloy, Summer Maloy, and his parents, Clifford and Faye Ausborn.

USARAK welcomes new top NCO: Gardner returns to Alaska

by Army Master Sgt. Jennifer K. Yancey
USARAK Public Affairs


4/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight relinquished responsibility for U.S. Army Alaska to Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Gardner in a change of responsibility ceremony April 11. Service members, civilians and family members traveled from around Anchorage and as far as Fairbanks to witness the transition of USARAK's senior-enlisted leaders.

Army Maj. Gen. Michael Shields, USARAK commanding general, said the change of responsibility ceremony is a "great Army tradition," which recognizes the importance of the command sergeant major's position. As his senior-enlisted advisor, Knight provided counsel to the commander and staff. He served as enforcer of standards and discipline, frequently engaged Soldiers on issues such as sexual assault response and prevention and resiliency, and ensured leaders fostered a climate of dignity and respect all the way down to the Soldier level.

"Command Sergeant Major Knight was constantly out mentoring our Soldiers and monitoring their adherence to standards, whether that was the proper wear of uniforms, proper use of equipment, conduct of physical training under harsh, arctic conditions and reduction of DUIs across the command," Shields said.

As a command team, they supported U.S. Army Pacific's Regional Partnership Program. Knight continuously served as an example of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps to USARAK's regional partners, and likewise met with local and national leaders to highlight USARAK's importance to the Pacific.

"He's made it his mission to sell our story," Shields said. "And he's done it magnificently."
Knight will retire later this year after 31 years of service. He spent at least 14 of those years - not consecutively - in Alaska, raising his family. He said that in the more than 30 years he'd served, he never saw a greater outpouring of support for the military as he had in Alaska.

"We are very fortunate to work in a state that holds the military in such high regard," he said.

Knight expressed his admiration for USARAK's Arctic Warriors.

"I've fought and served with some of the toughest, most courageous men and women the Army has, who serve right here in Alaska," he said.

He went on to thank them for their friendship and support, camaraderie, mentorship, courage and commitment, sharing his achievements with his Army family.

"I would not be standing here today if it weren't for the people I spoke about," Knight said. "I haven't accomplished anything alone. It is with the deepest admiration and respect that I say, 'Thank you.'"

Knight said he believes these Arctic Warriors embrace the Warrior Ethos and Army Values, saying USARAK's Soldiers are expertly trained and well-equipped, adaptive and competent. "And through the leadership of Major General Shields, and now Command Sergeant Major Gardner, the Warrior Leader Course, Northern Warfare Training Center, our world-class ranges and cadre, and our Soldiers, will continue to be the best in quality," he said.

Knight also took a moment to welcome Gardner and his wife, Teresa, back to the USARAK Family.

"I know they respect and serve our Soldiers with great pride," Knight said. "We're lucky to have them on the USARAK team once again."

Gardner is no stranger to Alaska. Assumption of duty as USARAK's senior-enlisted advisor marks Gardner's fourth tour in The Last Frontier. He previously served as a forward observer for 4th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment; pre-Ranger instructor at Fort Richardson's Light Fighter Academy; 4th Bn, 11th FAR first sergeant; and command sergeant major for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, leading them in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Shields said of Gardner, "You bring to the table a wide range of experience necessary to lead the Army's most capable, and the Pacific's most accomplished, Arctic Warriors."
He added that he looked forward to working alongside Gardner as he assumes this responsibility.

"Together we will strive to enhance our Soldier and Family readiness, resiliency, SHARP goals, and regional and state partnerships."

Gardner said he felt it an honor to serve in this capacity.

"Sir, I truly appreciate your trust and confidence and the opportunity to serve as your command sergeant major in this amazing organization," he said. "I will increase your span of influence and enforce standards and discipline throughout the formation. Together we will continue to build on the legacy of this great organization."

Gardner said he looked forward to again sharing the Alaska experience with his wife and grandson. During his first tour as newly-promoted Sergeant Gardner, he strived to take care of Soldiers and their families. This tour would be no different. He pledged to give 110 percent of his time and energy to the Soldiers, civilians and family members in his charge.
He also expressed appreciation for the friendship and mentorship Knight provided him throughout their careers.

"I know I have some huge shoes to fill," Gardner said. "And I will continue to build the legacy you left here in USARAK."

Jumpmaster ensures safe airborne operations

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs


4/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Army 1st Lt. Robert Tester watched through a window in a C-17 Globemaster III as it took off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson loaded with Soldiers. As they gained altitude and went to the target location, he gave commands and heard the Soldiers repeat the words back as they complied.

The Soldiers had already been briefed on what to expect, and what was expected of them. They had performed personal and safety inspections to ensure their equipment and aircraft were ready to go, and now they were on the plane, strapped in and waiting for the order.

Tester, 84th Engineer Support Company (Airborne), 6th Engineer Battalion (Combat)(Airborne) executive officer and jumpmaster, gave the command. The side door opened and the Soldiers jumped out in single file as yellow static lines stretched out between the jumpers and the aircraft until parachutes deployed.

According to the Fort Benning, Ga., Jumpmaster website, a jumpmaster has the skills necessary to perform a combat-equipped jump and the proper attaching, jumping and releasing of combat and individual equipment while participating in the jump. He knows the procedures for rigging individual equipment containers and door bundles, the personal parachute, how to perform a jumpmaster personnel inspection, the duties of a drop zone safety officer, how to give briefings on related topics, and how to perform a combat jump from an Air Force aircraft, day or night.

Tester's parents and grandfathers were in the Army and Air Force. For him, it's a family tradition, and getting to jump is an extra bonus, he said.

"I was airborne while I was enlisted, I really enjoyed it; it's a different community," he said. "Any day you can jump out of an airplane and get paid for it is a good day."

He served from 2000 to 2008 before deciding he wanted a change.

"I wanted to serve in a different capacity, so I went from 'green' to 'gold,'" he said, describing how he was commissioned. "I separated from the Army and attended St. Leo University in Florida. I then commissioned in 2011 and came here."

Tester has served a total of 11 years - time he spent leaping out of aircraft.

It takes a lot to be a jumpmaster, he said.

"[Candidates] have to have at least 12 jumps out of high-performance Air Force aircraft," said Army Lt. Col. Bill Conde, 6th Engineer Battalion commander. "Generally, we want them on airborne or jump status for about 12 months."

Candidates have to be a noncommissioned officer, corporal or higher; or a commissioned or warrant officer, Tester said.

Conde looks for leaders; they could be squad leaders at the company level, or platoon leaders, or company executive officers. By the time they are company commander or a field grade officer, they've already been jumpmaster qualified, he said. There are also jumpmasters at the battalion level and other areas.

"Every candidate has to go through a process," the commander said. "They have to have a physical. They have to meet basic requirements, physically and experience-wise.

Ultimately, that package comes to me. The second half of it is really subjective. It is based on recommendations and my final decision. There are guys who are proficient in airborne operations and have a passion for it, and also have the capacity to bear that level of responsibility with Soldier's lives and keep their cool while they're doing their duties as a jumpmaster."

The package then goes to U.S. Army Alaska, to U.S. Army Pacific, and then to jumpmaster school. Once approved, Conde is able to send a Soldier to school, he said.
The roughly two-week-long school teaches Soldiers technical information related to the parachute, how to prepare and use everything, and how to do the jumpmaster personnel inspection. Soldiers also learn things jumpers need to do to safely exit from an aircraft and avoid any injuries or other problems, Tester said.

"Once you graduate that school, you're officially a jumpmaster," he said. "However, there are different duties; you have to perform a couple jumpmaster duties prior to actually being able to do primary jumpmaster duties. You have to conduct two safety duties - controlling the static lines in the aircraft as the jumpers exit - one assistant jumpmaster duty, and then you can do a primary jumpmaster duty, the position to actually command the Soldiers to jump from the aircraft - they give the commands that everybody listens to."

The most challenging part, Tester said, is getting the novice jumpers to trust their equipment and procedures.

"We have jumpers of all skill levels," the 11-year veteran said. "Some of them are novice and some of them are rather experienced. The challenging aspect is to get the novice jumpers to understand that, if they do what we tell them to do, their equipment will work, that they are going to exit the aircraft safely and efficiently and be able to carry on their mission when they get on the ground."

The jumpmaster's job getting Soldiers to jump safely ends when all the jumpers have left the plane, he said, but that Soldier's job may not be over yet - he still has to lead.

"Most jumpmasters are leaders," he said. "Once you hit the drop zone, you still have a leadership duty. We've got to hit the ground and make sure we have everybody and all the equipment so we can conduct whatever mission we have, whether it's airfield seizure or airfield construction."

Tester said he also enjoys the impact his job has on the greater JBER mission.
"With JBER, we use [Air Force C-17s] pretty frequently," the jumpmaster said. "The ability to have the joint base and coordinate directly with the pilots makes it really helpful. I'm just doing my part; I enjoy the small part that I have. The jumpers do that part and we do it really well."

The airborne community is relatively small, but holds special meaning, he said.

"I really enjoy it," Tester said. "Not only are you part of the one percent of the population that serves, you're part of the small percentage that jumps out of airplanes."
His commander voiced his confidence in the lieutenant.

"Bobby Tester is one of our most seasoned and one of our top jumpmasters in the battalion," Conde said. "He's got a ton of experience in the arctic. He's a really good, thorough, jumpmaster. He's very experienced, very safety oriented, and is very confident in his duties."

Tester recommends anyone wanting to join the military consider going airborne or becoming a jumpmaster.

"I'd absolutely recommend this job to anyone wanting to join the military," he said. "The ability to say that you're a paratrooper and to pass that legacy on is something that not everybody has the opportunity to do.

"It's a great feeling knowing that we're able to do this, we get paid for it, and one day, if it's ever needed, we can use this capability as directed for whatever operation might come up," he said.

Brain injury can be treated effectively at JBER clinic

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs


4/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- 'Traumatic brain injury' has become a buzzword in the military with the Department of Defense deeming it the "signature injury of the war on terror."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a traumatic brain injury occurs when there is a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury which disrupts the normal function of the brain.

Symptoms include headaches, sensitivity to noise or light, nausea, vision problems and dizziness, just to name a few.

Experts in the field agree diagnosing and treating TBI can be a difficult endeavor requiring devoted and highly skilled professionals.

To provide this, last year the TBI Clinic opened at the JBER hospital.

"The mission of the TBI Clinic is delivering comprehensive, evidence-based treatments to the mind, while providing the highest standard of care to the person," said Tech. Sgt. Seth Russell, 673d Medical Operations Squadron noncomissioned officer-in-charge of the clinic.

A dedicated staff of 13, which includes neuropsychologists, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists and nurse case managers, as well as an entire hospital, stands ready to help treat patients within their respective disciplines.
They compose JBER's capability to diagnose and treat TBI cases.

"Cases we see come primarily in the form of a concussion or some other traumatic blow to the head," said Air Force Maj. Joel Cartier, 673d MDOS licensed clinical social worker and TBI clinic director. "It's like a bruise on the brain. There's swelling and centralization of blood."

TBI symptoms are classified by the medical community in three categories: physical, cognitive and emotional.

Physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness and sensitivity to light.

Cognitively, patients can experience concentration problems, attention problems and difficulty finding words.

Emotionally, there can be irritability, anxiety and depression.

The physical symptoms of TBIs eventually go away, and the rest can be treated through a variety of medications and therapy, Cartier said.

"The physical signs of a TBI will go away. The symptoms can often times linger. That is the issue we deal with a lot," Cartier said.

"If you were to do an MRI on somebody who had a concussion two to three months after the fact, you're not going to see anything. But the psychological problems can persist."
Cognitive problems present their own unique challenges to Cartier's team.

"To address cognitive problems patients may have, we have to retrain the brain," Cartier said. "We have speech and language pathology and occupational therapy to help with those sorts of things."

Cartier said it can be difficult for patients to tackle the associated stress that can come with a TBI.

"If I have a TBI, my brain isn't working as well as it used to and that, in and of itself, is stressful," Cartier said. "In the military, we generally have somewhat stressful
jobs - lots of demands and expectations placed upon us. So, if my job was at
all stressful in the first place, now I have the stressor of not being able to function as well with those same stressors.

"We oftentimes take that stress home and it bleeds over into the family which can cause family problems."

Russell and Cartier agreed dealing with TBI is the easy part of their job.

"If it's strictly TBI, that's the easy part," Cartier said. "The problem is with a TBI is we're generally dealing with so many other things - chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc. PTSD is oftentimes more difficult to deal with than an a TBI."

According to the National Council on Disability, PTSD and TBI are often addressed together for two reasons.

First, the symptoms may be similar, so it is difficult to distinguish between the two injuries.
Second, the two are often related - especially in the military, where a large proportion of brain injuries are suffered due to explosions in a combat zone - which are often traumatic.
Although PTSD is a biological/psychological injury and TBI is a neurological trauma, the symptoms of the two injuries have some parallel features.

In both injuries, the symptoms may show up months after someone has returned from war, and in both injuries, the veteran may 'self-medicate.'

Overlapping symptoms include sleep disturbances, irritability, physical restlessness, difficulty concentrating and some memory disturbances.

While there are similarities, there are also significant differences.

For example, with PTSD, individuals may have trouble remembering the traumatic event, but otherwise their memory and ability to learn is intact.

With TBI, the individual has preserved older memories, but may have difficulty retaining new memories learning new things.

At each initial screening, Cartier's team determines if a patient with a concussion may potentially have PTSD.

Depending on their findings, some patients are referred for additional treatment.
Russell said TBI is getting much more attention at a federal level lately as leaders realize the impact of the injury.

Additionally, the Department of Veteran Affairs has expanded benefits for veterans with TBI and announced new regulations to make it easier for those vets to receive additional disability pay.

However, Cartier does not believe thses changes will result in over-diagnosis of TBI cases.

"TBI isn't easy to fake," Cartier said. "We have a lot of different assessments we do to tease out whether or not you're having cognitive deficiencies."

Russell believes the recent influx of TBI diagnoses is because "medical professionals have gotten smarter in the way we've assessed it and calling it what it is."

Cartier emphasized the importance of people seeking out help if they even think they might have experienced a TBI.

"It's critical for people to come get the help they need," Cartier said. "In any TBI, the expectation is that you can get better.

We can help you get back on track.

"You might not be able to make it all the way back to who you were before, but the progress we make will be of value."

Russell echoed his boss's statement.

"Life is too short not to live it well," Russell said. "Get the help you need before it gets the best of you."

For more information, people can contact the TBI clinic at 580-0014.

See your primary care provider for a referral before scheduling an appointment.

VCO’s keep ‘em moving

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs


4/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Keeping up with maintenance of a privately owned vehicle can be time consuming and tedious. Most people are usually only concerned with a one or two cars, perhaps three, but the 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Management Analysis maintains more than 1,900 vehicles assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, making their mission a daunting task.

The LRS established a vehicle control officer program as a liaison between VMA and units who have government-owned [GOV] or General Services Administration vehicles.

"The purpose of a VCO program is to reach out to each squadron to make sure they have the vehicle they need to complete the mission," said Senior Airman Brian Level, 673d LRS vehicle management analysis. "This is to ensure they cover every aspect of the vehicle that they cannot control themselves, such as a vehicle repair, requesting a vehicle or modification."

When a vehicle is due for a maintenance or annual check, the VCO will receive an email or call from the VMA stating their vehicle is due for maintenance.

"If it is a GSA vehicle, they will take it to get the maintenance done off base and report to the VMA with the mileage and date the maintenance was done," said Leve, Columbia, S.C., native. "If it is a GOV, the VCO will bring the vehicle to customer service, and we will contact the unit when the maintenance is done."

There are currently more than 160 VCO's on JBER.

VCOs help ensure effective utilization, training, operator care and scheduled maintenance of their unit's vehicle assets.

"The VCO program is crucial to have; they provide the date and information to VMA," said Tech. Sgt. Lamar Parker, VMA noncommissioned officer in charge. "It also saves us from having to inspect vehicles in more than 60 units."

One way to prolong vehicle life is to accomplish the Air Force Form 1800 before operating a vehicle. The from is required to be signed daily if a vehicle is in use or monthly if they are not using it on a day-to-day basis.

"The AF Form 1800 is one of the main items that need to be in the vehicle at all time," Level said. "Before driving the vehicle, they have to inspect and annotate it on the AF Form 1800, filling out all the required information."

To ensure the form is filled out correctly, the VMA does an inspection to make sure VCOs are doing their proper checks.

"They are required to do a 100 percent check on their fleet monthly," the five-year veteran said, "When the VCOs turn their vehicles in the customer service checks the AF Form 1800 ensuring they are filling all the blocks correctly."

The AF Form 1800s are key to documenting visual inspections.

"Vehicles without proper form and maintenance can be reported as abuse." Level said. "When they are not putting miles on the vehicle, they are messing with the utilization of the vehicle. If it shows the vehicle is not being utilized, then we are going to request to rotate it to make sure that it is being used properly."

If a safety-related discrepancy is found during the visual inspection, the vehicle needs to be turned in immediately to vehicle maintenance, while all other discrepancies must be reported within 24 hours.

"They [VCOs] have to keep us in the loop because we are trying to prolong these assets," Parker said.

For more information about the VCO program, please contact the VMA office at 552-0225.

USS George Washington Sailors Earn Japanese Good Conduct Award



From USS George Washington Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The Command Religious Ministries Department aboard the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) earned the 2014 Nippon Zenkokai Association Good Conduct Award, April 16.

The annual award, founded in 1951, is presented to individuals and organizations whose gallant or benevolent acts are remarkably beneficial to their neighbors or the general public. The award was opened in 1955 to honor foreigners who have contributed to the betterment of life in Japan.

"This award exemplifies the hard work of all George Washington Sailors, and is another shining example of the mutual respect and strong relationship between the U.S. and our host nation," said Cmdr. Daniel Mode, George Washington's command chaplain.

The Nippon Zenkokai Association is an independent non-profit organization under the control of the Cabinet Office of the Japanese government and which is committed to encouraging good conduct of people and to enhance warm, mutual relationships among the members of society.

"The U.S. alliance with Japan is the cornerstone of peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," said George Washington Command Master Chief Shaun Brahmstead. "A significant, contributing factor to this alliance is the positive interaction of our Sailors with local communities through community service projects, volunteerism and other events."

Other group winners include: Shinsen Children's Home Committee; Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka's (CFAY) Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions; and CFAY's Nile C. Kinnick High School.

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Officials Announce Winners of 2014 Environmental Awards



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2014 – Defense Department officials today announced the winners of the 2014 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards.

Each year since 1962, the department has honored individuals, teams and installations for their outstanding achievements in environmental performance, officials said, noting that over the past 10 years, DOD has invested about $42 billion to ensure the success of its environmental programs.

In fiscal 2012, DOD spent about $4.1 billion for its environmental programs -- $2 billion for environmental restoration activities, $1.9 billion for environmental quality activities, and $213.6 million for environmental technology.

These investments protect and sustain the environment while strengthening operational capacity, reducing operational costs and enhancing the well-being of military members, civilians, and their families and communities, officials said.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, praised this year’s award winners.

“Their remarkable achievements exemplify the department’s continued commitment to sustain mission readiness while cost-effectively addressing environmental issues, thereby increasing efficiencies and supporting the quality of life for service members, their families and local communities,” he said.

The nine winners chosen from 33 nominations are:

-- Natural Resources Conservation, Small Installation: Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which demonstrated the innovative use of limited funding to protect the environment while accomplishing the base’s mission;

-- Natural Resources Conservation, Individual/Team: The Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Natural Resources Team, which offered long-range solutions that ensured regulatory compliance while maximizing the use of land and water ranges to maintain mission readiness;

-- Environmental Quality, Non-Industrial Installation: Fort Hood, Texas, which led the way in environmental quality innovation and proactive community interaction, partnerships and training;

-- Environmental Quality, Individual/Team: Environmental Quality Team, Minnesota National Guard, which employed cross-functional expertise in resource protection and conservation, with special attention to informational training and stakeholder involvement;

-- Sustainability, Industrial Installation: Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Calif., which exceeded goals in energy reduction, water conservation, recycling, eliminating hazardous waste, and implementing low-impact development projects demonstrating innovative approaches to sustainability in the face of economic challenges;

-- Environmental Restoration, Installation: Marine Corps Installation East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., which demonstrated cost-effective sustainable efforts to protect human health and the environment in cleaning up contamination from past activities;

-- Environmental Restoration, Individual/Team: The Base Realignment and Closure Cleanup Team, Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Fla., which achieved environmental excellence through its quick, innovative and timely responses to environmental restoration efforts;

-- Cultural Resources Management, Installation: Fort Wainwright, Alaska, which successfully ensured that its lands remain available and in good condition, not only to support its mission, but also to preserve the cultural history that is inherent to Fort Wainwright's heritage; and

-- Environmental Excellence in Weapon System Acquisition, Large Program Individual/Team: Air Force Life Cycle Management Center F-35 Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Support Team, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which increased efficiencies in aircraft development, project prioritization, resource access, and other critical mission areas that contribute to their environmental and overall excellence in weapon system acquisition.