Monday, November 17, 2014

Alaska Guardsmen teach cadets drug awareness skills

by Alaska Army National Guard Sgt. Balinda O'Neal
AKNG Public Affairs

11/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Alaska Army National Guardsmen returned to Colony High School to teach drug awareness and coping strategies classes to Army Junior ROTC cadets in Palmer this week.

Sgt. 1st Class Diane Singh, the state resiliency coordinator, and Sgt. Monique Andrews, a victim advocate coordinator, spent three days with the cadets teaching a modified version of the Army's resiliency program paired with drug awareness.

"Part of our mission in the National Guard is to serve and protect the community and we feel implementing a program that will eventually combine sexual assault and harassment awareness, suicide prevention and drug awareness will increase over all safety and resiliency in our community," explained Singh. "The enemy is not just the terrorist on the war front, it is drugs in our home state."

The AKNG instructors incorporated activities and lessons focused on the way substances affect the body and brain.

They also covered alternatives to improve overall mental fitness without the use of substances.

Students deal with different stressors than adults, who stress about things like work and bills, Singh said. She said it's like students live in a different world.

"It's very important that we communicate in their language," explained Singh. "The response has been great, they interact and they're having a good time with the activities that we have."

"The last three years we have just had our instructors to teach the cadets," said Kali McCafferty, Colony High Army JROTC cadet battalion commander. "Having a new face that is very energetic and very excited to talk about this and address this issue is really great, and having them here as guest instructors, all the cadets are loving it."

Drug awareness and coping strategies have been taught in schools for many years and statistics show that schools using prevention programs reduce the number of kids who indulge in risky behaviors like drug use.

Singh said that she doesn't want the message to be limited to "don't do drugs"; she wants to leave the cadets with tools they can use to stay resilient.

"This program is in the pilot stage and we hope to bring it to all schools in the Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna school districts," Singh said. "The presentation is interactive, engaging, empowering, educational and fun."

McCafferty said she hopes the instructors come back to teach suicide prevention training, another mandatory annual requirement.

"Any of our mandatory classes that we have, that we can reach out to the Guard and let them come and help us out, I see it as a win for both," said 1st Sgt. Derek Heavner, Colony High Army JROTC instructor. "Not just for the mandatory classes, but to come in and teach classes on any other number of topics that we have too."

"Hopefully, we continue to do this in the future, not just Colony High School, but any school or any program could probably benefit from the same level of instruction," added Heavner.

F-35 and F-22 combine capabilities in operational integration training mission

by Staff Sgt. Marleah Robertson
33rd Fighter Wing

11/17/2014 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The U.S. Air Force deployed four F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, to Eglin Air Force Base, earlier this month for the unit's first operational integration training mission with the F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing here.

The purpose of the training was to improve integrated employment of fifth-generation assets and tactics. The training allowed both units to gain operational familiarization and capture lessons learned to improve future exercises.

"When the F-22 and F-35 come together, it brings out the strength of both airplanes," said Lt. Col. Matt Renbarger, F-35 pilot and 58th Fighter Squadron commander. "The F-22 was built to be an air-to-air superiority fighter and the F-35 was built to be a strike fighter. These airplanes complement each other and we're trying to learn how to take that from a design perspective into a tactical arena and be the most effective combat team we can be working with the F-22s."

The F-35s and F-22s flew offensive counter air, defensive counter air and interdiction missions together, exploring ways to maximize their fifth-generation capabilities.

"The missions started with basic air-to-air and surface attacks," said Maj. Steven Frodsham, F-22 pilot and 149th Fighter Squadron, Virginia Air National Guard, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. "As the training progressed, the missions developed into more advanced escort and defensive counter air fifth-generation integration missions."

The Air Force recently employed fifth-generation combat airpower for the first time against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during the most recent joint coalition campaign. The ground strike was the F-22 Raptor's combat debut, demonstrating the decisive impact fifth-generation capabilities bring to real-world scenarios.

Like the F-35, the F-22 brings an unrivaled stealth capability to the fight. However, as seen in the recent employment in Syria, it's the aircraft's ability to provide heightened situational awareness to other aircraft through the platform's integrated avionics and fused sensors - often referred to as "fusion" - that makes all the aircraft in the strike package more lethal and survivable, maximizing the full capabilities of airpower.

"Fusion and stealth - those are the two things that fifth-generation aircraft bring to the fight," said Renbarger. "It's all of those sensors coming in to give me that fused battle picture that I have displayed in my cockpit along with fifth-generation stealth that enables me to go undetected into the battlefield with that high situational awareness to do what I need to do for the fight."

The F-22 sparked the Air Force's fourth-to-fifth generation integration efforts. Now that the F-35 program is moving closer to its initial operational capability, it too can begin to integrate with the fourth-generation systems as well as its fifth-generation F-22 counterpart.

"The F-22 and F-35 squadrons integrated very well," said Frodsham. "The lessons learned and tactics developed from this training opportunity will help to form the foundation for future growth in our combined fifth-generation fighter tactics."

Lackland MDW focuses on providing 'The Perfect Patient Experience'

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

11/17/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- In another step toward building a climate of patient-centered care, the 59th Medical Wing held a seminar Oct. 15 primarily for patient advocates whose charter is to provide "The Perfect Patient Experience."

"We are passionately dedicated to a culture of patient-centered care," said Maj. Gen. Bart Iddins, 59th MDW commander.

The seminar, led by retired Chief Master Sgts. David Spector and Timmothy Dickens, focused on customer service. After deciding on eight critical areas that impact the overall patient experience, members were broken into groups, each covering a different area.

"We held the seminar as a way to share General Iddins' vision for customer service in the 59th Medical Wing," said Maj. Janet Blanchard, Business Innovation chief. "We are trying to educate all of the patient advocates on the expectation of striving for the perfect patient experience."

Blanchard explained that the traditional customer service model left advocates with divided loyalties - wanting to be the voice of patients, but also feeling a need to defend their duty sections' practices, coworkers and supervisors.

"While we applaud them [patient advocates] for their loyalty, we need to reinforce that the patient is at the center. To help with this, the chief master sergeants of the 59th Medical Wing have enthusiastically joined the 'Perfect Patient Experience' bandwagon. They are ready to assist the patient advocates."

The seminar focused on more than just training, using the critical area discussions to come up with real-world solutions. The discussions were geared to produce recommended changes in the 59th MDW, along with a 90-day implementation plan.

Iddins and the executive staff will be presented with these plans, which will be evaluated for possible implementation.

"Every health care related decision must be centered on the patient," said Iddins. "It is our privilege and honor to serve our nation's veterans and their families."

CMSAF, wife spend time with Mighty Ninety Airmen, families

by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

11/17/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, visited the 90th Missile Wing to spend time with Airmen and their spouses. The visit not only focused on the importance of the nuclear deterrence mission, but also on other key topics such as the Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Program.

"I think everyone knows, or I hope they know, that the nuclear mission is our number one priority in the United States Air Force," CMSAF Cody said. "It is our strategic deterrence against any would be adversaries for our nation and our partners."

The significance of the nuclear mission was stressed throughout the visit. CMSAF Cody noted that although a main priority, it is rarely honored or glorified.

"This is an important mission, but it is a mission where you are the silent hero," he said. "The nuclear surety of our country, this strategic deterrence, is absolutely essential to our national defense and national security. We have great men and women here at F.E. Warren and across our Air Force who secure this for our country and our nation. We could not be more appreciative and thankful for what they do."

CMSAF and CMSgt (ret) Cody visited Airmen at their work centers and in group settings, such as all-calls and round table discussions, to listen to their issues and concerns and answer their questions. They joined the sexual assault and prevention coordinator, Mary Brown, the 90th MW victim advocates, and other active duty and guard component Airmen on base, to receive feedback on the program.

"We, as an Air Force, have made progress in the area of sexual assault, response and prevention," CMSAF Cody said. "I think we are doing a lot, but we have a lot [more] to do. We will always have to work hard to ensure we create an environment where would-be predators cannot perpetrate this crime, and an environment which requires all Airmen to treat each other with dignity and respect. That takes a lifetime commitment by all of us to ensure that environment exists."

The Air Force has recently focused their sexual assault and prevention efforts toward the perpetrators and those who actively seek out and cause harm to others.

Athena Cody emphasized how it's critical for people to know where attention needs to be placed, and that's on the predators. 

"It isn't a random act; perpetrators have an agenda and are looking to find victims," she said. "We need to acknowledge and begin to eliminate those environments that allow them to wreak havoc or perpetrate a crime. I think once we begin to think that way, it makes it an environment where predators can't operate."

With the prevention of sexual assault a constant objective, the Codys said they left the SAPR round table with a positive impression of the SAPR team's efforts and their dedication to fellow Airmen.  However, SAPR programs and events aren't the only place where the Air Force is making strides.

Throughout the Air Force, recent initiatives have looked to Airmen to find solutions to save money, overcome challenges or streamline processes. One such initiative in the Air Force Global Strike Command is the Force Improvement Program.

"What's great about FIP is it puts the majority of the things we can get after in this part of our Air Force into the hands of the Airmen who execute the mission every day," CMSAF Cody said. "It really is about putting issues into the hands of innovative Airmen who do the jobs and having them figure out better ways to do it. We find better ways to sustain and support not only our country or our partners, but ourselves, making a better quality of life and a better quality of work."

With such a strong emphasis on performance and innovation, an added focus has been on teaching Airmen to be resilient in times of trouble or stress. Learning to cope with stress often varies from person-to-person.

"There are a lot of different things someone can do to help with stress and it all falls on the resiliency of the person," CMSAF Cody said. "You have to figure out a way to have an outlet from it. You can't let it consume you. If you don't have some way to deal with the different stressors of life, the different stressors of service, you are going to be over-stressed."

One way to help deal with stress comes from the ability to determine what things you can control, and those you have no control over, he added.  

"Most things that we can't control are things that cause the greatest amount of stress," he said. "You either figure out a way to make a difference, to relieve that stress, or you have to figure out a way to move on. Sometimes, that is much easier said than done."

One of the ways CMSAF Cody said he dealt with stress was having the support of his wife and children by his side.

"Our most precious resource has been our family, the way our family has always been there for each other in those stressful times," he said. "Even though it doesn't eliminate the stress from happening, it really helps you work through it. You also have to have a teammate in life. It can be your spouse, it can be a friend, it can be a family member, but you have to have someone you can talk to, someone you can confide in, people that can help you put things in the right perspective."

Athena Cody stressed that a successful family has to be a team.

"The both of you have to step outside of traditional rules, out of those expectations, and develop a relationship that works both at home, and at work," she said. "When you are able to do that and can communicate and really share your needs, you will be successful. The military lifestyle never changes [and] work never stops. There's a blending of work and life. Families have to bring balance to that, reminding the member who is wearing the uniform where to set priorities when at home."

After visiting the base and meeting with 90th MW Airmen and families, the consensus was not only how important F.E. Warren's mission is to the nation, but how that mission is only possible with the dedication and support of the entire team.  

"We really appreciate the opportunity to spend so much time with the Airmen and their families, to have the opportunity to hear some of their stories and to have the ability to thank them for what they do every day for our nation and our partners," CMSAF Cody said. "Their service and sacrifice is not lost on anybody in our military, certainly not in our leadership in the Air Force."

Hagel Thanks Ft. Campbell Troops for anti-Ebola Efforts

By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel thanked troops at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell today for making a “huge difference” in working to contain the spread of Ebola in West Africa, and characterized the deadly disease as being as serious a threat to the world as terrorism.

“You all understand the perils, the threats, the challenges that face our country,” Hagel told troops during a visit to the base as he made his way back to Washington from four days on the road visiting bases and service personnel around the country. “The challenges and threats that face our country in the world today are not just from Islamic fundamentalists or from terrorists but from health diseases and pandemic health threats that threaten the world. Ebola is part of that overall scope of threats.”

Hundreds of troops from Fort Campbell are among the more than 2,200 U.S. service personnel deployed to West Africa as part of Operation United Assistance, the military operation that is supporting U.S and international efforts to stop the spread of Ebola. The disease has killed more than 5,100 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea since March. The United Assistance mission is being led from Liberia by Fort Campbell’s commander, Army Maj. Gen. Gary. J. Volesky, who also commands the 101st Airborne Division.

Hagel credited the military as being perhaps the best equipped institution in the world for helping to stop the spread of Ebola and told troops that their contribution has made a significant difference. “I do think that what you all have been responsible for so far has made a huge difference in containing Ebola,” Hagel said, but cautioned that it is too early to determine how long the mission in West Africa will last

Airman stays resilient after medical emergency last year

by Airman 1st Class Kiana Brothers
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

11/12/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Four days after giving birth to a baby boy, Senior Airman India King was medically evacuated to St. Louis University Hospital. When she arrived in August of 2013, the doctors discovered she was actively hemorrhaging in her brain, which required a total of three surgeries.

"It was very surprising. I knew I had high blood pressure from the pregnancy, but I didn't know it was enough to cause something this traumatic," said King, 375th Medical Support Squadron Medical Laboratory Technician.

She was at home when she said she suddenly felt a large amount of pain in her head.

"I can't even describe the amount of pain I was in," she said. "I started thrashing around because the pain was so severe; I couldn't even open my eyes."

During her stay at the hospital, King also had a stroke due to her veins shutting down and not providing enough oxygen to her brain. She was treated and a couple days later she finally woke up to her fiancé and parents in the hospital room.

It has been a long year of adjustments, and she is still recovering with the help of her family and co-workers.

"It definitely changed a lot of things," she said. "At first, I had some left sided disabilities that prevented me from holding my baby and two-year-old son on that side."

It also limited her capabilities to do simple things like carry groceries, but it hasn't affected her ability to perform her duties as a lab technician. The Air Force conducted a medical evaluation board and determined that she can remain on active duty with a few accommodations that will help her as she continues to recover.

During this time, King has leaned on her fiancé, Larry, and her co-workers for help.

"Larry is a valuable support system for me right now, and we have a very good balance of working through my limitations," she said.

Another person who supports King is her mentor, a retired master sergeant, who assists her with the children while she continues her education.

"I don't want this to stop me from achieving goals of getting my degree and being able to help my kids with homework in a couple years," said King, who is studying for a certification and has two more classes for a Community College of the Air Force degree.

This will help her achieve a management position within her career field, something that she feels is more physically manageable.

To help with mobility and coordination skills, she's found that doing projects that she found on Pinterest is helpful. She and her children enjoy making crafts and desserts.

"That's what we do for fun as a family," King said, "It helps my motor skills as well. My family and I bond over this and I get to actively participate."

It's not exactly how she saw her career going as a laboratory technician, but she can still participate in a career field that she really enjoys, she said. If there are issues, her co-workers are quick to help.

"If you didn't know her background story, you wouldn't realize that she is dealing with that kind of stuff," said Tech. Sgt. Amanda Sandry, 375th MDSS Medical Laboratory Technician. "I am very proud of her with what she has accomplished so far, and what she has been through. She continues to fight back and handle everything well."

DoD to Highlight Warrior, Family Care at Rehabilitation Expo

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 – The Defense Department will host a rehabilitation expo as part of Warrior Care Month as it continues its commitment to supporting wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers.

James Rodriguez, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Office of Warrior Care Policy, discussed his office’s role in supporting wounded warriors, Warrior Care Month and the rehabilitation expo during an interview today with DoD News.

Office of Warrior Care Policy’s Role

“The Office of Warrior Care Policy has various programs designed to support recovering … warriors that are wounded, ill [or] injured,” he said.

“What we have,” Rodriguez said, “are programs that are designed to provide assistance in education employment, federal internships through our Operation Warfighter program, recovery care coordination care programs as well as … resources available to individuals.”

The office also has programs designed around adaptive sports, he said, which allow individuals to participate in sports as part of their recovery and rehabilitation process.

“What we ultimately want to do is have them recover, reintegrate and transition either back into uniform or transition into a new civilian environment,” Rodriguez said.

Warrior Care Month

November, designated as Warrior Care Month, is a recognition which began under former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to highlight resources available to wounded warriors, their families and caregivers, according to Rodriguez.

It allows the department to demonstrate the importance of what it means to support wounded warriors in the recovery process, Rodriguez said.

Warrior Care Month also allows DoD to highlight the available resources, he said, and to provide information that people may not know about certain recovery programs.

Meaning of the Warrior Care Month Theme

“Show of Strength” is the theme for Warrior Care Month, which Rodriguez said serves as a reminder of the “all-in” process of supporting injured troops and their families.

“We are supporting our warriors, our family members [and] our caregivers. So the programs and policies we have, have to be all-encompassing,” Rodriguez said. “So we have to make sure that we don’t forget about one particular audience throughout this entire process.”

Rehabilitation Expo Provides Opportunities

Rodriguez said the rehabilitation expo, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Pentagon’s second floor Apex 1-2, will provide opportunities for his office and the military services to support wounded warriors and their families.

“[It’s] an opportunity to highlight the resources we have available to support our wounded warriors and their families, as well as the caregivers,” he said.

“It brings a lot of various agencies into the Pentagon,” Rodriguez said, “… and allows them to provide information and resources to the caregivers, warriors and their families who are going to be here.”

Many nonprofit organizations will participate, he said, to highlight their resources that support wounded warriors, their families and caregivers.

The Office of Warrior Care Policy will also be there, Rodriguez said, along with the service departments that represent their individual branches of service to highlight their resources.

Rodriguez noted the expo will provide an opportunity for his office to learn directly from wounded warriors about their needs.

“It allows us to do things that we haven’t done -- to learn really -- from wounded warriors about the programs that we can develop to support them,” he said.

Rehabilitation Expo at a Glance

There will be quite a few things on display during the expo, Rodriguez said, as he explained some of the programs to be highlighted.

There’s going to be art, he said, as well as sculptures created by some of the wounded warriors as part of their recovery process.

“They got into art therapy, they got into sculpting, they got into adaptive sports,” Rodriguez said. “But they’re going to highlight a lot of these particular things that they’re going to have at the expo.

“Some of the wounded warriors are going to be on hand to talk about their experiences,” he continued, “[and] to talk about how they use art, sculpting [and] adaptive sports [as] part of their recovery process.”

Rodriguez said it will be a “good opportunity” for people who are unfamiliar with some of the programs provided by the services branches and the Office of Warrior Care Policy.

“It’s going to be an opportunity to interact with the service members to see the things that they’ve utilized to help them in the recovery process,” he said.