Tuesday, January 26, 2016

ASYMCA supports service members in Alaska

by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez
JBER Public Affairs

1/26/2016 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- The Armed Services YMCA has been assisting military members and their families since the days of the American Civil War.

The organization came to Alaska in 1941, and for the past 70 years the ASYMCA has been serving the Alaska military community through its mission of alleviating some of the stresses military life can present.

The headquarters of ASYMCA of Alaska is located on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. However, there are other locations throughout Alaska - on Fort Wainwright and the surrounding areas, including two military courtesy lounges at Ted Stevens and Fairbanks International Airports.

"We can be found throughout the U.S.," said Buddy Whitt, executive director for ASYMCA of Alaska. "We work specifically with local commands to find out what the needs are. You can go to the local ASYMCA and look at all the programs and services offered. If you were to then PCS to Fort Hood, Texas, and go to the ASYMCA there - there may be some similarities, but there are things they do that we don't. It all depends on the local need."

While the ASYMCA carries the YMCA name, there are some distinct differences in their purpose and function.

"What separates us from a traditional YMCA is our funding does not come from any sort of membership," Whitt said. "We are not an organization that is run by monthly fees for services. Most of what we do is free or low cost."

Offices are strategically located on or near military installations to better serve their target audience.

"[Non-military] can volunteer with us," said Kyra Mailki, ASYMCA of Alaska program and funds development supervisor. "They can donate and participate in those ways. But as far as services, it's only for military members and their dependents."

The organization is largely funded through donations. And while they have paid employees, their staff is primarily composed of volunteers.

"People will give us stuff to pass on to the military," Mailk said. "We make sure the support that's out there, and people want to give, makes it to the people they want to give it to."

Currently, the ASYMCA on JBER offers more than 20 programs designed to meet the needs of the local community.

"We try to address the needs that are presented to us rather than pushing needs that we think exist," Mailk said.

Some programs and services offered by the JBER ASYMCA include:

Teddy's Child Watch provides two free hours of childcare for children 6 months to 12 years at the hospital. There is a short registration process, but the service is available to anyone with access to the hospital.

"If you have a doctors appointment and you have a little one that you have to take with you, you're not really going to get a lot done," said Mailki. "It can be very distracting and it can be hard to pay attention to what the doctor has to say."

An ASYMCA Food Pantry assists military families who may be hit with unbudgeted expense during the month.

"Maybe their car breaks down and they need a couple more meals to get through the month," Whitt said. "Or it could be someone who just [transfer] up and they weren't ready for the expense of living in Alaska."

There are many other programs and services offered by the ASYMCA such as Y on Wheels, Operation Snack Attack and Operation Kid Comfort to name a few.

"We try to be helpful in multiple ways, not just getting someone who is in trouble get through until the next week, but maybe putting them on a path to success long term," Mailki said.

"I like to consider ourselves as hero support," Whitt said. "We have all these heroes working, and we don't have those super powers. Our job is to make sure our heroes and their families have everything that they need to do their job."

Those interested in volunteering, donating or inquiring about the many services offered by the ASYMCA can call the JBER-Elmendorf office at 552-9622. Or the JBER-Richardson office at 384-9622.

AMC leaders share way ahead for 2016

by Jodi Ames
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

1/26/2016 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Air Mobility Command hosted the first all call of the new year Jan. 20, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

AMC Commander Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II kicked off the event by thanking mobility Airmen for their efforts to execute and sustain Rapid Global Mobility operations around the world in 2015.

"I will tell you that 2015 was an outstanding year," Everhart said. "But 2016 is going to be even better, because this staff works to get the mission done."

Everhart shared his vision and priorities for the year ahead, which are nested under the national defense and national security strategies. He emphasized readiness, modernization, training and no-fail support to the nuclear deterrence mission.

"I want us to train the same way we fight so we can be at that tip of the spear, ready to go," he said. "Our aperture should remain open to our entire repertoire of core mission sets."

The all call was also an opportunity for the commander to officially introduce Chief Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, AMC's new command chief. Both stressed the importance of developing Airmen.

"There are opportunities for you to walk out of the headquarters building and go to the base and lead," Frey said. "At the strategic level, you have something to offer. To be truly competitive, get out there and share yourself and explore your own leadership."

"Life is about choices, and everybody in this room chose to be a part of something that's larger than we could ever imagine," Frey added. "I wake up to this vastness every day and ask myself what is next. What can I possibly do to be the best chief that I can be for our Airmen?"

Since her arrival in November, Frey has been introducing Mobility Airmen to her Airman Up! philosophy. During the event, she took a moment to share what the phrase means to her.

"It's not about just being proud to be a defender, or a dirt boy, or a maintainer or a personnelist. Airman Up is about being the best defender, dirt boy, maintainer or personnelist you can be," she explained.

"I am proud to be an Airman, so I say 'Airman Up!' Airman Up truly is about airpower. We cannot have airpower without Airmen being up on their game."

Everhart also discussed results from the recent climate assessment and spoke candidly about the critical role feedback plays in identifying areas for improvement.

"I want to thank you for participating in our climate survey," Everhart said. "Open communication and open dialogue is what it is all about."

Col. Eric Halverson, AMC director of staff, briefed attending Airmen about ongoing efforts to update the command's headquarters facilities, as well as long-term projects and milestones for the renovation process.

Speaking of the renovation process, Everhart added, "We plan on keeping the building for another 50 to 60 years, so we have to do internal renovations to make sure the building can last that long and be safe for you. I promised you a safe work environment, and that's what I owe you."

New SBIRS ground system celebrates final development capstone

by Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

1/21/2016 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif.  -- Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center and the 460th Space Wing announced the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate completion of the Space-Based Infrared System's Block 10 Integrated Test and Evaluation (IT&E) Readiness Soak.  This is the final Block 10 Increment 2 system test prior to the formal evaluation by the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center.

Beginning January 5, 460th Operations Group personnel conducted the Soak event from the Mission Control Station at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado. The 14-day test demonstrated total system readiness and stability for IT&E start.  It included complete command and control (C2) and mission management of the full constellation, and full operational crew posture and execution of operations for the final dependability and maintainability assessment prior to IT&E.  This event not only tested total system readiness, but also demonstrated that operational crews have enough confidence in the system to run live operations.

"For the first time, live mission messages were sent from the Block 10 floor" said Col. Mike Guetlein, SMC's Remote Sensing System director.  "This is another huge step toward Operational Acceptance."

"This is a full function test flight of our new ground system where our Airmen conduct full warning and detection functionality combined with intensive spacecraft command and control of all three of our spacecraft constellations," added Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander.  "This was our shakedown cruise."

Block 10 consolidates operational C2 of Defense Support Program satellites, Space-based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting and Highly Elliptical Orbit sensors under one primary Mission Control Station.  Block 10 also significantly increases performance capability across its four mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness, and technical intelligence.

The Remote Sensing Program Office, in partnership with the operations community, leveraged lessons learned from previous SBIRS upgrades to successfully execute the Soak test.  The system will now progress into IT&E and its formal operational and development evaluation activities.

Col. Mike Jackson, 460th SW Operations Group commander, said the completion of the phase marked a "truly historic day for the overhead persistent infrared mission."

The SBIRS program is managed by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB in El Segundo, California. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, California, is the SBIRS prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, California, is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB operates SBIRS. The SBIRS program delivers timely, reliable and accurate missile warning and infrared surveillance information to the president of the United States, the secretary of Defense, combatant commanders, the intelligence community and other key decision makers. The system enhances global missile launch detection capability, supports the nation's ballistic missile defense system, expands the country's technical intelligence gathering capacity and bolsters situational awareness for warfighters on the battlefield.

Face of Defense: Marine Takes Action to Prevent Suicide

By Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MORON AIR BASE, Spain, January 26, 2016 — Eight months ago, Marine Corps Sgt. Raheem Boyd was in his room on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, when he received a message from a fellow Marine telling him he had discovered suicidal posts on another Lejeune-based Marine’s Facebook page.

“I checked that Marine’s page and saw one post that looked strange and made me want to investigate further,” Boyd said, adding that he recognized the Marine from a previous tour in Okinawa, Japan.

When he drove to the barracks, he found that the Marines on duty were by the Marine’s room, which was empty. After searching the area, one of the on-duty Marines briefly caught a glimpse of the troubled Marine in his car with an assault rifle as he sped off from the barracks parking lot.

Boyd said he followed and eventually saw his car sitting on the side of the road. "He did not recognize me at first," Boyd said. "It was the first time I had seen him since Okinawa."

Life-or-Death Moment

Boyd said he approached the vehicle and attempted to calm the Marine, telling him that he was there for him and that there is always another way. As they talked, the first police car pulled up and the Marine started to panic.

As more police cars approached with flashing bright red and blue lights dissipating in the darkness, the Marine reached across the seat for the rifle -- with the intent to shoot himself, Boyd said. Boyd quickly reached through the window of the car, wrapped his body around the Marine and pushed the rifle away to the floorboard.

“I gave just enough time for [the police] to come around and secure the weapon,” Boyd said. “After the situation de-escalated, I did my best to comfort the Marine and tell him that everything will be all right. He got out of the car and we escorted him to the hospital in an ambulance.”

'Me Being a Human'

The events took place not long before Boyd deployed here. He currently serves as a heavy equipment operator with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa.

“A lot of Marines were telling me I did a good job and that they wish a lot more Marines would be like me,” said Boyd, a Birmingham, Alabama, native. “But I feel that wasn’t me being a Marine, it was me being a human -- being there for someone who needs help. I always fell back on my morals -- to always treat others how you would want them to treat you.”

Boyd’s excellence in service did not stop there. During his deployment here, he was meritoriously promoted to sergeant, helped certify more than 40 new black belt recipients, led the unit’s leadership seminars for corporals and -- his latest achievement -- receiving the American Hero Award for preventing a tragic loss of life.

“Sergeant Boyd is above his peers and is very mature. The Marines in his shop always look up to him,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Archie Mardis Jr., utilities chief for the Combat Logistics Detachment here. “I never have to worry about him. He is the Marine to go to.”
Each tragic loss to suicide has far-reaching impact on families, friends and Marines left behind. The Marine Corps had 28 suicides in the first three quarters of 2015. If not for Boyd’s actions, that number could be 29.

National Guard Forces Continue Post-Storm Assistance

By Cotton Puryear Virginia National Guard

STAUNTON, Va., January 26, 2016 — Virginia National Guard soldiers on state active duty have been using Humvees and medium tactical trucks to provide mobility support to help Virginia State Police and local first responders reach residents requiring assistance after a historic snowfall blanketed the state.

Since they began operations Jan. 22, Virginia Guard members have escorted or transported 49 law enforcement, emergency medical and fire rescue personnel to emergency locations as well as transported 26 essential medical and support personnel to their place of work.

Guard members assisted in saving at least two lives in Virginia. They also provided mobility support to citizens and law enforcement personnel for nonemergency situations, transported essential medical supplies, towed fire trucks stuck in the snow and conducted health and welfare checks.

"I think our soldiers are doing a fantastic job across the commonwealth in helping our state and local first responder partners get through the heavy snow to help their fellow Virginians," said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia. "Working so closely with the Virginia State Police and local government emergency response officials under the guidance of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has proven to be very effective."

Specific Actions

Some of the significant activities accomplished by soldiers of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team:

-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of Waynesboro Fire and Rescue responded along with an ambulance to an emergency call on Afton Mountain, Jan. 24. The resident was located about one mile from the main cleared road, but the ambulance and rescue teams were not able to reach the house. The Guard Humvee with one EMT was able to move through the unplowed road and clear a path for a follow on vehicle to pick up the resident for movement to an air evacuation site.

-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of the Greene County Rescue Squad responded along with an ambulance to an emergency call near Stanardsville, Jan. 23. The ambulance was not able to make it to the residence through the heavy snow, so the EMTs moved to the Humvee to make it the residence where a man was suffering from chest pains. The soldiers helped move the patient to the Humvee, then transferred him into the ambulance for evacuation. During transport, the patient's heart stopped and a soldier assisted with CPR. The patient was revived and successfully airlifted for further medical support.

-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of local civil authorities in Winchester were dispatched Jan. 23 to assist an ambulance stuck in the snow while responding to a high-priority emergency call. Using two medium tactical trucks, the soldiers drove in front of the ambulance to clear a path. Once at the residence, the EMTs were able to provide care, move the patient to the ambulance and then the Guard vehicles lead the ambulance to the cleared road.

-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of Augusta County Fire Station No. 6 responded to a vehicle crash Jan. 22, where one of the passengers sustained a severe head injury. One of the soldiers assisted fire and rescue personnel with extracting the passenger from the vehicle and moving them into the ambulance for evacuation.

-- Virginia National Guard soldiers working in support of Page County helped clear a path for an ambulance to reach a dialysis patient in need of transport Jan. 23, near Stanley. The Guard was able to clear a path so the rescue squad was able to transport the patient for required treatment.

Command, Control

The Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is providing mission command for the response operations in the field and is working requests from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to provide support to multiple locations, as well as the Virginia State Police. Soldiers are deployed along the I-81 corridor between Lexington and Winchester, along the Route 29 corridor from Warrenton to Danville, as well as in the areas near Northern Virginia, Richmond, Fredericksburg and Gate City.

More than 400 soldiers from units of the 116th IBCT as well as from the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group and Bowling Green-based 91st Troop Command are on duty providing support.

The Virginia National Guard also has more than 100 soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty in Richmond, Sandston and Fort Pickett, where they are providing mission command, administrative and logistical support for the overall mission.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe authorized up to 500 personnel for state active duty in his initial emergency declaration, and then he increased that to 700.

Delaware Guard Response

The Delaware National Guard activated nearly 300 soldiers and airmen to support the citizens of Delaware through Winter Storm Jonas.

The National Guard leaned forward before the storm, prepositioning operators and tactical vehicles such as Humvees, five-ton trucks and wreckers to each county's emergency operations center. From each EOC, troops and vehicles were dispatched to local fire houses and state and local police departments.

Officially, troops supported nearly 100 missions and 165 individual citizens across Delaware. Missions included transporting medical professionals and first responders to and from work shifts and moving Delawareans to safety from flooding or effects of the snowstorm.

Because of flooding in Sussex County, the Guard helped evacuate approximately 40 residents from the Oak Orchard/Long Neck area to area shelters or homes of friends. In New Castle County, due to the snowfall, the Delaware Guard helped dozens of people who needed emergency medical care or were stranded on the road.

Included in those missions were efforts to recover an ambulance and a fire truck, along with an aerial assessment of the flood damage in Sussex County, which was reported to Gov. Jack Markell and other state officials.

"Even though the Delaware National Guard has troops deployed around the world, we were able to provide the necessary support to our great state," said Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, the adjutant general of Delaware.

In addition to helping 165 Delawareans on official missions, soldiers and airmen "unofficially" assisted countless stranded motorists and moved abandoned vehicles for Department of Transportation workers to plow roads and first responders to complete their missions.

Guardsmen Helping Elsewhere

Guard members were activated in other states as well. Their personnel strength numbers as of yesterday:

-- Washington, D.C., about 100;

-- Kentucky, more than 75;

-- Maryland, more than 500;

-- New Jersey, more than 120;

-- Pennsylvania, more than 300; and
-- West Virginia, more than 120.