Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Combat Rations Change to Reflect Troops’ Palates

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2012 – For a sense of what’s ahead for combat rations, check out offerings at one of the many sit-down chain restaurants that have sprung up like mushrooms around the country and outside many military bases.

Food scientists at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center near Boston look to Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s and other popular chain eateries for inspiration in their quest to provide warfighters the kind of food they’d seek out at home if they weren’t deployed, explained Jeremy Whitsitt, technology integration analyst for the center’s Department of Defense combat feeding directorate.

So “Meals, Ready to Eat” and other combat rations the Natick center develops for all the services are a blend of comfort foods such as the ever-popular beef stew, old standbys such as spaghetti and meat sauce and an increasing number of ethnic selections, particularly Italian, Mexican and Oriental dishes, he said.

A Southwest beef and black bean dish introduced in 2010 is “quickly becoming a favorite,” Whitsitt said, along with a Mediterranean-inspired chicken with tomato and feta cheese course also added that year. Ratatouille and Santa Fe rice and beans entrees made their debut in 2011. This year, Asian pepper steak and Mexican chicken stew went into production.

Also new for 2012 are au gratin potatoes -- one of Whitsitt’s personal favorites -- as well as multigrain snack bread, jalapeno-cheese-filled crackers, a fiber-fortified banana nut Ranger bar and sour fruit candy discs.

“We try to stay true to what our demographic is eating when they are not on the battlefield, and I think our current product offering reflects a lot of that,” Whitsitt said. “With the advances in food science and processing technology and packaging innovation -- and I think most warfighters would back me up on this -- I think we actually have a very good, current, trendy product offering out there now.”

Keeping up with changing culinary trends in developing combat rations is a never-ending process. “We run a continuous product improvement program,” Whitsitt said, balancing what troops want to eat with other considerations such as nutrition and field-worthiness.

Achieving that balance is no hit-or-miss proposition. There’s a ton of science behind it, with food scientists factoring in challenges that the popular eateries they strive to emulate simply don’t have to contend with.

MREs must be able to maintain their quality for three years if stored at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or six months when exposed to more extreme temperatures. They must satisfy the surgeon general’s strict nutritional requirements, with specific standards for calories and for composition of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Even more challenging, they have to be packaged to withstand being airdropped by parachute, free-dropped from 100 feet and subjected to rough handling and extreme temperature swings.

To make sure they meet these standards, testers at Natick subject them to scorching heat and frigid cold, high impacts to ensure they don’t break open when airdropped, and nutrition analyses to make sure they meet prescribed requirements.

But no matter how well MRE items perform in these tests, they never enter the military inventory until they survive the toughest test of all: the troop taste test.

Every year, a team of product developers, food scientists, nutritionists and consumer researchers travel to field training exercises to hear firsthand what troops think of current combat rations referred to as the “control group” and some of the most promising prototype entrees.

“We collect a lot of data, and from that data we boil it down to: here are the top-rated items from the new group, and here are some of the lowest-rated items from the control group,” Whitsitt said. Those findings then go to a joint-service operational rations forum, which approves eliminating the least-popular current selections and replacing them with the highest-rated new ones.

Based on overwhelming service member input, “country captain chicken,” a cross between chicken a la king and chicken and dumplings, got scratched off the MRE menu board back in 2005. The veggie omelet followed suit in 2009.

Last year, white albacore tuna, chicken and dumplings, the veggie griller and Mexican corn got dropped from production. This year, the same fate fell to the hamburger patty, Buffalo chicken and Mexican rice.

Whitsitt acknowledged that decisions about what foods stay or are introduced and which ones are dropped is challenging because “somebody’s least-favorite item might be somebody else’s most-favorite item.”

But he said he’s convinced that a product improvement process based 100 percent on customer recommendations and feedback is paying off. “A lot of the comments that we get hint to the fact that we are pleasing most of the people most of the time,” he said. “And when it comes to food, that probably is the greatest compliment you can get, considering you are talking about 2.2 million warfighters.”

Tales of military rations falling short of the mark in the past have become the stuff of legends. During Operations Desert Shield and Storm in 1990 and 1991, Army Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, reportedly was so dissatisfied with the state of MREs that he summoned the director of the combat feeding program to his office. As the story goes, Powell held up an MRE and rendered the simple order: “Fix it.”

Since then, 241 new ration items have been added to better reflect what warfighters want, and the fixing continues. “There is always room for improvement,” Whitsitt said.

In that quest, the researchers at Natick and their industry and academic partners are pushing the envelope in food processing and packaging to broaden the array of foods they can deliver.

One, which the FDA approved in 2009, involves pressure-assisted thermal sterilization -- basically, using high pressure rather than intense heat to sterilize MREs and other combat rations. The benefit, Whitsitt explained, is less protein degradation during processing and improved taste, texture, odor, flavor and overall product quality.

The FDA also approved another technology Natick advanced with its partners: microwave-assisted thermal sterilization that heats packaged foods uniformly to kill any bacteria. In the past, microwaves heated foods unevenly, either “overcooking” the entire product or heating some parts enough to kill the bacteria but leaving some parts below that “kill temperature.”

These new processing methods open the door for improving the quality and acceptability of combat rations, while also expanding their product offerings, Whitsitt explained. This could include foods that couldn’t stand up to standard sterilization methods, such as fish and seafood. Using the new methods, “you can actually start to see something like a salmon filet in an MRE, which is unheard of right now,” he said.

Natick scientists already have developed a prototype salmon-in-alfredo-sauce entrée using microwave-assisted sterilization. “It’s a very high-quality product, but also shelf-stable for three years,” Whitsitt said.

Meanwhile, food scientists also are looking at ways to enhance the warfighting capability combat rations provide.

Caffeine, for example, is known to increase people’s cognitive abilities when they’re fatigued or under stress. So Natick food scientists have come up with a caffeine-infused meat stick, and also are looking at other ways to deliver caffeine, possibly through a bar, gum or candy product, Whitsitt said.

They’re also exploring innovative ways to boost physical and cognitive performance by lacing foods with naturally occurring compounds such as curcumin and Omega 3s, he said. Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory supplement, and Omega 3s found in fish oils promote a broad range of functions, including reducing cholesterol and heart disease. New research also suggests they play a role in preventing traumatic brain injury -- an obvious concern on the battlefield, Whitsitt reported.

Several new food items being developed at Natick incorporate Omega 3 fatty acids in a chicken chili dish and also bakery items such as cookies and cakes.

As some Natick researchers strive to improve food processing and foods themselves, others are studying ways to reduce the weight of the rations.

“We know that the warfighters already are sometimes carrying 75 to 100 pounds on their back, and the last thing we want to do is to add more weight or unnecessary weight for them,” Whitsitt said. “So we are looking at ways to reduce that weight in rations -- while still maintaining the proper calorie count so they have the proper nutrition, the proper energy and the proper percentages of fat, proteins and carbohydrates.”

Whitsitt said there’s a clear understanding at Natick that the work done in the food lab has a direct impact on the mission -- and the health and well-being of those carrying it out.

Napoleon Bonaparte famously observed 200 years ago that an army marches on its stomach. And despite all the changes that have taken face in warfare, Whitsitt said, that adage still holds true, impacting warfighters every single day. “They may not fire a weapon every day or drive a Humvee or [mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle] every day, but they certainly are eating every day,” he said.

Natick’s focus, Whitsitt said, is to make that experience as beneficial and positive as possible.

“Our whole mission is to ensure the joint warfighter is the best-fed warfighter in the world,” he said. “And we take our mission very seriously, because we truly feel that we are fueling the Defense Department’s most adaptive and flexible weapons platform, which is the individual warfighter.”

VA's War Against the US Navy's Agent Orange Survivors

The January 26, 2012, episode of American Heroes Radio features a conversation with former US Marine Bob Ford, the author of War Against the Navy. 

Program Date: January 26, 2012
Program Time: 1500 hours, PACIFIC
Topic: VA's War Against the US Navy's Agent Orange Survivors

About the Program
Our Guest, Bob Ford is a former US Marine & author of War Against the Navy 

According to the book description, "Agent Orange is a term used to describe a combination of deadly dioxins which were repeatedly sprayed over Vietnam for the purpose of defoliating the jungles. The term originated from the Orange stripe around the barrels of chemicals that were used.

Dumped by the tons from the skies from large multi-engine aircraft, often 3 & 4 abreast, & it did indeed transform much of Vietnam into a deadly wasteland. It also exposed American servicemen & women to the origins of numerous cancers that now have them dying at a rate of 13 years earlier than their counterparts who did not serve in Vietnam. When all this was taking place, the military was told there was nothing to fear from Agent Orange. 

After years of denial in a prolonged battle by Vietnam veterans, the government finally acknowledged the disabilities caused by Agent Orange, and a system was established to process claims for those who now have one or more of the related diseases recognized by VA as caused by exposure to these chemicals. The legislation was clear in that anyone who served, whether on land or sea, was presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange. Obviously, the one claim no veteran would ever hope to file with VA would be for Agent Orange benefits. The stark reality is that you must already have cancer to qualify.

The main conclusion of this story is there is a controlling group of senior bureaucrats within the United States Department of Veterans Affairs who are relentlessly determined to prevent United States Navy veterans of the Vietnam War from receiving benefits that are automatically granted to all other Vietnam veterans.”

About the Guest
Bob Ford has spent his life trying to make a difference where he could. He was a Marine infantryman, serving as clerk, radio operator and machine gunner. While a student under the GI Bill, he started a volunteer counseling program, by veterans for veterans, to help other veterans get into college. Upon graduation from Penn State in 1970, his program was adopted by Governor Shafer as Pennsylvania’s Program to Advance Veterans Education (PAVE), with Ford as Director, and with counseling centers at over 50 campuses eventually aided thousands of Pennsylvania veterans to receive a college degree. He was appointed to the national Veteran’s Education and Training Action Committee (VETAC) where he served with Bob Hope, Neil Armstrong and General William Westmoreland, and he was one of three veterans, along with John Kerry and John O’Neill, invited to address the 1971 national convention of the National League of Cities, U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

In 1971, Ford was appointed by President Nixon to replace Brigadier General Henry Gross as Pennsylvania State Director of the Selective Service System, becoming, at age 31, the youngest Draft Director in the history of the United States, where he supervised the second largest operation in the Selective Service System, with over 70 Field Grade Officers, active and reserve, from all branches of the U.S. military, 176 Draft Boards, and over 800,000 registrants. 

He was often in the news as he quickly changed many draft boards in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh from all white to all black members, appointed many women to draft boards, and eliminated occupational deferments for thousands of young men, including school teachers, athletes,  and Amish and Mennonite farmers. He also appointed the first 18-year-old draft board member in U.S. history, and to emphasize fairness in Pennsylvania, he personally handed the draft notice to his own brother-in-law, who was subsequently inducted into the U. S. Army. Ford was awarded the Selective Service Silver medal, and two Bronze medals for his performance. At the request of Governor Shapp, to celebrate the 1973 homecoming of Pennsylvania’s P.O.W’s, Ford originated a new program which was to become the Governor’s Veterans Action Centers, which operated until 2010. 

In 1989, Ford had a private clubs’ liquor license revoked for racial discrimination against a retired U. S. Army veteran. Bob Ford’s latest successful project, on Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, was to have the Newville, Pennsylvania Post Office named in honor of SFC Randall D. Shughart, Medal of Honor recipient for the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia.

War Against the US Navy is his newest project. It is written in the hope of convincing the President of the United States to restore equality and benefits to those sailors and Marines who served their nation honorably in the Vietnam War. 

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life.  Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting. 

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years.  He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant.  He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University.  He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership.  Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One.  He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole:

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Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

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Yama Sakura 61: Guard members among U.S. personnel getting unique cultural experience

By Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Fredrick Varney
Kentucky National Guard

CAMP ITAMI, Japan (1/24/2012) - Many times when a U.S. Soldier hears the word “exercise” he or she may often think of a broad range of training possibilities that may include use of advanced weaponry, communications, or even time spent in a field training environment.

 However, the annual Yama Sakura in Japan offers a unique cultural experience designed to strengthen relationships between U.S. personnel and their Japanese counterparts.

 This year’s Yama Sakura 61 presents the largest bilateral exercise between the U.S. Army Pacific and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force since the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March 2011.

Various entertainment and cultural activities include a Japanese drum performance and traditional Awa dance, a tea ceremony, as well as courses of instruction in calligraphy, ceramics, and cooking.

 There are also several off-post tours that enable U.S. Soldiers to see the beautiful sights and historical landmarks of Japan such as the Kyoto Temple, Todai Temple, and Osaka Castle.

“This is my first time overseas and I had no idea about what to expect from the Japanese culture,” said Army Pvt. Tyler J. Ritter, a motor transport operator for the 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota National Guard.

 Ritter said the ceramics course was his favorite cultural activity because of the tremendous challenge that was presented to him.

“Centering the symbols properly on the bowl takes a great deal of precision. I am very excited to tell my parents about this wonderful experience here in Japan,” he said.

 According to Army Sgt. 1st Class Natsuo Endo, a drill instructor for the Middle Army Combined Brigade at Camp Itami, Japan, the Soldiers are very motivated to learn new and exciting things about the history of Japan.

“It has been very interesting for us to show the Soldiers about our culture and customs. “I personally observed the Soldiers to be great students while participating in the cultural activities thus far.”

 “Although the highlight of this event is the main exercise, it is also very important to develop our bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Japan through various cultural activities.”
Nearly 800 U.S. military service personnel and more than 3,500 Japan Ground Self Defense Force are participating in Yama Sakura 61 Jan. 23 through Feb. 5 which focuses primarily on the bilateral and joint planning, coordination, and interoperability of ground based elements of the United States and Japan security alliance.

DOD Website Connects Military Kids

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2012 – A new Defense Department website is connecting military children -- whether it’s across town or across the world -- who are dealing with a loved one’s deployment.

The website, Military Kids Connect, offers military children an online community where they can learn about deployments, recognize and share feelings, and develop coping skills.

Psychologists from the DOD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed the site to build on military kids’ strength and resilience, especially as they deal with the unique stressors of military life.

“We felt by connecting military kids with each other, through providing peer-to-peer support, they’d be able to build on the resilience they have already and learn new coping skills to deal with deployments,” explained Kelly Blasko, a psychologist from the center, dubbed T2.

The site features tools for all stages of the deployment cycle -- from predeployment through reintegration.

To help prepare kids for an impending separation, the site includes an interactive map that offers information on numerous deployment locations. The aim here is to “give them positive information, rather than the negative information they hear on the phone or on the news,” Blasko said.

“We tried to focus on the fact they get increased responsibility at home [during a deployment], as well as new routines, because their parent is gone,” she said. “We developed activities around that.”

The post-deployment section deals heavily with the reconnection process upon the service member’s return, Blasko added.

While the sections share a common theme, site developers customized information and activities to best suit children’s age-specific needs. They created tracks for three different age groups: 6 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 17.

“We wanted to develop content around the different challenges that these kids face during the different phases of deployment,” Blasko explained.

Kids react to deployment-related stress in different ways, she noted. Teens may isolate more, act out, and may even get involved with drugs and alcohol. Tweens often rely on their parents for feedback and acknowledgement, and when a parent is absent, that can create a void. And younger children may regress due to anxiety, she added.

“The focus really is on the kids and providing them with coping skills for the different challenges they face,” she said.

Blasko said they came up with the idea for the site after noting a marked gap in resources for military kids dealing with deployments. T2 offers a deployment website called afterdeployment.org for troops, veterans and their families, with a module for parents helping children with deployments. But that wasn’t enough, she said.

“We realized that helping children with deployment was actually larger, and that particular module didn’t really address the issues that military children face,” she added.

Experts believed a site dedicated to aiding kids through the deployment cycle “would be an incredible contribution to help kids with this challenging time,” she said. To gain ideas from a military kid’s perspective, they hosted a series of focus groups with children 9 to 17 about what they’d like to see on the site.

“One of the things they felt was missing was an online military kids community,” Blasko said. “We developed an online social network forum where [teens and tweens] can post comments and get replies -- where they can share things about deployment.”

To further the dialogue, the site features videos with military kids and their parents discussing situations they’ve dealt with and the coping skills they’ve employed.

In one video story, a soldier talks with her three daughters about their feelings when she deployed to Afghanistan. They discussed how they felt when she left and their experiences while she was gone.

“I felt kind of sad at first,” one of her daughters said, “but I knew she was helping other people, so it kind of eased away my pain inside.”

Other popular add-ons include sections where students can create scrapbooks, participate in instructional and video vignettes, and in interactive games that wrap around the deployment cycle.

One of the site’s most-popular features is a section where kids can select the weather and time from among the six most common deployment locations. Once selected, the information always shows up on their home page. This enables the kids to feel a connection with a parent deployed, for example, to Afghanistan, Blasko noted.

As kids progress through the site, they can earn passport stamps in a virtual passport by completing games and activities.

While the site is geared for the younger generation, adults shouldn’t hesitate to log on, Blasko said. A parent module explains behavioral changes they should keep an eye out for and parenting strategies they can employ to help their kids through tough times.

The site also features a module for educators to raise awareness of military children’s challenges and to help educators recognize in-school behaviors that may indicate deployment-related anxiety.

Blasko acknowledged concerns regarding Internet safety for the online kids community. Developers kept this in mind throughout the process, she said, and have exceeded security requirements. For example, parents must give permission for children to use the message boards.

“We have been working really hard to provide a safe online community for these kids,” she said.

With the site’s first iteration under way, experts already are forging the path ahead. For the next version, they’d like to focus on three areas, Blasko said. First, they’d like to improve the online parent-child interaction, perhaps by having parents provide a stamp of acknowledgement when their child is on the site. They’re also hoping to engage deployed parents more by offering a game the deployed parent and child can play together.

Next, they’d like to focus on post-deployment, which is often the most difficult time of the deployment cycle, Blasko noted.

“So many changes occur during deployment for the kids and parents,” she explained. “When they come home, just getting back to the family routine gets very difficult and even more difficult if there’s been post-traumatic stress disorder or some type of problem that results from deployment.”

Finally, they’d like to enhance the site’s teen content. “We really think it is certainly an at-risk population, and [we want to] be sure we give them as many skills to deal with anxiety as possible,” she said.

Blasko said the project has been rewarding both professionally and personally. “I really admire military kids and the strength that they have given the different challenges they face,” she added. “It really is an honor to serve them some way through the website and connecting them with other kids, and parents.”

One of the nice things about the website, she noted, is that it teaches coping skills now. “They can carry that through their whole life and deal with things that come up that we can’t even anticipate,” she said.

Guard members participate in Army Warrior Games training at Ft. Bliss

By Sgt. Valerie Lopez
1st Armored Division

FORT BLISS, Texas (1/24/2012) “Inhale,¦exhale, the sound of breathing in a small quiet room, then a sudden pop, as the pellet is shot from an air rifle into the target in a room filled with Soldiers taking their chance at tryouts for the National Warrior Games competition.

Twenty five wounded Soldiers, including Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tracy J. Smith, gathered at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, to participate in the Warrior Games Shooting Training Camp, Jan. 11-14.

"This is our very first of three shooting clinics for selecting the 2012 Warrior Games Shooting team," said Army Master Sgt. Howard Day, an Army shooting coach for Warrior Transition Command and student at the United States Sergeants Major Academy. "We partnered with University of Texas El Paso, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Bliss, and Reps from Army Marksmanship in order to make this clinic happen."

The Warrior Games were created in 2010 as an introduction to Paralympics' sports for injured service members and veterans of all services – Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations. During this year's games, wounded service members and veterans will compete in seven sports: archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.

"This year's mission is to bring home the gold, from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.," Day said.

During the clinic, there were three stations set up – mental, physical and range practice.

In the mental station, Lindsay Holtz, a performance enhancement specialist, assisted warriors with creating imagery scripts to do mental practice when they don't have a weapon.

"It's like a movie script that you play in your head to that helps you keep your patterns, muscles and mind prepared for when you go back out there," Holtz said.

The physical station had UTEP woman's shooting coach George Brenzovich and team member Andrea Vautrin, exchanging ideas with the warriors on different ways to deal with anxieties and the pressures of competing. They also demonstrated alternate positions for shooting pertaining to each person's disabilities or weaknesses.

The third station was an indoor air shooting range at the ROTC building where the warriors practiced shooting and received instructions from Day, who was the coach.

Despite their circumstances these warriors all come together to compete, said Day.

One warrior, Army Spc. James Darlington, then 19, was deployed with the 82nd Airborne when his group was hit with two rocket propelled grenades in July 2010 and his arm was struck. With nerve damage and muscle loss in his right arm, Darlington, now 21 years old, has his mom with him as his non-medical attendant.

"He did his job well," said Gery Darlington, "because everyone came home from that deployment. He's here alive, and we can deal with whatever happens with his arm."

“The Warrior Transition Battalion has great programs to help Soldiers transition back to their units, and other activities to keep us from getting down," Darlington said. "The shooting clinic helped us get better at shooting. I'm looking forward to getting [on] the team."

The Soldiers' injuries here run the full scope, said Day, from Traumatic Brain Injury, to Post Traumatic Stress, and amputations. Many have multiple injuries and other medical conditions that challenge them as well.

Army Staff Sgt. Tracy J. Smith, originally with 48th Brigade, Army National Guard, was deployed three times to Iraq and Afghanistan, survived mortar rounds, explosions and firefights. Now she's battling with TBI and PTS, three pins in her knee and 50 percent hearing loss.

"I was initially introduced to adaptive sports, and wanted to stay active and physically fit so I did archery, seated shot put, track and field events, power lifting, and now marksmanship," Smith said.

She said because of the TBI and the PTS, she was at first nervous to handle a weapon, but after watching someone use the air rifle it was not as "off-putting" and was almost therapeutic.

"It's … a very easy reintroduction into the basics of Soldiering, but also very different from what we are taught in marksmanship," she said. "I am doing this for those that can't, for my battle buddy who is partly paralyzed and unable [to], because he would have if our situations were reversed."

Of the 83 Soldiers that applied, "seventy-five were notified eligible for these clinics," Day said. "From these clinics the best [shooters] will be put together to form our Army team."

As a wounded warrior himself, Day said it is vital for Soldiers to recognize that the injuries are not the end of their career and definitely not the end of possibilities in life.

"This is nothing but a speed bump, a simple turn in the road," said Day. "There is a big bright future and lots of opportunities."

Navy Reminds Sailors of Member-Designated Benefits

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy is reminding Sailors of several benefits and programs where members may designate beneficiaries of their choosing, as outlined in NAVADMIN 028/12, released Jan. 24.

Recipients for these benefits may include anyone designated by the service member, including a dependent, friend, significant other, fiancée or fiancé, co-worker, or a family member who is not a military dependent.

Sailors may designate any individual as beneficiary to a total of 15 benefits and programs, including:

-- Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI);
-- Post Vietnam-era Veteran's Educational Assistance Program (VEAP);
-- Basic Educational Assistance Death Benefit;
-- Death Gratuity Benefit;
-- Final Settlement of Accounts;
-- Wounded Warrior Act Designated Caregiver;
-- Thrift Savings Plan (TSP);
-- Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP);
-- Casualty Notification;
-- Escorts for Dependents of Deceased or Missing Members;
-- Designation of Persons Having Interest in Status of a Missing Member;
-- Veterans' Group Life Insurance (VGLI);
-- Person Eligible to Receive Effects (PERE) of Deceased Persons
-- Travel and Transportation Allowance for attendance at Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program events; and
-- Person Authorized To Direct Disposition (PADD) of the Remains of a Decedent.

NAVADMIN 028/12 explains how Sailors can update or verify beneficiaries for each of these benefits. The NAVADMIN also outlines conditions and limitations for appointing beneficiaries.

"I can think of few things more important for our Sailors than ensuring their loved ones are provided for in case of an emergency," said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk. "Ensuring this information is accurate and up-to-date is the responsibility of every Sailor."

A comprehensive listing of all benefits can be found in the Navy Pay and Benefits Guide, located online on the Navy Personnel Command webpage at http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/career/payandbenefits/pages/default2.aspx.

For more information on member-designated benefits, contact your local personnel office or visit NPC's website at npc.navy.mil.