Military News

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Trauma Chief Praises Medical Response to Sutherland Springs Shooting



By Elaine Sanchez Brooke Army Medical Center

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, Nov. 15, 2017 — The community teamwork and medical response here the afternoon of the Sutherland Springs shooting was "extremely heartwarming," the trauma chief at Brooke Army Medical Center said.

"When people heard about the shooting, we didn't have to do a recall. People came in immediately and pitched in, … not to watch, but to help," said Army Col. (Dr.) Kurt Edwards, who received patients and directed care that night.

"We ended up with more medical staff in the operating rooms, emergency department and [intensive care units] than we needed," he said.

BAMC received eight victims -- six adults and two minors -- from the Nov. 5 mass shooting in the small community church in Sutherland Springs, about 30 miles east of San Antonio. One adult patient was discharged last week, and seven remain in BAMC's care.

The Initial Call

Air Force Maj. Belinda Kelley, the shift leader that night in the ER, received the initial call. "We were told we were possibly getting quite a few patients after a shooting at a church," Kelley recalled. "We weren't sure how many were coming here, but were told there were potentially 30 shot." Kelley later learned that 26 people had been killed and 20 injured that Sunday afternoon.
Emergency Department entrance at Brooke Army Medical Center.

The situation was well controlled at BAMC, Edwards noted. "We had about a 30-minute warning. We started prepping for any eventuality to ensure adequate coverage. We opened up 15 trauma bays in preparation."

BAMC received four patients at first, then an additional four not long after.  "It was disheartening to see that the injuries were not dissimilar to those in combat," said Edwards, who has deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. "To see people who had been sitting in a church having similar injuries to those in a combat zone [is] not something you want to see."

The seven patients' conditions currently range from good to critical. "They are all getting better," Edwards noted.

Team Effort

Edwards praised the first responders and the trauma partnership within the city that led to an effective response. BAMC and University Health System are the only Level I trauma centers in the San Antonio region, caring for civilian trauma patients over a 23,000-square-mile radius. On average, BAMC cares for 3,000 trauma patients each year.

"Both BAMC and University provide the highest level of trauma care together, and we do it every day," he noted. "It's an amazing partnership, especially when we are working together to care for people after a devastating tragedy."

"The staff response has been professional, efficient and caring," said Army Col. Michael Ludwig, deputy commander for inpatient services. "I could not be more proud of the staff -- everyone from housekeeping to the technicians to our senior leaders."

Kelley said she's proud to work at the military's only Level I trauma center.
"As a nurse, it's a very emotional place," she said, "especially when I pick up the phone and someone is looking for a loved one. If I walk out of here and can't cry, then I can't come back, because that means I don't care any more.  Caring is what I do."

Vice Chairman, USO-Metro Salute Military Chefs



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

PENTAGON CITY, Va., Nov. 15, 2017 — Twelve military chefs engaged in their version of the Super Bowl last night at the annual Salute to Military Chefs sponsored by USO-Metro at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here.

And like the New England Patriots in the second half of the most recent Super Bowl, the chefs operated as a team running full tilt as they prepared a six-course dinner for about 200 people.

This was the 20th year that USO-Metro has sponsored the event with BMC, Ribbons Communications and Venge Vineyards. Elaine Rogers, the president and CEO of USO-Metro, said the dinner started as a way to highlight the service members’ contributions to the USO.

“We wanted to honor the military chefs who volunteered for our USO year after year after year bringing that touch of home -- you know, ‘bring food, they will come,’ -- that whole philosophy,” she said.

Highlighting Contributions of Military Chefs“They work so hard for us and so tirelessly behind the scenes. So, this dinner started to highlight their contributions: to be able to say … ‘thank you for what you do,’ and we are bringing you up front to say thank you.”

The young men and women came from all services and serve throughout Washington from the White House to the Defense Secretary’s Mess to the Coast Guard to the National Guard Bureau.

Ritz-Carlton Executive Chef Sriram Harihan turned his banquet kitchen over to the military chefs with no qualms. “These people know what they are doing,” he said. “It is a pleasure to watch them work. I am just worried the area is a bit small.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Edwards, a chef for the Coast Guard commandant, smiled at that statement. “I was on a buoy tender on the Ohio River and the galley was about the size of this table,” he said. “I fed 18 people, three meals a day out of it. We made it work.”

All of the military chefs had similar stories: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Cody Anderson, cooked on a missile submarine; Air Force Staff Sgt. Amber Boyd started her military career in the Security Forces; Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sierra Tyler cooked for hundreds aboard a Navy amphibious vessel. All of them had deployed to the Middle East or other hotspots around the world or performed sea duty numerous times.

Saluting Service Members

That, too, is a measure of their quality, said Chef Robert Irvine, a world-renowned chef and member of the board of USO-Metro. “It’s humbling to watch an 18 year old send off a jet from the end of an aircraft carrier that’s worth $160 million,” he said. “Or standing watch in Mosul or Afghanistan.

“But they don’t do that on their own,” Irvine continued. “What they have that is really special is people preparing meals when they finish that watch. Chefs in the military are the most overlooked people in the world. They are the most amazing folks and the meal you saw tonight is just a fraction of what they can do.”

The final event of the night recognized the Enlisted Aide of the Year. The winner, chosen under the auspices of the Military Hospitality Alliance was Army Master Sgt. Scott Strippoli.

Enlisted Aides

The enlisted aides have to be experts and perfectionists in all they do. They have to understand military and foreign military protocol. They have to be experts on uniforms and ensure they are maintained and updated as needed. The enlisted aides are the ones who work with their bosses for official functions, planning the menus, preparing the food and ensuring all is perfect. They maintain the grounds and public rooms of official residences. Most attain the job after serving as military chefs.

Each service nominated a candidate. In addition to Strippoli, they included: Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Mason T. Champlin; Air Force MSgt. Jeffery Fritz; Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Frida Karani; and Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery D. Matthews Jr.

Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, congratulated all the aides and explained the importance of the position.

“If it is true that our homes are reflection of our character and they only have the charm we bring to them, then you are looking at the charming characters that grace our homes,” Selva said.

“Every one of these enlisted aides in one way or another is part of our lives. For every senior person here, their job is to take care of our residences, to take care of entertaining,” he said. “To make sure that the place we live is ready for anybody to drop in, from a congressman to a senator to a governor to a foreign dignitary to an ambassador.

“And they do it with quiet grace that is simply amazing,” Selva continued. “They are not paid to predict the future -- they are paid to make it. We are all proud of you. You allow us to focus on the work and you represent us in a way none of us could.”

Face of Defense: Military Service Helps Guard Soldier With Civilian Career



By Army Sgt. Zane Craig 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa., Nov. 15, 2017 — Army Spc. Breyonnha Chester, a resident of Philadelphia, serves as a motor transport operator here with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's Detachment 1, 1067th Transportation Company, 213th Regional Support Group.

Primarily responsible for supervising or operating wheeled vehicles to transport personnel and cargo, Chester and her fellow truck drivers form a core component of the Army's support and sustainment structure. Being able to provide that support is one element that drew her to enlisting, she said.

"My dad and grandad both served," Chester said. "I always knew growing up that joining the military and helping others was something I wanted to do."

That call to help others was at the forefront when Chester, along with other soldiers of the 213th RSG, responded in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Within 48 hours of being tasked, the soldiers mobilized and hauled relief supplies and equipment to Texas.

"I think the Pennsylvania National Guard's response to Hurricane Harvey is an amazing thing," she said. "I'm so happy volunteers from the Guard and other states are stepping up to aid Texas in a time of need."

Mission-First Focus

That mission-first focus and discipline also helps Chester in her civilian life as a mail carrier and assistant supervisor for the Newton, Pennsylvania, post office.

"Having the ability to listen well and follow instructions, but also knowing when to step up to lead is important," she said. "These skills have helped me a lot in the civilian world, especially in my position at the post office."

Though her military occupation as a truck driver differs from her civilian career, Chester said, she uses her experiences from each to better herself in both fields. "Though they're quite different jobs, I've found similarities between the two positions because I serve in a leadership role in both," she explained.

At the post office Chester is an assistant supervisor, and in her military capacity she serves as a team leader.

"I have several lower enlisted soldiers in my team I'm responsible for," she said. "I serve as a leader for new soldiers entering the unit. I try to use the skills and lessons I've learned from both aspects of my life -- civilian and military -- to improve my leadership abilities and performance in each position."

And that's all part of ensuring the balance between civilian and military roles, she said.
"As citizen-soldiers, it takes a lot for someone to put their personal life on hold and be ready to assist at a moment's notice," Chester said. "I'm proud to call these people my battle buddies."