Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Soldiers of 8th FST come home

by Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Love
4/25 IBCT (ABN) Public Affairs

11/18/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Family and fellow Soldiers gathered at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska to welcome eight members of the 8th Forward Surgical Team, 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division home from deployment Nov. 4.

"I don't know what to do," a visibly-excited Jackie Triolo said to a fellow spouse waiting in an airport terminal. "Should I run up to him or wait here? What should I do?"

When her husband, Spc. Anthony Triolo, walked into the terminal, she broke from the crowd in the concourse to hug him.

The eight redeployed soldiers were also welcomed back by the of the 4/25th IBCT commander, Army Col. Matthew McFarlane, as well as several other leaders from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The team was attached to Combined-Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan for the nine-month deployment to support the special operations mission there.

"We did missions all over Afghanistan, so I've been just about everywhere there," said Army Maj. Ernest Dorema, officer in-charge of the critical care trauma nurse section of the 8th FST. "We spread out and got to work immediately. We built a hospital and helped a lot of people, so our footprint will be there for a long time."

Secretary: Russia’s Actions ‘Dangerous And Irresponsible’

By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today called Russia’s actions in Ukraine “dangerous and irresponsible” and said the tensions provoked by Moscow have probably done more to unify NATO than anything else in years.

“It has brought the world together in a way where they are isolating themselves by their actions,” Hagel said of Russia, as he took questions from Marines during a visit to North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune.

‘Very Dangerous’ Actions

One service member asked the defense secretary if he envisioned the United States becoming more involved in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Russia’s actions toward Ukraine, as well as stepped-up Russian military air flights over European airspace and plans for similar flights over the Gulf of Mexico are “very dangerous,” Hagel said.

“The violations of sovereignty and international law that the Russians have perpetuated continue to require responses,” the defense secretary said. The United States is working with NATO “in shifting our entire rotational rapid deployment focus,” he added.

U.S. European Command chief Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove , who is also NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, has said Russian military equipment continues to flow across the border into Ukraine, something Russia denies.

USS Fort Worth Commences 16-Month Rotational Deployment to Western Pacific

By Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) departed its homeport of San Diego Nov. 17 for a 16-month rotational deployment to Singapore in support of the Navy's strategic rebalance to the Pacific.

Building on the achievements of USS Freedom's (LCS 1) inaugural 10-month deployment to Southeast Asia from March to December 2013, Fort Worth will visit more ports, engage more regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and expand LCS capabilities, including embarking and using the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV).

"There is no doubt that LCS brings an enhanced capability to the Asia-Pacific region," said Vice Adm. Kenneth E. Floyd, U.S. 3rd Fleet commander. "We are proud of the crews for the countless hours of hard work in preparation for this inaugural deployment and we're looking forward to Fort Worth building on the successes and lessons learned from Freedom's deployment last year."

Fort Worth, with embarked LCS Crew 104, recently completed its final certifications for its deployment during Task Group Exercise off the coast of Southern California.

After departing San Diego, Fort Worth will visit ports in Hawaii and Guam before arriving in its maintenance and logistics hub of Singapore. The ship will remain homeported in San Diego and all crew members will live aboard.

Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept, swapping fully trained crews roughly every four months. This concept will allow Fort Worth to deploy six months longer than Freedom, which swapped crews once in 10 months, extending LCS forward presence and reducing crew fatigue for the 16-month deployment. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship.

Like Freedom, Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for the entire deployment, to include two 30 mm guns, two 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIB) and two 8-member maritime security boarding teams.

For the first time, Fort Worth will also deploy with an aviation detachment from the "Magicians" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron. The aviation detachment will consist of one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned autonomous helicopter. The Fire Scout will complement the MH-60R by extending the range and endurance thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness.

"The crew has put in long hours and hard work to ensure both they and the ship are ready for Fort Worth's maiden deployment," said Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104 commanding officer. "We look forward to arriving in theater and quickly becoming a valuable asset to the 7th Fleet commander, engaging with our allies and partner nations in the Pacific."

This is the second overseas deployment of the Navy's LCS platform. Fast, agile and mission-focused, LCS is designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.

Luke Thunderbolts celebrate wingman day

by Senior Airman Grace Lee
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/18/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." -- Phil Jackson

Luke Thunderbolts came together to observe wingman day in a unique way -- watching the Phoenix Banner Wheelchair Suns basketball team dominate Luke Air Force Base commanders during two basketball games Nov. 7 in the Bryant Fitness Center.

The event opened with a video message from Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander.

"Our goal here today is to build and sustain a thriving and resilient Air Force community that fosters whole-person fitness," Pleus said. "Our focus is on the well-being and care for ourselves, each other and our families so we can be more resilient to the many challenges military service brings."

After Pleus' message, Airmen were shown a short video clip that focused on honoring the strength in team before the first basketball game began.

While the highlight of the day was watching basketball, it was important to understand the deeper meaning of how the game relates to wingman day.

"The purpose of the game is to demonstrate how working as a team creates momentum, improves moral, adds strength to the individual and could even save lives," said Sharen Kozak, 56th FW community support coordinator.

The day's festivities also highlighted Wounded Warriors and how they have persevered through adversity as individuals and team members through the four pillars of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness domains -- physical, mental, social and spiritual.

During halftime, morale was especially high after the Phoenix Suns Dancers and the Suns Gorilla interacted with Airmen and tossed out prizes.

Though Luke commanders were given many advantages to win, the end result of the game was a loss.

"For me, wingman day means bringing all the Airmen together, raising our morale, allowing us to have fun together and get to know each other," said Staff Sgt. Sam Hebreo, 56th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician. "The game is going great. I did not expect it to bring such great vibes, and it's exciting."

For one Phoenix Banner Wheelchair Suns basketball team player, coming out to Luke was about showing others what they can achieve through misfortune.

"I feel pretty good about today's first game," said Ryan Stevens, Phoenix Banner Wheelchair Suns basketball team player. "I think we have shown that individuals can overcome adversity to be a positive image for their team, in the community and in their environment, whatever that may be. We wanted to be a part of wingman day to support our Airmen and those who have served -- both past and present."

Pentagon Expo to Feature Art Therapy for ‘Invisible Wounds’

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2014 – Art therapy has evolved in the last several years as treatment to help service members express what they want to “symbolize about themselves” after suffering the invisible wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a Defense Department art therapist said yesterday.

Those invisible wounds are traumatic brain injuries and psychological health conditions such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, noted Melissa Walker, an art therapist and the healing arts program coordinator at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

“Art therapy gives service members a nonverbal way to express themselves and make those invisible wounds visible,” she said.

Pentagon employees will be able to see some of those expressions this week through the works of art created by service members who went through Walker’s program. Fifteen pieces of art will be on display Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Warrior Care Month Rehabilitation Expo at Apex 1 and 2 of the Pentagon’s second floor.

A Show of Strength

“Show of Strength” is this year’s theme for the November recognition.

“When I work with service members in art therapy, I see a lot of the resilience they experience, partially through art making, and reflecting and growing from their experiences,” Walker said. “I see a lot of strength in them from what they’ve been through, and in their healing processes, some of them say they’ve become better people than before they were injured.”

In a four-week, intensive outpatient program for service members who are diagnosed with both invisible wounds but haven’t responded to conventional treatment, the National Intrepid Center of Excellence staff evaluates and treats such complex cases, and Walker’s art program is a prescribed therapy.

Walker -- along with a music therapist and professional creative writers -- takes service members through a creative process to allow them to reflect and organize their thoughts to get at issues that are troubling them.

Underlying Thoughts Show Through Art

The art therapy program begins with Walker giving each service member a blank mask to design, using a variety of art supplies that can range from paint and beads to magazine clippings, she said. The results vary widely, as service members express themselves while working in small groups of five people to encourage socialization, she added.

The finished masks depict a broad spectrum of their concerns and hopes -- from losing battle buddies to sustaining injuries, to expressing feelings toward family members, to showing hope for the future, she explained.

Art is Symbolism

“I tell them the masks have some symbolism related to [their] identity and how some of them are probably going through transitional phases, trying to figure out who they’ve become since being injured and who they will become once they go through the healing process,” Walker said.

Later in the four-week program, Walker assigns service members a montage project and tells them to depict something about themselves, such as the evolution of their treatment. Many show their past, present and future, she said.

Walker also offers individual sessions where service members can work on a choice of projects. Some choose to design a box, which might represent “someone who’s trying to find his soul, which he feels he left behind in theater,” she said.

“Some depict the scene of where they were injured based on what they remember, or they might [design] something they’re envisioning at that moment because it’s been haunting them,” she added.

The service members tell Walker her art therapy program is one of the treatments that helped them open up when they couldn’t do so before, Walker said.

“They tell me, ‘I understand so much better what I’m going through now, and why I was so stressed out before I came here,’” she said. “For them, that’s the biggest step: identifying what they have to work on.”