Military News

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

AF doctor garners multiple awards for his contributions to military medicine

by Staff Sgt. Kevin Iinuma
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs


10/7/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- A doctor from the 59th Medical Wing received multiple honors recently for his research in treating wounded service members.

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Vikhyat Bebarta, director of the 59th Medical Wing En Route Care Research Center (ECRC) and chief of medical toxicology at the San Antonio Military Medical Center on nearby Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, was notified he will receive the Air Force Association's 2014 Paul W. Myers award and the National Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Basic Science award for his contributions to medicine.

Bebarta was instrumental in creating the ECRC, a premier research center charged with providing war fighters with the absolute best life-saving medical treatment. The center is considered the cornerstone for war fighter health care research supporting the Air Force Medical Service and the Joint Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

According to the Air Force Association citation, Bebarta earned the Paul Myers award as "the Air Force Medical Corps officer who has made the most significant contribution to the continued good health of the men and women of the U.S. Air Force." Bebarta received the award Sept. 15 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.

"I am humbled to receive this prestigious award," said Bebarta. "The last 10 years of war have brought many new innovations in medicine, and developed a new generation of combat physicians."

In coordination with other military and civilian trauma leaders, Bebarta and his team are instituting lessons learned from the more than 12 years of war. They continue to make advancements in wounded warrior and beneficiary trauma treatment through research and innovations in health care.

"However, the greatest innovations and lessons do not come from me or from us as physicians, they come from the injured Soldier in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan whose letters home we will never read, the Marine at Helmond Province whose heroic stories we'll never hear, and the Airman or Sailor whose remains arrived at Dover, Delaware, reverently draped with a U.S. flag, and whose family I will never meet."

Bebarta and his team also received the National Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Basic Science award.  It is presented to only one of 600 abstracts reviewed each year. Bebarta and his team have earned a SAEM award for an unprecedented fourth time in the last six years, a notable achievement considering civilian researchers from competing universities are also in the running.

The research, "A Randomized Trial of Intravenous Hydroxocobalamin compared to Whole Blood for Hemorrhagic Shock Resuscitation in a Prehospital Model," was presented at the 2014 SAEM Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas.  The society's decision was based on reviews of his abstract, manuscript, and presentation at the meeting.

Bebarta's name will be announced in the next issue of the SAEM Newsletter; he and his team members will be recognized and presented the award at the SAEM annual meeting in San Diego, California in May 2015.

"The patients we care for and their families have shaped me as researcher, a mentor, a physician, and an officer," said Bebarta. "I am truly humbled by the experience."

JBSA-Lackland Airman recaptures thousands of dollars in orthotic services

by Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs


10/7/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- In a climate where everyone is thinking of fiscal responsibility, the 59th Medical Wing considers it crucial to look for ways to save American taxpayer dollars while continuing to provide world-class health care.

This mindset is what led Staff Sgt. Taylor Hilliard, Business Innovation NCO in charge, to look at his regular job as an orthotic technician and ask questions about how much money was being spent on outsourced orthotic products.

"Our wing vice commander, Col. (Glenn) Yap, told me the clearest way to save money is to recapture leakage for services that are going downtown," said Hilliard. "So I asked if I could get a list of orthotic-related services that were being sent out."

The San Antonio Military Health System provided Hilliard with a list that showed about $700,000 worth of orthotic services are outsourced annually to medical firms in the local area. These products include anything from custom-made shoe inserts and leg braces to off-the-shelf, knee, ankle, wrist and back braces.

He then met with Master Sgt. Sean McClintock, the Orthopedic and Rehabilitation flight chief, to figure out why these services were not being done in-house.

"We met with (the) referral management (office), and looked at the policies and procedures we had in place to decide what was being done here and what was sent downtown," said Hilliard.

Working together, Hilliard and McClintock found ways to maximize the services that were available for patients on base and provided referral management with an expanded list of produts and services that the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center is able to provide.

"Wilford Hall's orthotic lab is the only military outpatient lab in San Antonio," said Hilliard. "While expenses for active-duty military members are typically covered, dependent family members aren't covered for outsourced custom orthotic products, which can cost patients up to $500 in out of pocket expenses.

"Plus, we are able to provide quality products with convenience for patients who work on or live near the base," he said.

As a result of Hilliard's innovative way to save money, the 59th MDW is now postured to reclaim about $150,000 in TRICARE money for orthotic services within the next year.

"Because of his insight, the wing is in a position to redirect vital health care dollars," said Maj. Janet Blanchard, chief of Business Innovation. "It's just one example of our commitment. We were able to find a way to save money and enhance the patient experience. We have to continue to think outside of the box to build a climate that is patient-centered."

Hurricane Hunter earns 300th 'penny'

by Master Sgt. Jessica Kendziorek
403rd Wing Public Affairs


10/2/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Climbing back into her seat after being tossed around by turbulence, she noticed the radio was filled with absolute silence.

This was the first flight that Lt. Col. Valerie Hendry, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron aerial weather officer remembers vividly.

"We were flying into Super Typhoon Dot near the Philippines," said Hendry.  "It wasn't my first flight, but it was my first solo flight as a weather officer."

The flight continued heading into the eye of the storm, through the heavy winds and turbulence.  After breaking through the eye wall, the pilot broke the silence by announcing on the radio that they had a broken wing.

"The load (master) and I jumped up and ran to the window before realizing it was a joke," she said. "But at that point, the tension was broken and we continued (our flight)."

Hendry said that it was the worst turbulence she had ever experienced in her 28 seasons of hurricane hunting.

On July 4, 2014, while flying into the eye of Hurricane Arthur, Hendry joined the small list of members in the "300 Club," as the Hurricane Hunters call it.  She made her 300th penny, or penetration, into the eye of a hurricane.

"While it is by no means a record for 'pennys', Lt. Col. Troy "Bear" Anderson, 53rd WRS pilot, and I are the latest to reach the "300 Club" mark," said Hendry.

Hendry said her first penny was Hurricane Claudette in 1985.

"This storm was actually going extra-tropical at the time," she said. "It had a cold-core, which is not like a typical hurricane at all."

Anderson said that his first and 300th flight weren't very memorable to him, but other storms stood out in his mind. One such storm was only a tropical storm.

"This storm was intense with electrical activity," said Anderson.  "I saw lightening in a range of colors: red, orange, yellow, blue, purple and white.  The only color I didn't see was green."

Remembering other storms, Anderson recalled Hurricane Gilbert, a Category 5 storm in 1988.

"The eye of the storm was very distinct," said Anderson.  "Inside the eye, most eye walls look like they have fluffy or fuzzy cloud edges, but Gilbert's eye wall was like a solid white mass."

In 1987 Hendry flew into Hurricane Emily.  This flight was nearly cancelled, but it appeared to have weakened while heading toward Bermuda, but at the last minute a flight was sent into the storm.

"This mission was one of my most difficult ones, because my calculator had quit and I had to do the calculations by hand," said Hendry.  "This storm hit as a Category 2 hurricane and warnings were issued with only 6 hours of notice."

That was only the first of four storms named Emily that Hendry flew.  She flew into Hurricanes Emily in 1993 and 2005 also, and Tropical Storm Emily in 1999.

"The list of names for storms repeats every six years," said Hendry.  "And when you see the same names coming up again and again, you realize you've been at this a while."

Anderson and Hendry also flew one unique mission together, where they flew two storms on the same flight:  Hurricane Iris and Tropical Storm Karen. 

Hendry said that Karen was being absorbed into the larger storm Iris, and was not very discernible on satellite.

"We were surprised to find it was holding its own once we flew through it in the fringes of Iris," she said.

Both Hendry and Anderson remarked that Hurricane Sandy was memorable, but for different reasons.

"There was a much larger wind field, about 80 miles, with large bands of thunderstorms," said Anderson.  "We released extra dropsondes for more readings."

Hendry remembers ice collecting on the wings.

"We entered the storm at our typical altitude of 10,000 feet, but once the ice started collecting, we dropped below 5,000 feet," she said.  "But it was still slightly below freezing on one side of the storm and I even saw snow.  Now this was a first for me in a hurricane."

Storms are sometimes memorable for reasons other than the storm itself.  Being called upon to help conduct Search and Rescue missions for ships caught in these storms.  Hendry was present for two SAR flights: Hurricane Roxanne in 1995 and Hurricane Julio in 2014.

"Searching for survivors in turbulent winds is difficult," said Hendry.  "You feel helpless to do anything but circle above them while waiting for a rescue plan, but you now it is better than what the survivors are experiencing in the water below."

Hendry said that there is no better job than being a Hurricane Hunter because she can take her fascination with severe weather and love of flying, combine them, and make a difference in the lives of others.

She hopes to see the number of "pennys" continue to add up as she continues serving  her 28th storm season as a Hurricane Hunter.

Air Force Traffic Now Flowing through JRSS in San Antonio

by Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

10/7/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- The 26th Network Operations Squadron  and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) led Joint Regional Security Stack (JRSS) Migration Team (JMT) successfully migrated Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland network traffic through the newly installed JRSS at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) on Sept. 14.

The migration supported more than 36,000 Air Force members and is an important milestone in the Department of Defense realizing the Joint Information Environment (JIE).

"This was an enormous effort by the Joint Migration Team," said Lt. Col. Jim Hewitt, 26th NOS commander and JMT director.  "While the team deployed a similar security architecture currently in the Pentagon, they did so in a fraction of the time."

The migration and consolidation of network capabilities throughout the DoD were mandated at various levels, from Congress down to the Secretary of Defense and below.  These mandates included the desire to move to a single security architecture to minimize the attack surface accessible by malicious actors across the globe.  In the case of JBSA, the attack surface was reduced by one third.

To implement this single security architecture, DISA, the Army and the Air Force agreed to and began working toward a network architecture solution that meets the needs of all involved.  The Navy agreed to migrate starting in 2017. The JRSS is the infrastructure (integrated suite of network and defensive hardware and software) chosen to support the single security architecture.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Wooton, Headquarters Air Force Space Command communications and information director, said, "Air Force traffic within JBSA is flowing through the JRSS node there.  This represents Air Force initial operational capability for JRSS and we now join the Army officially in that status."

Through the dedication of multiple engineers, information technology professionals and Air Force cyber weapon system partners, a solution was developed to migrate JBSA-Lackland users through multiple routing changes.  The implementation plan included careful network traffic monitoring for customers at JBSA-Lackland resulting in no user disruptions to the base user population.

"We will be able to deploy 11 stacks across the continental United States and just migrated over 36,000 total customers (JBSA-Lackland and Fort Sam Houston) behind the JBSA stack in less than one year," Hewitt said.

The JMT installed network equipment and worked hand in hand with DISA and Army partners to move network traffic and security devices from the Air Force Gateways to the JBSA JRSS.

"All in all, it was another example of extraordinary effort by the entire team involved," said Wooton, "including the AFSPC staff, 24th Air Force, Life Cycle Management Center, the Air Force Network Integration Center, the Cyberspace Support Squadron, and Air Staff, as well as folks from U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and DISA."

Rodriguez Pledges Every Effort to Protect Military From Ebola



By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – U.S. troops deployed to Liberia to help stop the spread of Ebola could come in contact with people who have contracted the virus, but everything possible will be done to mitigate risks to service personnel, their families and the American public, the commander of U.S. Africa Command said today.

There are no plans for the U.S. military to provide direct care to Ebola patients, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez told reporters at the Pentagon. Personnel from the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center will, however, test for Ebola at mobile labs from samples collected from area clinics and health care providers.

Trained to guard against exposure

Rodriguez said the three or four people who will staff each lab will be trained to the highest level and will be prepared to guard against exposure.

“They can operate in a nuclear, biological and chemical environment,” he noted. “They are specifically trained to do that, and that's their primary skill set.”

Pressed by reporters to explain the risks to Americans operating the mobile labs, Rodriguez strongly discounted the likelihood of contamination. “It’s a very, very high standard that these people have operated in all their lives, and this is their primary skill,” he emphasized. “This is not just medical guys trained to do this.”

National security priority

Seven such labs are expected to be set up in Liberia for Ebola testing. The U.S. military presence in the West African nation is expected to grow to up to 4,000, with personnel establishing a hospital facility and providing logistics and engineering support, as well as training of up to 500 health care workers per week to help treat patients and prevent the spread of the virus, which President Barack Obama yesterday called a national security priority.

Seventeen Ebola treatment facilities are expected to be set up in Liberia by November, Rodriguez said, acknowledging that the pace of operations has been challenging. “Their whole nation is overwhelmed,” the general said. “Their health facilities are overwhelmed. That’s all broken down, so we have to bring in everything at the same time.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the Ebola outbreak in West Africa the largest in history, with more than 3,400 deaths reported. Nearly that number of cases alone has been reported in Liberia, where the disease continues to spread.

Ensuring safety of U.S. personnel

About 240 Defense Department personnel are currently in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, and another 108 are in nearby Senegal in support of U.S government efforts to stop the spread of the virus. More personnel are expected to flow into the region in the coming days, and Rodriguez said everything will be done to ensure their safety.

“By providing pre-deployment training, adhering to strict medical protocols while deployed and carrying out carefully planned reintegration measures based on risk and exposure,” the general told reporters, “I am confident that we can ensure our service members’ safety and the safety of their families and the American people.”

Rodriguez said the U.S. military could be deployed to Liberia in significant numbers for up to a year to support efforts led by the U.S. Agency for International Development to stop the spread of the virus.

Airmen read their way to brighter Air Force future

by Senior Airman Aja Heiden
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/2/2014 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE Fla. -- General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, called on Airmen to submit suggestions for the 2015 Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force Professional Reading Program, which was created as a way of developing Airmen.

The goal of this reading program is to develop a common frame of reference among all Air Force members.

Each year the reading list centers on themes of leadership, strategic context, forward thinking and military heritage.

"As a whole, the reading list is very relatable, "said Senior Airmen Giovanny Figueredo, air transportation technician for 70th Aerial Port Squadron here.

The program aids in the development of Airmen, from the most junior enlisted to the senior officer.

"The CSAF 2014 reading list was established to teach understanding and comprehension of key values to every Airmen, like leadership and compassion," said Figueredo. "The entire list offers a new perspective on how to be a better Airmen and overall person."

The past years have brought recommendations for books, articles, films, art work and Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) talks that tell stories of prisoners of war, embody the core values, and give life to the stories of service members.

"A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II" by Adam Makos is a book from last year's reading list which demonstrates a characteristic today's Airmen can learn from.

"This was a book I found to be very meaningful," said Chief Master Sgt. Katdo Robinson, 482nd Fighter Wing acting Command Chief Master Sergeant. "It's about a German airman who displayed great courage and saved the life of an American Airman in World War II. I'm about doing the right thing. It might not be the most popular choice, but this is something I live by."

Robinson advises Airmen to read the books on the upcoming 2015 reading list.

"The material seems to correlate with the times and expand on what's going on in the Air Force," said Robinson.

Although the recommended material discusses a theme relevant to today's Air Force, it also describes victories and battles from the past.

"The biggest benefit from the materials on the reading list is the historical education they provide," said Robinson. "It helps Airmen understand how we arrived where we are and see the evolution from 1947 to the current war fighter in 2014."

Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Galley Wins 6th Consecutive 5-Star Accreditation



By Mark O. Piggott, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Public Affairs

YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- Scudder Hall Galley at Naval Weapons Station Yorktown (WPNSTA Yorktown) was awarded its sixth consecutive 5-Star accreditation, Oct. 2, from Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA).

The 5-Star accreditation for food service excellence is based on the review team's on-site evaluation of strict criteria regarding the overall quality of food service, including records, inventory practices, training, sanitation, and food preparation.

"The 5-Star accreditation represents what you do every day, which is a level of service that your customers depend on," said Mr. Bill Dorris, CNRMA Food Service Director. "When you can meet that criteria, day-after-day, it means a lot."

"The [galley's] '5-Star' selection as a premier food service operation is attributed to the professionalism and commitment to provide exceptional quality of life for all our patrons," said Lt. Cmdr. Bobby Allen, WPNSTA Yorktown Supply Officer. "Success in this competition takes a total-team effort."

The level of excellence established by food service operations is raising the "quality of life standard" throughout the Navy. The award serves as the standard for the top contenders to be evaluated on a point system, and recommended for contention by the Ney Ashore Accreditation Review Team for the annual Captain Edward F. Ney Memorial Awards.

According to Dorris, the 5-Star accreditation represents why patrons keep coming back to the galleys across the Navy.

"The quality of the food served is the most important aspect of the 5-Star accreditation because you're only as good as your last meal," Dorris explained. "Customer service and quality of food is the most important aspect of the 5-Star accreditation and you're superb at what you do."

"You all did this as a team over a period of a year," added Captain Paul Haebler, commanding officer, WPNSTA Yorktown. "It's not a snapshot, it's a long term look and you should be very proud of what you've accomplished."
Everyone agrees that the big winners in this competition are not the food service staff at Scudder Hall galley, but the many patrons who directly benefit from their outstanding accomplishments.

Reaper squadron armistice at Holloman AFB

by Senior Airman Daniel Liddicoet
49th Wing Public Affairs


10/7/2014 - HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Holloman Air Force Base is home to the two primary Flight Training Units for MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators. With Remotely Piloted Aircraft on the forefront of our conflicts abroad, ensuring morale and the success of their training mission is more critical now than ever.

To bolster camaraderie and further training consistency among their students, the 9th and 29th Attack Squadrons collaborated through a series of friendly challenges, ultimately culminating in the signing of an armistice to signify the unity of their mission.

"We wanted to ensure that the two squadrons were as aligned as possible," explained Lt. Col. Steven Beattie, 29th Attack Squadron commander. "So I met with the commander of the 9th to come up with a way to maintain our own separate personalities and character while still boosting morale and camaraderie."

In order to accomplish their goal of synchronizing training across the two units, the commanders established their own unique and creative methods.

"We wanted to get some morale going between the two squadrons because our training can be such a grind," said Lt. Col. Juan Torres 9th Attack Squadron commander. "So we set up spirit missions to encourage some friendly competition between the squadrons. Part of it was also reinforcing our heritage and pride."

"The spirit missions were really a way for us to throw some fuel on the fire leading up to the armistice," said Beattie, "which we had scheduled for Sept. 29th to represent the numbers of each squadron."

Encouraging a healthy rivalry not only served to make the squadrons more motivated, but it also increased morale.

"The armistice had an overwhelmingly positive effect on our squadrons," said Beattie, "and I feel that it really strengthened some of the ties between us."

Although both squadrons have their own separate legacies to maintain and uphold, their differences do not preclude them from working together toward the same mission.

"We are hoping to establish an annual tradition," said Torres, "so that we can continue to rekindle the bond we've formed and remember above all else what we're here to accomplish."

727th Airman moves cargo at moment's notice

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


10/6/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Senior Airman Felicia Zimmer is a 727th Air Mobility Squadron Air Freight specialist from Nashville, Tennessee, and she said she chose her career field wisely.

"I believe that my career field is one that offers Airmen so many opportunities. We are able to develop and learn many types of skills throughout our work," Zimmer explained.

Some of her duties include moving cargo and passengers alike across the globe and the Air Force cargo can include different types of mail, medical specimens, blood, household goods, courier cargo, human remains and mission capability cargo by way of air and ground. She also performs additional duties such as joint inspection while still acting as another liaison for her unit alongside a unit that may be mobilized at a moment's notice, ensuring cargo is airworthy and documented properly.

"There is no one set routine or day for my career field. You have to be able to think on your feet, quickly and critically," the Nashville native said.

The Airman said she enjoys her role in the Air Force and her time working in a small team.

"The part that I most enjoy about my job is the friendships and the relationships that I build. When you work together night and day, sometimes in small groups, to achieve such a large scale mission, you really come together as a team," the specialist reflected. "You learn to work off each other's strengths and overcome the weaknesses of the group as a whole. There is definitely a team concept within my career field."

Her team is diverse and different from other work stations around RAF Mildenhall.

"I work more with the Ministry of Defense civilians than I do with Air Force military members most of the time, it's great! I love working with the MOD," she exclaimed. "They have the best stories, know the best places to go and eat, the local treasures, the best deals and they treat me like family."

She said she has built a close relationship with members of the host nation in her work center.

"I am the only female freighter right now with about 30 MOD personnel and they really watch out for me, treat me like a sister, daughter or what have you," Zimmer added. "They are some of the best people that I have ever had the honor to meet and work with."

Since arriving at RAF Mildenhall, with the help of colleagues, she said she has grown as a person and as an Airman.

"Professionally, I would have to say that I have allowed myself to really open my ears and listen. I've tried to step up my game at work, being more accountable for my actions, supporting my supervisors, especially my NCO in charge, and learning all that I can from them," she explained. "Once you step out of your own way as an Airman, it's amazing what you will learn."

As a service member, she knows days don't always go exactly as planned. Zimmer said she must adapt and overcome in order to push forward and lead her fellow Airmen.

"Strive every day to be the best Airmen that you can be and learn from your mistakes, your opportunities and those individuals around you," Zimmer stated. "Learn that the world is bigger than you, strive to see the bigger picture of the Air Force and understand your role."