Thursday, January 15, 2015

TSP and retirement planning: it’s never too late to start

by Airman Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs

1/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The start of a new year is a good reminder to keep tabs on saving for retirement; it's never too late to start.

The military provides the Thrift Savings Plan to help. This option should not be overlooked because never having to work again is real retirement.

The Thrift Savings Plan is a retirement plan for military members to invest their money; money intended to support you after age 60.

Once a TSP account is made, the money is automatically moved to the Government Securities Investment Fund (G Fund). This fund is less likely to grow because the interest rates are a little lower than the usual increase for inflation.

According to, the G-Fund invests in the government and is run by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

"The G fund is already set up for being older, because it'll never change," said Bob Hill, financial advisor for JBER. "I call it the grandfather fund, meaning it's for old people."

Once you sign up for a TSP account, it's time to choose how you want your money invested, to maximize your retirement potential.

The TSP offers many different paths of investments to better utilize money while being held for your retirement; these paths are the various funds.

According to the TSP website, other investment fund options are available: fixed income, common stock, small cap stock, international stock and lifestyle. These funds vary in terms of economic aggressiveness.

For more information about each investment fund, visit

Any savings plan is intended to provide more money later; it does not mean putting as much money in as possible right now, but saving a little at a time for a higher sum in the end.

The main difference between the Roth TSP and traditional TSP is when taxes are paid. Roth TSP taxes your money before it goes to the fund; when you withdraw the fund there is no deduction.

Traditional TSP taxes the withdrawal at the end and offers more options for withdrawing money before the target retirement date, such as if you choose to use the money to buy a home.

"When do you want to pay taxes, today or when you're 60? That's it in a nutshell," Hill said. "I would say 90 percent of the people say now."

"The traditional TSP is delaying your taxes, [until] someday; who knows when that day will come," Hill said.

The reason people want to pay their taxes now, and choose a Roth TSP, is because taxes increase over time, Hill said.

Dollar amount payments in a Roth TSP are no longer available as of Jan. 1. Roth TSP will use a percentage of pay, similar to traditional TSP.

Money travels like a drop of water in the ocean of economy, and the only way to keep track of your dollar is to make a plan.

A plan is all one needs to set oneself right this year and years to come.

Make a plan for a better future; start next year debt-free by living under budget and by saving.

For individual financial advice visit the JBER-Elmendorf Military and Family Support Center in the Log Cabin, or call 552- 4943; or Army Community Service located in Building 600, room A117, or call 384-7509 to schedule an appointment.


by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

1/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "Light weight, baby!"

Channeling eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, Army 1st Sgt. Orlando Horton, 23rd Sapper Company, lowered himself onto the bench press station and grasped a barbell loaded with 450 pounds.

Physically, he knew was strong enough. The real battle was about to happen in his mind.

With a loud grunt, powerful chalk-covered hands tightened around the bar, pupils dilated and muscles contracted as he pushed the weight off the rack. The iron lowered slowly and smoothly to his chest in total control. A judge cried, "up!" and the weight sprung back up off his chest.

Horton was one of 16 competitors vying for bragging rights during the Third Annual Arctic Warrior Push/Pull competition at Buckner Physical Fitness Center Jan. 10.

"Our main mission and purpose is to promote being strong," said Reilly Kelleher, 673d Force Support Squadron strength and conditioning coach. "We wanted to offer something that would integrate some feats of strength, so I put together the competition so we could get some guys and gals out lifting heavy weights."

The event was set up based off United States Powerlifting Association standards and included weight classes of: 148, 165, 181, 198, 220, 242, 275 and 275+. Each competitor received three attempts in a bench press and deadlift exercise.

Horton was the men's overall winner, officially lifting 990 pounds between the two events.

His personal raw totals, outside of competition, are well over 1,000 pounds.

While Horton was the overall winner, another heavy hitter showed up to compete: Sgt. Randy Cole, a senior combatives instructor at the Arctic Warrior Combatives Center.

As the reigning Alaska Strongest man, having claimed the title October 11, 2014 at the Alaska Fitness Expo, expectations were high for Cole.

Although a pectoral injury kept him from aggressively competing in the bench press portion of the competition, Cole's eyes were on the deadlift. His personal record sat at 635 pounds.

His first attempt at 605 pounds went up smooth and appeared almost "effortless," according to members of the audience in attendance.

"After the way 605 looked, Reilly got in my ear and said I had to go for 640," Cole said. "So I didn't have a choice."

The 6-foot-2-inch, 265-pound man strapped on a lifting belt, applied chalk to his hands and approached the lifting station.

He slapped his hands down aggressively on the barbell, paused briefly to set his form properly, and with a herculean effort, ripped the weight off the floor in one fluid motion.

"Good lift!"

"That was exciting," he said after the event. "To be able to get a new personal record is something you're always working for as a strength competitor."

According to Horton, strength competitions also tie directly into mission readiness for military members.
"I drive this into my Soldiers," Horton said. "You look good and you feel good when you lift. Physical fitness is one of the pillars of wellness. It is a very important pillar because it is inextricably linked to the other three pillars."

While the event pitted each man against the other, Horton said all the competitors understand they are competing against themselves.

"The brotherhood and camaraderie helps a lot," Cole said. "We push each other. It's not competition against each other. It's competition against yourself. We all push each other to be the best that we can."

Kelleher emphasized personal competition as key to success for people at all levels, but especially for young people looking to break into the sport.

"Compete against yourself," Kelleher said. "Always sharpen your skill and technique so you can improve. What I would tell young guys is to be patient. It's a journey. You're not going climb the mountain in one day."

In order to "climb the mountain," Horton keyed in on hard work, nutrition and patience.

"You need proper fuel for the race car. You want high octane - clean foods that aren't processed. Also, set realistic goals and realistic timelines. Try to be one percent better every week than you were last week. Gradually, the gains will come. Go hard or go home."

In addition to the physical gains fitness provides, Cole pointed to powerlifting and bodybuilding as productive lifestyles that can help keep a person grounded.

"A lot of younger guys have many things going on in their lives," Cole said. "If you're going to do something like this, you're going to have to be determined and stay disciplined. It's therapeutic. It keeps me focused. Coming to the gym - that's my rock, my zone. This is church."

‘Girls’ Night Out’ offers fun, education on women’s health

by Air Force Maj. Angela Webb
JBER Public Affairs

1/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 673d Medical Group will host the third annual 'Girls' Night Out'- an evening of fun and education on women's health - at the Arctic Warrior Events Center from 5 to 8:30 p.m., Jan. 27.

The 673d Medical Group started the event in 2012 due to an alarming increase in cervical cancer in females throughout the nation. Medical providers and technicians found that many women across Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, especially spouses and children, were not receiving the preventive health care available, or didn't have their records updated in the JBER system.

"Girls' Night Out" is a way to allow those on base to learn more about statistically female health care requirements in an enjoyable and low-stress environment.

"The event has grown tremendously from our first year, but the numbers are still showing the target [female patients] aren't receiving the recommended care for cervical and breast cancer," said Air Force Capt. Amy Spotanski, 673d Medical Group Women's Health Services.

"The event will hopefully encourage females to come get information, make appointments and have some fun."

The evening's activities will feature massages, manicures, cooking demonstrations and chances to win various door prizes.

"Health care will not be provided at the event, but appointments and updates to paperwork will be made," said Spotanski. "Even if someone has received care, they are still encouraged to come. We do encourage those who have received care off base to bring a copy of their information to update their base records though."

The event will also highlight other diseases that can be treated best if caught early - like breast, colorectal and throat cancer. Pap-smear and mammogram appointments can be scheduled during the event as well.

Medical group personnel will also discuss the importance of family history when it comes to various cancers.

If your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer, you and your family are at an elevated risk, said Cynthia Mellor, 673d Medical Group clinical nurse. There are three risk levels; general population, the lowest risk; those with a familial history of cancer; and those with a hereditary disposition.

Each risk level has specific management that is associated with it, but a provider cannot accurately assess your risk and manage you correctly without first ruling out the hereditary component.

Care providers can discuss risk and whether a genetic screening is in order.

Being worked up for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome provides lifesaving information for you and your family and can prevent these cancers, said Mellor.

Additionally, those with dependents 10 and older can get information about the human papillomavirus vaccine, and make an appointment for dependents to get the vaccine.

HPV is a primary cause of cervical cancer and the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We don't want parents to think that they will get their child the vaccine and it will permit or encourage sexual activity," Spotanski said.

"Statistics show that males and females between the ages of 10 and 12 have the best immune response and chance to decrease the risk of contracting cervical cancer."

She also added that the HPV vaccination is only available to those between the ages of 10 and 26.

For more information about the event or to schedule an appointment, contact the Womens' Health Clinic at 580-4034.

Haney: Strategic Deterrent is More Than a Nuclear Triad

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2015 – The United States’ strategic deterrent includes a triad of nuclear delivery platforms, but other critical elements range from intelligence and missile defense to space and cyber capabilities and a capable workforce, Navy Adm. Cecil Haney said here today.

The commander of U.S. Strategic Command spoke on strategic deterrence in the 21st century during a discussion moderated by Thom Shanker of the New York Times and hosted by the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.

The strategic deterrent includes a robust and agile intelligence apparatus, a synthesis of dedicated space and ground sensors that provide critical early warning for missile launchers and bomber threats, national nuclear command and control and the necessary infrastructure to sustain nuclear weapons without fully testing the warheads, the admiral said.

Other parts of the deterrent are a credible missile defense system that defends against limited attacks from rogue nations, cyberspace and space capabilities, trained and ready people, a campaign plan that orients assigned capabilities and activities toward a common purpose, and synchronized treaties, policies and strategies, Haney added.

A Whole-of-Government Approach

“This is not just capability but a whole-of-government approach that requires our attention and the necessary resources,” Haney said, adding that the Nuclear Deterrent Enterprise Review Group recently established by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel provides important support for the nation's deterrent.

Even in an era of significant resource constraints the nation must get 21st century deterrence right, Haney said, and must make clear to adversaries or potential adversaries that restraint is always the better course.

“It will require us to work together as a team, as partners -- the government, the private sector and academia,” he said, “to shape policy that will have a meaningful impact on our national security.”

Haney recalled President Barack Obama’s 2009 Prague speech, in which Obama publicly stated his goal for a world free of nuclear weapons, and said the new START treaty between the United States and Russia -– formally called Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms -– is an effort to work toward that goal.

Deterrents Can Fail

“The president's 2013 Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy and strategic documents such as the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review make it clear that as long as nuclear weapons exist,” Haney said, “the United States must maintain a strong and credible safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent and … be prepared for the possibility that deterrents can fail.”

Of the multiple states around the globe who have nuclear weapons or aspirations of acquiring them, the admiral mentioned Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.

Russia has had more than a decade of investments and modernization across its strategic nuclear forces, he said, adding that the U.S. approach to dealing with Russia in this context today is not about continuing the Cold War.

“This is about emerging capability at a time of significant concerns about Russians' execution of their near and abroad strategy,” Haney said, adding that Russia has significant cyber capability.

A Time of Significant Concerns

Russia also has significant cyber capability and Russian leaders have publicly stated that they are developing counter-space capabilities and that Russia’s armed forces have anti-satellite weapons and conduct anti-satellite research.

China also is modernizing its strategic forces, the admiral said, by enhancing silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, conducting the first fleet tests of a new mobile missile and making progress on a successor expected to be another road-mobile ICBM capable of carrying multiple warheads. China is also testing and integrating new ballistic missile submarines, providing that nation with its first sea-based strategic nuclear deterrent, Haney said.

“As I'm sure you're aware,” he told the audience, “they're also developing multidimensional space capabilities supporting their access-denial campaign. But with more than 60 nations operating satellites in space, it's extremely problematic to see China conducting missiles designed to destroy satellites.”

North Korea continues to advance its nuclear ambitions, the admiral added, and Iran has made no secret of its desire to acquire nuclear weapons.

21st Century Deterrents

Haney said, “21st century deterrents must be tailored to specific adversaries and threats, and in an integrated manner, so we can predict what deters and what prevents escalation.”

Haney’s top priority is to deter strategic attack and provide the nation with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent force, but he’s also interested in international partnerships and promoting innovation for future capabilities.

In the past year he’s had meetings with defense ministers of South Korea, France and Australia, a former Japanese defense minister, the United Kingdom’s vice defense chief, and five partners involved in space-sharing agreements.

In October, he said, “we conducted a command-and-control exercise designed to train our Defense Department forces and access our joint operational readiness across all my mission areas with a specific focus on nuclear readiness.”

Accessing Joint Operational Readiness

Stratcom did this in conjunction with U.S. Northern Command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Canadian partners in exercises that included Vigilant Shield, Positive Response and Determined Dragon.

Another of Haney’s high priorities is bolstering Stratcom’s ability to anticipate change and confront uncertainty with agility and innovation.

“Last summer we cut the ribbon at U.S. Strategic Command's War Gaming Center back there at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, to help enable and challenge our thinking with the ability to look at alternative scenarios, some plausible today and some unthinkable tomorrow,” the admiral explained.

“We need to grow innovative leaders, identify new operational concepts and continue to develop cutting-edge technology so we can continue to evolve our ideas on how to deter our adversaries and potential adversaries and, of course, assure our allies.”

Finding Problems, Plucking Them Out

But Haney said the nation would not have a credible strategic deterrent today if it were not for the men and women, military and civilian, “who conduct and contribute to our strategic deterrent mission day in and day out, across all areas. From under the sea to geosynchronous orbit, they are making concrete contributions to our security 24/7, 365 days a year.”

About the much-publicized problems over the past year with some members of the nuclear force, Haney said that when such problems are found, no matter where they are, “we pluck [them] out of our system … and get through some root-cause analysis to figure out what we should be doing associated with that particular problem.”

He added, “When you look at 90 percent of our team, [they] come to work every day to do the right thing, passionate over the mission.”

In any organization, the admiral said, “You have to continue to work on that other percentage of folks … and in this case I'm very happy that we found the problem, eradicated the problem from our system and went to work with this Nuclear Enterprise Review business to work on those problems.”

Charged About the Mission

Haney said he spent 2014 traveling and meeting with all of those involved in the strategic deterrent mission.

“I can say unequivocally that those folks are fired up and charged about the mission,” he said. “I think the rest of us need to support them in how we talk about it and associate it with the plans we have now.”

The admiral added, “I am proud of working with those great Americans.”

Hard work, dedication in below zero temperatures

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

1/15/2015 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFNS)  -- It's 6:30 a.m., 27 degrees below zero and the sky remains dark. Senior Airman Taylor Lancaster heads to his locker to sort his gear and make sure he has everything ready to begin work in the frigid weather.

On top of multiple layers, he wears thick coveralls and heavy duty boots that allow him to trudge through ice and snow. His face is guarded by a face shield and shatter proof snow goggles.

After being at Minot Air Force Base for more than three years, Lancaster, a 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft crew chief, has worked on his jet enough to know exactly what to do once it lands.

"Every jet is different, especially in the cold," Lancaster said. "I love working on my jet because when it lands I already know what needs to be serviced."

At roll call, the maintenance team gathers together where they are told what jets need repairs. They then head to the tool crib to load the equipment they'll need for the day. Each crew chief is assigned a specific jet they are responsible for maintaining, although they all work together to meet the needs of the mission.

Around 8:30 a.m. the sun begins to rise, allowing the flight line to defrost ever so slightly as the cold weather and ice lingers.

"During the winter, what would normally be a 10 minute job takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour," Lancaster said.

Some of Minot's harshest winter days can cause things on the jets to break more easily, meaning more work for maintenance Airmen. Because temperatures are known to potentially reach dangerous lows, maintenance members implement the buddy system to ensure safety while getting the mission done.

"Training new Airmen can be a bit of a task when winter time rolls around," he said. "Since it's so cold, we can only spend so long out there before we have to go back inside and warm up."

Although the job can be tough at times, Lancaster tries to remind newer Airmen the mission is important.

"Sometimes it's hard to see the big picture when we're out there working in these kinds of temperatures, but we have to remember what we're doing is meaningful," he added.

Once the weather reaches 45 degrees below zero, maintenance on certain sections of the flight line will temporarily shut down. However, because temperatures read differently across the flight line, the team's duty is to now provide maintenance for a different aircraft.

Currently, Lancaster is working to get flight certified, which will provide him the opportunity to fly with the aircrew and work on the jet as soon as it lands.

"I wanted to do this because it gets me more involved," Lancaster said. "It's a great feeling to be able to get up in the jet that I worked on and take off with the aircrew."

With three years under his belt, Lancaster hasn't made any final decisions on whether he's going to re-enlist, but the future seems to be getting brighter.

"It was hard for me to really look ahead when I first got here," Lancaster said. "Now that I'm comfortable, confident and getting more responsibilities handed down to me, it's making me realize that I know what I'm doing and no matter what I know I can do it."

Hagel: U.S. Military Must Prepare for Challenges

By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in what was expected to be his last major address to the troops before leaving office, told an Army audience today the world is at a defining moment, with events charging ahead with a new immediacy, creating less margin for error for U.S. leaders and urging the military to “prepare this institution in ways that we’ve never had to.”

In an address at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy on Fort Bliss, Texas, Hagel described the cascade of events that have occurred on his watch -- from threats associated with Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the emergence of the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant in the Middle East, Ebola’s spread in West Africa and other challenges to national security -- as being unprecedented in modern times, a trend that he said will continue to place demands on military leaders.

“We are living at a very defining time in the world,” Hagel said. “We have not seen disruptions in the world order like we are seeing today since World War II.”

While only the people of the affected countries can ultimately solve such problems, Hagel said, the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria along with sectarian violence in the Middle East in general will require solid judgment on the part of U.S. leaders, who will have “very little margin of error.”

Key Requirements for Leadership

“The world will be presented more and more with those kinds of issues where responsible leadership will always end up having to rely on responsible judgment,” said Hagel, who added that not every problem will come with immediate answers.

“These next few years will define a world order,” full of ups and downs and inconsistencies, he said.

“That means we have to prepare this institution in ways we’ve never had to prepare it and much of that will fall on you in your command positions,” Hagel said. He emphasized that he believes qualities such as responsibility and good judgment will continue to be the key requirements for leadership in the Defense Department of the future.

“You can’t teach that. It’s an accumulation of experiences of knowledge, of commitment,” the secretary said.

Budget Uncertainty

Despite the threats, Hagel, in response to a question from the audience, called budget uncertainty the biggest challenge the military faces over the next decade, given the looming return of spending cuts ordered by the budget sequester that are set to take effect next year requiring the department to find billions in additional cuts.

“I don’t think the demands on the Department of Defense will be less over the next few years,” Hagel said. “I think they’ll be more.”

Hagel, the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Defense Department, fondly recalled his days training in the Army at Fort Bliss nearly 50 years ago.

“I might say enlightening, when you are referenced not by your name, but by other superlatives in those days,” said Hagel, recalling the time he spent enduring the wrath of drill sergeants before he deployed to Vietnam in 1968.

As he looked back on his nearly two years as defense secretary, Hagel described his biggest challenge in leading “the largest enterprise in the world” as deciding how to manage the demands placed on his time and making sure that “every minute of that time counts” in a job that he called all-consuming.

“You’ve got one bottom line – responsibility,” he said. “That’s the security of this country, and you live with that every day.”