Friday, October 30, 2015

Wounded Warriors, Prince Harry Inspire Each Other

By Katie Lange DoD News, Defense Media Activity

FORT MEADE, Md., October 29, 2015 — It's not every day you get to meet a prince, but several of America's injured service members were given that chance yesterday, showing off their adaptive sports skills to Britain's Prince Harry, who visited Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to officially launch the 2016 Invictus Games.

Prince Harry was greeted by cheers -- and some squeals -- when he entered Wells Field House. He, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, were introduced as if they were the stars of their own basketball game, slapping hands with the athletes who lined up to meet them.

"All right, ladies, Prince Harry is here. Don't act like you don't notice," Mrs. Obama said as the crowd laughed.

But why he was there is a serious subject that's dear to his heart.

Prince Harry is no stranger to war. He spent 10 years in the British army and did two tours of duty in Afghanistan -- deployments that he said "changed the direction of my life." He revealed how, after his first deployment, he shared a flight home with three British soldiers in comas and a Danish soldier who had been killed in action. That's when the reality of war really sunk in.

"From that moment, I knew I had the responsibility to help all veterans who had made huge personal sacrifices for their countries to lead healthy and dignified lives after service," he said.

He's trying his best to keep to that promise, including in America.

Keeping His Promise

In May 2012, Prince Harry met with five injured Defense Department service members in Washington, D.C., before accepting a humanitarian award for his charity work with wounded warriors. He then attended the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado, which is where the idea for the Invictus Games was born.

"I saw the power that sport could play in the recovery of both mind and body," he said. "I left Colorado with a determination to broaden this to an international audience."

The Invictus Games are something retired U.S. Army Sgt. Blake Johnson is excited about. The 23-year-old, who shattered his knee in a car crash in Germany, was pumped to show off his wheelchair basketball skills for the prince and the first lady.

"I think it's great. I'm grateful they gave me the opportunity to see them," said Johnson, a 2015 Warrior Games participant. "When I first got involved with [adaptive] basketball, that was the first team sport I did, and I'll never forget it. That was kind of my turnaround point. I was like, 'This is making me happy.'"

More than 400 service members from 13 countries competed in last year's inaugural Invictus Games in London. U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Angelo Anderson, who was shot several times on a combat patrol in Afghanistan in 2010, was one of them.

"It was just amazing. For [Prince Harry] to have us in his backyard and welcome us with open arms was huge," Anderson said. "I think I can speak for all the other athletes in all the other countries in saying that it was an incredible experience."

"The games epitomized the very best of the human spirit -- men and women who had not only adjusted to life, but embraced it, proving what can be achieved post-injury rather than focusing on what cannot," Prince Harry said.

Anderson agreed.

"I hope the games inspire the person who can't see past their injuries and dark times," he said. "It really helps them find that new normal. You're not just Joe Amputee down the street. You're a Joe that can help make a difference."

Breaking Down Barriers, Changing Perceptions

The four days of games in Orlando are meant to help the athletes break down barriers and change perceptions, especially when it comes to invisible injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder and people's fear of asking for help.

"This fear of coming forward as a result of the stigma which surrounds mental health is one of the greatest challenges that veterans face today," Prince Harry said. "We have to help them all to get the support that they need without fear of being judged or discriminated against. Not only is it OK to talk about it, we have to talk about it."

The first lady said the games are about showing the world stories of grit, courage and grace.

"These are the stories that our wounded warriors and their families are living out every single day, whether the cameras are around or not -- whether we're here or not,” she said. “You guys are doing the work that makes us proud."

Prince Harry and Mrs. Obama, who spoke before the event's exhibition game kicked off, also sprinkled in a little friendly smack-talk.

"I guess I should apologize to him in advance for all the gold medals that America will win in Orlando," the first lady said.

"You better bring it, USA," the prince said in return.

ACC intel officer shares new ISR perspective

By Staff Sgt. Alyssa C. Gibson , Secretary of the Air Force Command Information / Published October 29, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Combat Command’s senior intelligence officer shared her perspective on fusion warfare with the intelligence community, defense industry and media during an Oct. 22 assembly at the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Maj. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson explained fusion warfare as “an asymmetric decision advantage, integrating and synchronizing multi-source, multi-domain information in a specific time and space,” ultimately benefiting tactical, operational and strategic leaders.

“The reason we need fusion warfare is to maintain our tactical edge, meaning the outer boundary of warfighting, not just today but specifically in 2035,” Jamieson continued. “By then, our competitors will probably be near-peer technologically, and some will have advanced us.”

Fusion warfare is achieved by combining the observe, orient, decide and act loop across multiple domains. Currently, the Air Force has multiple platforms working to achieve their own objectives -- they’re not necessarily integrated to affect the target or influence strategic decision makers.

“Our current tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are based off of lessons learned,” Jamieson said. “Fifth-generation technology is going to increase the amount of data available -- it’s going to be and produce a hub of data that’s going to flood us, known as big data. Fusion warfare provides an opportunity for a much faster pace via air, space and cyber multi-domain operations. Current TTPs won’t keep pace by 2035; they’re based on single inputs, not multi-source or multi-domain. This is why we must act now.”

This new idea is an answer to the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff of the Air Force’s challenge for Airmen to quickly adapt and respond to evolving operations, and is one approach to achieving the Air Force Future Operating Concept for 2030.

The intelligence officer said it’s about integrating and synchronizing multi-source, multi-domain information to know the adversary’s processes better than they know it themselves to make the unpredictable become predictable. She also highlighted that the U.S. military and its allies, the defense industry and academia must be included in fusion warfare conversations to create the TTPs of the future.

“The innovative Airmen teaming with academia and industry in a collaborative, environment, integrating, focusing and fusing data, will result in fusion warfare,” Jamieson said. “At the end of the day, it takes Airmen to deliver that asymmetric decision advantage in advance of real time in a time and place of our choosing. We’re not going to wait until 2035.”

Survivor speaks out about domestic, sexual abuse

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

10/29/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- (Editor's note: The story contains descriptions from a personal account of a domestic and child abuse victim - may not be suitable for all readers.)

"Go get undressed and get into bed," her father said. "I'll be there in a minute."

Helen Holston, not yet old enough to go to elementary school, did as her father told her. He then proceeded to beat her with a leather belt from neck to toe; he called it branding.

"My dad was in the Army for 22 years, and married my mom while he was stationed overseas," Holston said. "Things were very rocky between [my parents] and there was a lot of domestic violence between them. Lots."

Holston said she lived in fear for most of her young life, and when her parents quit beating up on each other, they started beating up on her.

Forty years later, Holston said she has reached a place in her life where she feels it's important to tell her story.

By raising awareness of domestic, child and sexual abuse, Holston said she hopes to empower victims who feel there is no way out and empower military organizations like the family advocacy program to help those people.

"I went to a lot of schools on military bases," Holston said. "I never told anybody because at our house, everything was secret. You don't tell, ever."

So she didn't. All through her adolescence, Holston was abused by both her parents. Her mother would beat her with whatever was nearby; her father, with belts she fetched and brought to him herself.

Eventually, Holston's father's command forced him to go to counseling with his family.

They went twice.

As a preschooler, Holston often cleaned up used contraceptives and vomit after the parties her parents frequently hosted at their house.

"I was the adult, and they were the crazy kids," Holston said. "When I was five, my dad and his buddies came into my room."

They were drunk.

"I acted like I was sleeping," Holston said. "And they - they did whatever they did to me."

Holston said she tried to tell her mother, but she wouldn't listen. Her mother told her she stayed with her dad because he didn't "bother" her. She meant sexually.

"I had nowhere to turn," Holston said. "He took showers with me until I was 11. I did not know that was strange."
The molestation ended when Holston reached the age of 11, but the physical abuse didn't stop. She became hyper-involved in school. The teachers thought she was an overachiever, a hard-charger, but Holston knew better. She was just doing anything she could to stay away from home.

When she made it to high school, she found solace in the structure of the Junior ROTC.

"At home, there was no structure. I never knew what I was coming home to. Everything was crazy and chaotic," Holston said. "JROTC had structure, and it saved my life."

During high school, Holston was seriously contemplating suicide until she was given a mundane little award. To her, it wasn't mundane at all. It was a glimpse of light in the perpetual darkness which enveloped her life.

"I'll never forget when I quit thinking of suicide; it was the stupidest little award I got from drill team. I'd won the six-week drill competition," Holston said. "It clicked. I could be really good at something."

Holston went on to be named student of the year and cadet of the year, and become the first female battalion commander for her school. The abuse carried on.

Holston entered the delayed enlistment program, and when she graduated high school, she stayed at a friend's house for three days before leaving for basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

After graduating from Advanced Individual Training, Holston went to her first duty station, fully intending to create a career for herself in the Army; and away from her parents.

However, she would find out escaping her parents' influence would be a lot more difficult than moving almost 4,000 miles away.

Holston's time at Fort Wainwright was rife with conflict; she was married and divorced twice and a noncommissioned officer threatened her life if she did not perform sexual favors for him.

She did not reenlist.

For more than 20 years, Holston hopped from one state to the next, never quite settling down.

She continued to flit in and out of one abusive relationship and another. Chaos was where she was comfortable; it was all she knew, Holston said.

Then she met Mark Holston, a police officer and former Marine.

"It was like Alice in Chains meets the Brady Bunch," Helen said. "It's strange with Mark; he's kind, he's calm, generous and compassionate. Those are things I've never experienced. It's odd for me."

Now, as they approach their 10-year anniversary, Mark said he jokes about growing old together with Helen. He knows it makes her uncomfortable to think about reaching this milestone in their lives, but it's important she knows he's not going anywhere.

"I don't drink anymore, but when I did," Mark said. "I would see her staring at me; evil-eye staring at me, because the smell of alcohol was triggering bad things."

Holston said she finally found help through the Department of Veteran's Affairs in Pensacola, Florida.

"I've been out since [19]90. I had not met a counselor I trusted enough to really deeply share; until 2013," Helen said. "She helped me through a process called dialectical behavior therapy, and I did a course with her once a week for six months."

"Pensacola VA was a big pivot point in my life. After DBT, I did nine sessions of trauma-recovery management," Helen said. "After Pensacola, we came back to Alaska so I could start taking college classes, and Mark could get a job.

"Now I've got all this new training from Pensacola. We've relocated back to Anchorage. Mark's got a job on JBER, and I've been approved for school."

Helen was able to connect with a tax preparation class through JBER. And she's been approved to start taking college classes in the spring through the Alaska Department of Veteran's Affairs.

"I have run for office. I have served on the governor's board here in Alaska. I've served on the governor's board in Alabama," Helen said. "My dream job, with 20 years of built-up experience [helping veterans], is to work in [Washington] D.C. at central VA to make policy change for continuity for veterans; to make it less of a hardship for veterans to get service-connected disability [benefits]."

Helen has kept her past largely a secret until now. But she has decided it's time to make a change.

"Ninety-nine percent of my friends never knew I have this background. I just don't trust people enough to share that," Helen said. "Now, I think, 'If it saves one life, it's worth it.'"

Helen said she isn't sure where her future will lead, but she is sure of her goals.

"I want to write a book. I want to help people. I want to change my name," Helen said. "I think I'll change it to Back, Helen Back; because I have been to hell and back.  It's perfect."

Mark said he wonders how different Helen's life could have been, if someone had intervened, if someone had stood up for Helen as a 5-year-old girl.

"They have these wonderful programs to educate people on looking out for signs; if this had been around 20 years ago when she was going to all these military schools, one of the teachers might have done something," Mark said. "It could have saved her. Who knows what she could have been."

The tragedy is, the family advocacy program was established in 1974, when Helen was 7 years old, as a way of detecting child maltreatment. It was later extended to domestic abuse in 1981, but the program was so new, people simply weren't aware of it.

October was Domestic Violence Prevention Awareness Month and the JBER Family Advocacy Program was all over base attempting to make people more aware of the resources available. Though the month may be over, the desire to help is still there.

"There are programs out there now, and people have to be willing to take a leap of faith and just do it," Helen said. "You have to take that chance."

For information on the JBER Family Advocacy Program and other resiliency resources, visit

AF announces KC-46A preferred, reasonable alternatives

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published October 29, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, has been chosen as the preferred alternative for the first Reserve-led KC-46A Pegasus main operating base, Air Force officials announced Oct. 29. The KC-46As are expected to begin arriving in 2019.

Tinker AFB, Oklahoma; Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; and Grissom ARB, Indiana, were named as the reasonable alternatives.

"It is absolutely critical that we replace our aging tanker fleet with the KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "I am pleased to announce Seymour Johnson AFB as the first Reserve-led location because it is a testament to the Air Force's commitment to the total force.

“We must use all three components -- active, Guard and Reserve -- operating cohesively and seamlessly as one team so we can realize the full potential of airpower."

James also explained the 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are just the first phase of a three-phase effort to replace the aging tanker fleet. The first phase of tanker recapitalization will complete deliveries in fiscal year 2028.

During detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base, the major commands evaluated the bases against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower.

The site survey teams also developed cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A at each candidate base. The results of the surveys were briefed to James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who selected the preferred and reasonable alternatives for this mission.

"Seymour Johnson (AFB) was selected based on operational analysis, results of site surveys, cost, and military judgment factors," said Jennifer Miller, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations. “The primary drivers for selecting this location as the preferred alternative were its lower costs and its highly successful existing active-duty association, which will lead to the lowest active-duty manpower required to stand up the KC-46A Reserve unit.”

Selection of this total force unit will minimize costs and the challenge of fielding a new weapons system while simultaneously establishing a new active association.

"Bringing the KC-46A online is a huge first step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been the world leader in air refueling for more than five decades," Welsh said. "The incredible Airmen who will fly this great machine, and the joint and coalition partners they support in contingency and humanitarian operations around the world, deserve the improved aircraft availability rates, reliability and capability it will bring to the fight. Rapid global mobility has always been a core mission of our Air Force; the KC-46A will help us take it to the next level!"

The Air Force will also ensure Reserve component involvement from day one by establishing active/Reserve associations at all U.S. main operating base locations.

“The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve are vital to accomplishing our air refueling mission,” James explained. “Therefore, the ability to recruit for and maintain a strong Reserve component association was a major consideration in this basing action.”

“We will now begin the Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP),” Miller said. “We look forward to the inputs provided from the communities as we proceed through the environmental impact analysis.

“Once the requirements of the environmental impact analysis process are complete, the Air Force will make its final basing decision.”

Reasonable alternatives will continue to be evaluated during the EIAP. Subsequent KC-46 decisions will use similar criteria; therefore, candidate installations will likely compete for future continental U.S. basing decisions.

The KC-46A will provide improved capabilities, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie; worldwide navigation and communication; cargo capacity on the entire main deck floor; receiver air refueling; improved force protection and survivability; and multi-point air refueling capability.