Wednesday, September 05, 2018

First Invisible Wounds Center Opens at Eglin Air Force Base

By Ilka Cole, Eglin Air Force Base

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 96th Medical Group held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center here Aug. 30.

More than 120 people attended the event and toured the new facility, including Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg, Air Force Brig. Gen. Evan C. Dertien, the 96th Test Wing commander, and members of the local community.

Hogg thanked everyone who helped to stand up the center and reaffirmed the Air Force’s commitment to providing “trusted care” to service members.

“Standing up this facility is just the first step of many in our commitment to care for our warriors with invisible wounds,” she said. “We owe these brave men and women the very best treatment possible. Today, we make good on that commitment.”

The center will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries.

“The center is ready to treat retirees, Guard, Reserve, and active duty members from our sister services who carry the weight of invisible wounds,” Hogg said. “Our goal is to eliminate barriers to care. We want to treat our service members with dignity through every phase of their recovery.”

“The facility and the capabilities we are building here have the impact and the potential to change people’s lives,” Dertien said. “This sends the message that we can talk about invisible wounds. It’s OK to ask for help. We’re here for you, we’re ready to serve you.”

Modeled After Intrepid Spirit Centers

The Invisible Wounds Center, modeled after the best practices of the Intrepid Spirit Centers, will assemble a team of 18 specialties under one roof to provide treatment in an individually tailored, holistic and integrated fashion, using a combination of conventional and complementary therapies. Art and music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, physical and occupational therapy and mental health services will also be included in treatment.
The 96th Medical Group held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center Aug. 30.
Lt. Gen. Dorothy A. Hogg, Air Force surgeon general, talks with a veteran during a tour of the Air Force’s first Invisible Wounds Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Aug. 30, 2018. The center will serve as a regional treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries. Air Force photo by Ilka Cole

“Having all these services under one roof, complementing each other, provides treatment and healing in ways that are only now being recognized,” Hogg said. “The providers will also address physical, spiritual, mental and social well-being to further ensure positive health outcomes."

Hogg shared positive accounts from wounded warriors she met at Intrepid Spirit Centers on military installations around the country. She attributed their success to the mind-and-body approach to treatment and community involvement. She also noted patient, caregiver and family education is key component in the healing process.

“We learned the best outcomes occur when a host of people are involved in the healing process,” she said. “Complete healing and reintegration requires healing the patient as well as the family.”

The ceremony concluded with an announcement for the military community.

Intrepid Spirit Facility Planned

Hogg said the Defense Department recently accepted a proffer from Arnold Fisher, honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, to build an Intrepid Spirit Center here, making it the tenth of its kind and the first on an Air Force base. Plans for the groundbreaking are underway, and officials expect completion of the facility in 2020.

Fisher describes these facilities as “centers of hope,” and adds that these center are not built by the government, but by donations from the American people, Hogg said. He finds that thought reassuring, she added, because Americans believe this is the right model to treat invisible wounds.

“Fisher is determined to continue his mission to build Intrepid Spirit Centers,” Hogg said. “Today the Air Force is forever grateful to him and all the donors who will make the Intrepid Spirit Center here a reality.”

Face of Defense: Rwanda-Born Airman Finds Success in Service

By Ilka Cole, Eglin Air Force Base

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When he was a youth in Rwanda, Karl Mutangana dreamed of achieving a better life.

From immigrant to Airman

Today, Mutangana successfully serves as a senior airman and supply liaison for F-35 Lightning II aircraft parts with the 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron here.

“I’m grateful. Being in the United States Air Force is an enlightening experience,” Mutangana said. “It’s rewarding to see what I do supports the test aircraft and a larger mission.”

Mutangana, 22, was born in Kigali, Rwanda, and is the eldest of five siblings.

“Growing up in Rwanda had its ups and downs,” he said. “Sometimes, we didn’t have anything to eat. The entire community would be without food, so it didn’t bother us as much. We didn’t dwell on it. We just lived.”

Mutangana was 11 years old when his mother moved to America. He remained in Rwanda with his grandmother.

Arrival in America

Eventually, after three immigration application denials, Mutangana was granted a permanent residence card and joined his mother and his America-born siblings in Connecticut in 2015.

“There are no words to express how I felt when I was reunited with my family,” he said. “It was the happiest moment of life to finally hug my mum and meet my siblings.”

Mutangana found himself drawn to the Air Force’s culture of integrity and leadership.

“I felt the Air Force would be a good platform to develop my leadership skills and further my education. It would be living my dream.” he said. “I always knew I wouldn’t stay in Rwanda forever. I wanted to open up and seek new opportunities.”

Despite some uncertainty about the requirements for joining the Air Force, Mutangana placed his hopes and dreams in what his mother always told him, “Anything you think of, dream of -- you can achieve it.”

Beginning of Success Story

“When the recruiter told me I was eligible. I knew it was the beginning of my success story,” Mutangana said. “I was glad for the opportunity to join the world's greatest Air force.”

Mutangana became an American citizen at his Air Force basic training graduation ceremony.

He was recently promoted to senior airman. His job as a liaison between suppliers ensures F-35 aircraft parts are prioritized according to mission needs.
“Mutangana was handpicked to help lead the new F-35 mission capable section here and he’s become a key player,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephany Birkos, Mutangana’s supervisor. “He makes me proud. His motivation and passion are what our Air Force needs.”

U.S., Pakistani Leaders Agree to Reset Relationship

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held talks with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad today to reset the relationship between the two countries.

Pompeo and Dunford met with new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“We talked abut their new government and the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum: economic, business, commercial -- the work that we all need to do to try to develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan,” Pompeo told reporters here.

Pompeo and Dunford stopped here on their way to the “Two-Plus-Two” talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi. It was the most senior meeting between the representatives of the U.S. government and Pakistan’s new government.

Dunford supported the secretary in his efforts to reset the relationship.

Consistent Objectives

“When we talked to General Bajwa on a military-to-military level, we listened to the prime minister very carefully [and] we listened to the secretary very carefully. The objectives were very consistent between the secretary and prime minister,” Dunford said. “General Bajwa and I agreed that we will leverage the military-to-military relationship for the secretary and prime minister and, more importantly, for President Trump’s South Asia Strategy.”

When President Donald J. Trump announced the South Asia Strategy, Pakistan had a large role to play. “The president’s South Asia strategy was pretty clearly articulated in 2017, and the expectations that we have that Pakistan will cooperate in bringing the Taliban to … an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process is pretty clear as well,” Dunford said during an earlier discussion with reporters traveling with him. “I think our bilateral relationship moving forward is very much going to be informed by the degree of cooperation from Pakistan in doing it.”

Pakistan has a unique role in dealing with the Taliban, who operate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In announcing the strategy last year, Trump said that Pakistan “often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”

He called on Pakistan to stop providing safe havens for terrorists who rest and refit for actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. “Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists,” the president said at the time.

Actions Must Back Up Words

Pakistani leaders have been fully briefed on the South Asia Strategy. “On the surface, they say they want to cooperate,” Dunford said earlier. “On the surface, they say they recognize that a peaceful solution in Afghanistan is the right approach. On the surface, they say they support an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process. So what we are looking for is the actions to back that up.

“What we want to see: The Taliban at the peace table dealing with Afghans,” he continued. “And we believe the Pakistanis play a unique role in bringing the Taliban to the peace process.”

U.S. officials also believe Pakistan can have an effect on the Haqqani network, which has been a thorn in the side of coalition and Afghan government efforts in eastern Afghanistan for years. “We also believe the Pakistanis play a unique role in Haqqani’s behavior and the threats we have seen to NATO/allied forces, coalition forces and Afghan forces,” Dunford said.

Following the discussions, Pompeo said the military-to-military relationship underpins the move to reset the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. There will be more discussions ahead, and there must be more results, he said.

“The relationship -- military-to-military -- is one that has remained in a place where some of the other relationships haven’t, frankly. They still continued to have relations, worked on projects that are important together, and I hope we can use that as one of the foundational elements, as well.”

The bottom line with the talks is that the Pakistanis “agreed it is time to deliver on our joint commitments,” Pompeo said.

“We’ve had lots of time where we’ve talked and made agreements, but we haven’t been able to actually execute those,” he said. “So there was broad agreement … that we need to begin to do things on the ground that will deliver outcomes so we can begin to build confidence and trust between the two countries.”