Military News

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Boss day shows employers a slice of annual training

By Spc. Alexandria Hughes
32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

Employers such as Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Oshkosh Corporation and the University of Wisconsin-Stout experienced a day of annual training alongside their employees June 18 at Fort McCoy, Wis.

The 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's Boss Day event included a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter orientation flight, a live-fire range visit, the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer (HEAT) rollover training, a tour of the brigade's tactical operations center, and an MRE lunch in the field with their Soldiers.

"It's phenomenal. Really, it's incredibly interesting," Travis D. Turner, area manager for Oshkosh Corporation, said about the Boss Day.

"The Boss Day was designed to show employers what their Soldiers are doing when they train or mobilize," explained Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Kerry G. Denson, Boss Day coordinator for the Wisconsin Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR).

"ESGR also sheds light on the qualities a Guard or Reserve member can bring to the table," Denson continued. "When they hire Guardsmen, they can see all the other jobs and technical training that these employees have received from the National Guard. They are not just infantry Soldiers but mechanics, clerks, and IT technicians as well. They will show up on time, work hard and give 100 percent, because that is what they are trained to do."

"It was fascinating to see what the Soldiers are up to," said Tim A. Strebig, a machine shop supervisor. "I really looked forward to it."

Sasha A. King, who works in UW-Stout's telecommunications and networking department, said the day was interesting. "I learned a lot," she said. "I am very grateful to have the opportunity to come here and see the Soldiers."

Soldiers have a blast shooting cannons again after six-year hiatus

By Spc. Alexandria Hughes
32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

The thunderous blast of a 105-mm light towed howitzer and the smell of cannon smoke soon mingled with shouts and cheers from Soldiers in the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery.

The last time the artillery component of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team fired their M119-A2 howitzers was in the spring of 2005. A series of deployments silenced the guns until June 18, as the 120th took part in its first brigade-wide annual training in years.

"Some of the Soldiers have gone on two deployments since the 120th has fired the howitzers," said Pfc. Jonathan T. Strande, a cannoneer for Battery A, 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery. "Six years is too long. Everybody joined artillery for a reason, and we were all itching to get back on the guns."

Sgt. Alan W. Sazama, a howitzer gunner for Battery A, is part of the team given the opportunity to fire the first shot after winning a "top gun" competition - a contest between howitzer crews to see who could be ready to fire in the shortest amount of time, while meeting all safety measures. The competition reflects the need to be fast and accurate, because in combat a few moments' delay in sending cannon fire downrange can cost the lives of those calling for artillery support.

"The fastest and the safest to lay the piece won," Sazama said. To "lay the piece" means the cannon is properly emplaced and aligned with safety and aiming devices.

"It felt incredible to be number one," Strande said. "The competition was battalion level, with two units and 10 sections, but we were the one's able to pull together and work as a team."

Sazama agreed. "We are honored to be given the chance to do this, especially when it means so much to the unit," he said.

The 1st Batallion, 120th Field Artillery is headquartered in Wisconsin Rapids, with subordinate units in Marshfield and Stevens Point.

With renewed motivation, and high spirits, the 120th continued training. "We're going to expand and build on what we're doing here," Sazama said. "The first shot was just the first step."

USO Breaks Ground on Wounded Warrior, Family Center

By Rob McIlvaine
Army News Service

FORT BELVOIR, Va., June 28, 2011 – A groundbreaking ceremony here yesterday marked the beginning of construction for the USO’s first stateside center that will provide noncritical care and support for wounded, injured and ill service members.

The center also will support families and caregivers of the wounded as they transition from inpatient to outpatient care.

The ceremony also marked the official launch of Operation Enduring Care, USO’s $100 million support initiative. A quarter of these funds will go to construct both the center here and one at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Another $25 million will ensure these centers are self-supporting, and $50 million will underwrite programs to be offered at the centers and around the world for service members and their families.

"It's a great day for Fort Belvoir and the warrior care triad," Army Col. John J. Strycula, Fort Belvoir garrison commander, said at the event. "Along with our new community hospital, our wounded warrior complex with personnel lodging, command and control headquarters, and Soldier and Family Assistance Center -- and this USO facility where warriors can relax -- we’ll have established a home away from home."

Strycula said about 200 wounded warriors will initially move here from the closing Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., with the capacity being more than 400.

The center, he noted, will be an important cog in the concept of soldier and family-centered care and recovery. It will include a family kitchen, a children’s play space, recreational areas, classrooms, a learning center and a business center.

The center also will also be a place where soldiers and families can find peace, solace and care during their recovery process. The 25,000-square-foot building also will include movie theaters and healing gardens.

Strycula said that although the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are slowing down, the need to care for the complexity of wounded warriors' and their families’ visible and invisible wounds will continue far into the future.

"We've learned that healing is much more than just a physical process. True and complete healing encompasses physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family healing,” he said. “That's what complete healing is all about, and that's what makes our warriors Army strong.”

"When our troops come home, we have a commitment to do the right thing,” he added.

Also attending the event were Sloan D. Gibson, USO’s president and CEO; Sue Timken, co-chair of Operation Enduring Care; Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia’s 8th District; Rep. Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia’s 11th District; and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

"In many ways, my career of 37 years began with the USO when they helped Second Lieutenant Dempsey after landing in Germany," the general said. Caring for service members and their families is an enduring responsibility, he added.

"Over the last 10 years, I’ve often wondered, ‘Why do these young men and women of all branches of service … do what we ask them to do … why do they venture out into harm’s way?’” he said. “They do that because of one simple value that defines our profession -- and that value is trust.

“They trust the men and women to their left and right,” he continued. “They trust their leaders, and importantly, they trust that behind them, back in the United States … that if something happens to them, they’ll be cared for medically ... [and] their families will be cared for, and that’s what this is all about.

"And I’m very proud and very excited for what the people at the USO are doing," the general added.

In 2003, the USO began its care for the wounded warrior community at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Five years later, the USO Warrior Center was built at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to serve the outpatient wounded until they were cleared to return to their unit in Afghanistan or Iraq.

In 2010, the USO launched comprehensive long-term programs designed to create a continuum of care, including physical health and recreation, mental health support, family strengthening, education, employment and community integration.

The Wounded Warrior and Family Center here is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2012.

Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: What Does PTSD Mean To You?

Posted by Dr. James Bender, DCoE psychologist

Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

Hi. June 27 is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day. It’s designed to promote awareness and dialogue about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Few of the only good things to come out of war are the tremendous advances in the science of treating illness and injuries, both physical and psychological. These advances are due partly to more resources and attention being paid to combat-related injuries and partly due to health care providers, unfortunately, getting a lot more practice in treating these conditions.

PTSD was first recognized as a “real” mental illness in this country in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, a long book that lists every mental condition that’s formally recognized. This disorder was around long before that, ever since combat has been around. There are writings by ancient Greek warriors from the Battle of Marathon about soldiers with no physical ailments who suffered because of the stress they encountered. In the American Civil War, PTSD was called “nostalgia” and treatment consisted of a soldier, especially Southern soldiers who lived close to the battlefield, walking home and taking a few days off before returning to the battlefield. (Interestingly, we still use a similar approach today in certain cases.) In World War I it was called shell shock and in World War II it was called neurosis, an old Freudian term that means anxiety. In the Vietnam Era the symptoms were described as combat stress reaction.

Today, there is more awareness, research and treatment for PTSD. Researchers are working hard to increase our understanding of and treatments for the disorder. New advances in brain imaging have led to remarkable discoveries. For example, PTSD actually shrinks a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which grows back with successful treatment.

Unfortunately, we didn’t always understand or appreciate the effects of PTSD the way we do now. A lot of vets from previous wars were labeled as cowards or fakers for speaking about their symptoms or seeking help. Their voices and demands for research and treatment paved the way for the advances we have today. Vietnam vets in particular lobbied professional groups and legislatures to do something about the problem. I do a lot of outreach and advocacy in my job at DCoE and some of the biggest advocates for this generation’s veterans are Vietnam vets. Several of them have told me, “I want America to treat you better than it treated me.”

So this Monday, I’m going to give thanks to all the warriors who worked tirelessly and effectively to bring this problem to the forefront. As both a clinician and a veteran, I owe them a lot.

Thank you for your service. Those of you in Iraq and Afghanistan, stay safe and cool. Leave me a note if you have any questions or comments.

National Guard Helps Make Water Safe in Minot

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

MINOT, N.D., June 27, 2011 – When floodwaters back up city water and sanitation systems and make the water unsafe to drink, residents can quickly find themselves in short supply of a much-needed resource.

That’s where soldiers like Army Sgt. Burton Atkinson and Army Sgt. 1st Class John Halgren come in. Making dirty water safe to drink is what they and their team do, and they’re putting those skills to use at the local hospital here.

“We’re purifying water for the hospital … in case the water plant has a problem,” said Halgren, a water purification specialist with the North Dakota National Guard’s 136th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.

Civilian officials sent out a boil order for residents of the flooded city. “Right now, in the city of Minot, you’re not supposed to drink the tap water” since it has been deemed unsafe, explained Atkinson, a water purification noncommissioned officer with the 132nd Quartermaster Company.

Atkinson said the water purification unit his team set up is helping people to avoid “a bunch of steps” to get clean water.

Like many other soldiers, Atkinson has seen a lot of calls-to-action in the last month in many parts of the state.

“We’ve been in Minot on this [mission] for about a week-and-a-half. We spent a week in Bismarck, and we’ll be here for another week,” he said. “We’ve been running all sorts of missions, staying busy and doing a little bit of everything.”

Atkinson -- like many other North Dakota Guard members -- is no stranger to the recent flooding in his state.

“I live in an evacuated area down in Velva,” he said. “As of right now, there is no water at my house, but I have everything taken out of it.”

Atkinson said he enjoys helping flood victims as part of his job as a water purification sergeant.

“It’s hard to be away from family and your home,” he said, “especially when you’re in an evacuated area … but I’m glad to be here and helping out Minot because there is really nothing I can do at my house.”

Family Matters Blog: DOD Program Inspires Kids to Read

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2011 – The day after school let out for the summer, I raced to find activities to fill those long, lazy days of summer for my 2-, 7- and 9-year-old.

While I want my kids to relax and enjoy their time off, my 7-year-old, in particular, has a couch-potato tendency that I struggle to contain. If I let him, he’d be happy to plant himself in front of the TV, remote in hand, and not budge until the fall school bell rings.

With that and my ever-shrinking budget in mind, I first searched for free community activities and lucked out by finding a great summer reading program at my local library. My kids simply have to read books, keep track of them on a log, and then can participate in weekly activities and earn small prizes.

As an added bonus, reading will help keep their minds sharp. Studies indicate there’s a significant summertime loss in literacy and learning if kids stop reading. And, according to one study, students who read over the summer scored better in reading achievement tests in the fall, and had better literacy and analytical skills.

Aware of these benefits, Defense Department libraries have launched a DOD-wide summer reading program in the hopes of inspiring children -- and adults -- of all ages to read this summer.

Visitors to libraries on 270 military installations around the world are invited to join “A Midsummer Knight’s Read,” an activity-packed reading program with a medieval twist.

Libraries can customize the program to suit local needs, but weekly activities may include candle-making, planting an herb garden, learning to weave, creating a sorcerer’s hat and ballad writing. Snacks range from smothered bread and chocolate toads to dragon’s breath candy mix and medieval gingerbread.

The program inspires a love of reading in children, said Margie Buchanan, libraries division chief for the Air Force Services Agency, and “the activities offer them a chance to learn more about arts and crafts and music.”

For more on this program, read my American Forces Press Service article, “DOD Libraries Launch Summer Reading Program.” You also can stop by your local library or visit the program’s website. Military families who aren’t near a base can email to find out how to participate.

Oak Hill Sailors Maintain Historical Monuments

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Brian Goodwin, Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) took part in a community relations (COMREL) project by maintaining and improving the Gloucester World War II Memorial in Gloucester, Mass., June 24.

When the opportunity came for Sailors to improve a historical monument, they volunteered to make an impact in the community.

"It's so very important to do something positive no matter where we go because it helps to show the public that we want to give back to a community that welcomes us wherever we go," said Yeoman 2nd Class Michael George, from Marysville, Ohio.

The Oak Hill Sailors worked side-by-side with Gloucester's Department of Public Works (DPW), who were appreciative of the assistance.

"Whenever we have help with maintaining the area, it helps us a great deal knowing that there are those that care about these places as much as we do," said Joe Biondo, a DPW worker.

Cmdr. David Bauer, Oak Hill commanding officer, looked at the community relations project as a way for his Sailors to interact with the community.

"These kinds of events are what my Sailors need because it allows them to not only see different parts of the U.S., but teaches them different parts of our great nation's rich traditions," said Bauer.

National Museum of the United States Navy Host "Girls Make History Day"

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gina K. Morrissette, Naval History and Heritage Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The National Museum of the United States Navy sponsored the third annual "Girls Make History Day,", Washington, D.C., for more than 800 children, June 25.

The event was based on the popular American Girl doll series and encouraged the children to explore U.S. naval history and heritage through the stories of American Girl characters that lived during significant periods in U.S. history.

Karin Hill, director of education and public programs for the museum has organized this event for the past three years.

"This event gives young girls a chance to come and explore the history of the U.S. Navy through the eyes of historic American girls," she said. "We picked 10 historic women and we set up activities to talk about their history and what the Navy was doing during that same time. We hope to entice these young ladies to explore the historical time period of these women and also to interact with the men and women in uniform."

Hill went on to say that this event gives children the opportunity to see more of women's history, in American culture and in the Navy, than is commonly seen.

"All too often when we think about military and historic events, we think of men," said Hill. "I think these young ladies need to be encouraged to explore what options and career paths are open to them – if we can get them a little more interested in our history and help them see their full potential by using a popular series of characters from American Girl then all the better."

American Girl characters were created more than 25 years ago to show young girls that they can do great things if they believe in themselves. The characters in each story illustrate the power of determination, imagination, courage, and hope.

Jackie Greene, author of the American Girl Rebecca Rubin series was on hand to sign books and autographs.

"Being here with the military and seeing all of these amazing women in uniform, who have experienced so much, is a great opportunity for me," said Greene. "I think that the young ladies here today are so lucky to be learning about women's history, not only from the American Girl books, but also from these historic women walking around the museum today."

Museum employees and volunteers were present throughout the day, providing BBQ food and helping the children with hands-on activity stations based upon 10 of the historic American Girl characters.

Clarissa Dean, a museum technician working at the museum, was one of the volunteers at this year's event and she believes holding Girls Make History day at the Naval Museum is one of the best ways for children to experience American history.

"Having this event take place at the Naval Museum is the best place I could imagine it being held," she said. "Having it here enables us to have the American Girl crafts at each table tailored specifically to naval history of that same time period. The children have the chance to learn more about their dolls while learning about other things that were going on in history from the displays surrounding them."

As part of the event, the museum raffled three full-size American Girl dolls. Additionally, three lucky children, who came dressed as their favorite characters, received mini American Girl dolls.

Claira Cunningham, who came dressed as her favorite character, Josefina, said that she loves learning about the heritage of her doll.

"I really like learning about the culture of Indians the most," she said. "Josefina is Spanish, but I picked her because she looked the most like me."

Calira's Father, Capt. Tom Cunningham, director of facilities for the Washington Naval Yard, said that the American Girl characters and products are great for more reasons than one.

"These dolls not only portray these historic women as younger girls to match the age group of my daughters," said Cunnigham. "They also offer an alternative to what a lot of kids are using for education these days - electronics. These dolls and their stories give children a chance to use their imaginations to learn about history, rather than turning to televisions or computers."

"We hope that this event will teach these children that what women have accomplished in the past can also be accomplished today," said Greene. "From the American Girl stories and from naval history they can see that their life may not be so different from someone else who may have lived in the early 1900's. No matter what era you are from, girls can have dreams, and if they work hard enough, those dreams can come true."

MCPON Sends Independence Day Message

By Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released an Independence Day message to the Fleet, June 27.

"Shipmates and Navy Families,

For 235 years, our great nation has celebrated our independence and reflected on those whose sacrifices continue to secure our nation's liberty. I am very proud of each and every one of you for the daily sacrifices that you and your families graciously make to keep America the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

As many of us take some much deserved time off to celebrate the Fourth of July, please keep in mind that many of our Sailors are deployed and can't be with their loved ones, but they do so in order that our fellow citizens can spend it with their families and friends.

I also urge that you keep safety in mind during your holiday celebrations. We have already lost shipmates unnecessarily to motor vehicle accidents and recreational activities this year. We must look out for our Shipmates, families and friends as we take to the highways, waterways, and our backyards. As you know, many people will be on the road - if you decide to drink, don't drive and have a plan to get home.

I'm honored to serve among you and I'm thankful for your continued dedication to our nation and our great Navy.

Stay focused; stay alert; stay safe; and happy Independence Day!

HOOYAH Warriors!

Very Respectfully,


Troy, MI, June 27, 2011, Ziebart International Corp. offers a unique franchise opportunity for military veterans in the automotive business sector. Ziebart has been recognized for efforts by supporting veterans and has recently been included on the Military Friendly Franchises Top 200 list for 2011.

“Out of respect for their dedicated service, for returning military veterans looking to become a franchise owner and start their own business, Ziebart International will waive 100% of the $25,000 license fee for those who qualify,” states Thomas E. Wolfe, CEO of Ziebart International Corp. “Another great benefit offered to military veterans is through the assistance that the corporation provides to the business staff when the franchise owner is called back to guard or reserve duty.” 

Since 1964, Ziebart International Corp. has been a dedicated member of the International Franchise Association, or IFA, which also offers incentives through the VetFran program (Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative) and is currently recruiting qualified veterans to acquire franchise businesses.

For additional information on Ziebart franchising and military assistance programs, please visit

Ziebart International Corp. is headquartered in Troy, MI, representing a global franchise network of vehicle appearance and protection services for over 50 years. The company was founded on rustproofing in 1959 and operates 400 locations in 30 countries. Ziebart is the world’s leading name in automotive services that renew, protect, preserve and enhance the appearance of cars and trucks. Once known for just rust protection, Ziebart now offers a full line of appearance and protection services for both the interior and exterior of vehicles, including professional detailing, sprayed-on-bed liners, automotive glass repair, window tint, truck accessories, electronic systems and scratch repair services. For products, services and location information, visit

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

This Day in Naval History - June 27

From the Navy News Service

1813 - USS President anchors in Bergen, Norway.
1950 - To support United Nations call to assist South Korea, President Harry S. Truman authorizes U.S. naval and air operations south of 38th Parallel, Korea.