Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day: Not Just Another 3-Day Weekend

By Navy CAPT Paul S. Hammer, DCoE

Last month I was reminded of the vital role resilience plays in our lives and just how important a slight variation in perspective or attitude can be. DCoE was asked to offer some resources on different ways families can cope with deployments that would be used as a part of a larger media article. This type of media query was not new by any means, but the more I learned about the story the more it struck a chord with me.

The article was about a unique display of resilience and one way a Navy spouse was helping her and her family cope with her husband’s 13-month deployment. She had recognized that of all the normal daily routines that would continue over the next year without her husband, dinnertime would be the most difficult. The empty chair at the dinner table would be a constant reminder of his absence. Instead of “facing the empty chair at dinnertime” she decided to invite someone new to dinner once a week to “sit in his place.”

As Memorial Day approaches, I find myself thinking of the numerous empty chairs in our country, particularly those that will never be filled again by their rightful occupant. I am reminded of the countless “empty chairs” across the country once filled by our fallen service members that will never again be sitting in their chair at the dinner table and the families, friends and loved ones who face those empty chairs. The grief and loss of their families, friends and loved ones will fade with time, but their memories will continue and the “empty chair” for that family will always be there.

I tend to get a little cranky when I see people thinking of Memorial Day only as the start of summer, an occasion for a big car sale, or the latest department store blowout. It is a solemn occasion to come together as a country and pause to pay attention to the numerous “empty chairs” that have affected our nation’s families over time. We need to call to mind the memory and honor the sacrifices of those who lost their lives protecting our nation and we need to stand with and support those they’ve left behind.

So, with this blog post I ask that you do something. As you read this, pause and set a reminder for 3 p.m. May 28. At your barbecue, at the mall or while you are pondering the new car, stop and take part in the National Moment of Remembrance. Pause for a moment of silence, wherever you are or whatever you might be doing to remember the men and women who sat in those empty chairs.

A moment of genuine commemoration this Memorial Day will help ensure that the memories of our fallen will be shared and carried forward by future generations. Let’s carry out the intent of the day to, “remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation.”

USS Miami Crew, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Combat Fire Aboard Submarine

By Submarine Group Two

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Statement from Rear Admiral Rick Breckenridge, Commander, of Submarine Group Two in Groton, Connecticut:

"Late yesterday afternoon, USS MIAMI experienced a fire in the submarine's forward compartment.

"Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Fire Department and Ship's force, along with mutual assistance from several other area fire departments, immediately responded and successfully extinguished the fire on USS MIAMI. I repeat, the fire is out.

"The fire and subsequent damage was limited to the forward compartment spaces only which includes crew living and command and control spaces. The nuclear propulsion spaces were physically isolated from the Forward Compartment early during initial response.

"The ship's reactor has been shut down for over 2 months and remained in a safe and stable condition throughout the event. The propulsion spaces remained habitable and were continuously manned through the night.

"There were no weapons on board in the torpedo room.
The fire spread to spaces within the submarine that were difficult to access. The heat and smoke contained in these confined spaces made it challenging for fire-fighters to combat the blaze.

"I want to emphasize that the heroic actions of the firefighting teams averted what could have been a much more severe situation. As a result of their quick and effective response, the fire was contained and brought under control.

"We greatly appreciate the strong support received from our state and local partners who assisted us throughout this event.

"All of USS MIAMI's crew and the personnel supporting work and recovery efforts on the submarine are accounted for.

"Seven people were injured during the fire-fighting response. However, their injuries were minor in nature. The injured personnel included three Portsmouth Naval Shipyard fire-fighters; two ships force crew members; and two civilian fire-fighters providing support. These personnel were either treated on-scene or transported to a local medical facility for further treatment and all have been released. So all injured personnel have been released and are in good shape. There were no casualties in this fire.

"Again, the response of the shipyard and the community fire-fighters has been exceptional. Their efforts clearly minimized the severity of the event. They immediately took actions to stabilize the situation, protect the public, and limit the impact to the environment.

"So we are now moving forward with recovery actions.
The shipyard remains open for normal business and the workforce will report to work as scheduled.
A full investigation has begun to determine the cause of the fire. We will continue to provide updates later today as more information becomes available.
For now I need to get back to my responsibilities in the command center."

Guard, Reserve Leaders Discuss Budget Issues

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2012 – The military’s reserve components remain ready and capable despite budget cuts and their transition from a strategic to operational force, senior National Guard and Reserve officials told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee here yesterday.

As the drawdown continues in Afghanistan, the Guard and Reserve will maintain deployment-ready units undeterred by force structure changes such as the Air National Guard’s end strength reduction by 5,100 billets and aircraft inventory reduction by 134 aircraft, Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, National Guard Bureau chief, told the senators.

For example, McKinley said, the Air National Guard’s partnership with more than 60 foreign countries has strengthened the component’s military capacity and competence.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, Air National Guard director, said 22 partner nations have provided 11,000 troops to Afghanistan, and 40 partner nations have provided more than 31,000 personnel in support of U.N. peacekeeping operations. Last year, Guard airmen filled about 54,000 requests for manpower, he added, noting that 91 percent of those requests were fulfilled with volunteers.

Wyatt said the Air National Guard’s budget request priorities were to align force size and composition to be flexible, agile and ready with a focus on new missions, such as the MC-12 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft. He added that other high priorities included maintaining a combat-ready force able to quickly surge and integrate seamlessly in joint operations while rearranging units impacted by the base closure and realignment process and recent programming changes.

Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., Army National Guard director, said the Army National Guard provides cost-effective solutions to meet budget requirements. For 12.3 percent of the Army's base budget, he said, the Army National Guard provides 39 percent of the Army's operating forces. In 2011, he told the panel, citizen-soldiers provided 900,000 duty days of support to communities across the nation.

“We are attracting skilled soldiers and future leaders,” he said. “With the nation at war as a backdrop, our year-to-date enlistment rate for [fiscal 2012] is in excess of 95 percent, but our retention rate exceeds 130 percent. So we are meeting our authorized end strength of 358,000.”

Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink, Navy Reserve chief, said reserve sailors provide full- and part-time operational capabilities and strategic depth for maritime missions, ensuring rapid global response to crisis situations while maintaining fiscal efficiency across the spectrum of operations.

“The Reserve C-40A Program is enabling our critical intratheater lift capability today to be more cost-effective and flexible, and thus more operationally relevant well into the future,” he said. “Our 2012 budget request will enable the Navy Reserve to continue supporting current operations while maximizing the strategic value of the Navy Reserve, a force valued for its readiness, innovation, agility and accessibility.”

Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, commander of Marine Forces Reserve, said that as the active-component Marine Corps reshapes from 201,000 Marines to a force of about 182,100, the Marine Corps Reserve will leverage its diverse depth and range to mitigate risk and maximize opportunities.

“I am highly confident that the authorized Marine Corps [Reserve] end strength of 39,600 is appropriate for providing us with the personnel required to support the total force during active component build-down,” he said.

The Air Force Reserve, however, may face personnel challenges, with a projected reduction of 900 personnel that Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., Air Force Reserve chief, described as the “tip of the iceberg.”

“Our Reserve is losing trained personnel and taking on new missions,” he said. “The personnel losses are in specialties that are still essential to the total force and at the same time don't easily transfer to newly assigned mission areas.”

Stenner noted that an aircraft maintainer with 17 years of experience cannot become a cyber warrior with 17 years of experience overnight. “With that perspective, the Air Force is actually losing the capability of 5,000 to 6,000 experienced and trained personnel, and that loss could seriously affect the strategic reserve posture,” he told the senators.

Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, Army Reserve chief, said the quality of his citizen-soldiers gives him confidence for the force’s future. He told the panel about Sgt. Daniel Burgess, who lost his leg and suffered severe wounds to the rest of his body from a roadside bomb explosion while attached to a Marine Corps unit in southern Afghanistan. Burgess insisted on remaining in the military and is rehabilitating at the Warrior Training Brigade at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“That epitomizes why we're here; we're here because of them,” Stultz said. “We've got to make sure we're doing everything within our power in an era where we are looking to save money and reduce debt, but we cannot afford to shortchange these great soldiers, because they are protecting our nation, and they're our first line of defense.”

McKinley told the senators the reserve components have evolved from being a strategic reserve to an operational force over the last decade of war, and that should be the way of the future.

“During a time of constrained budgets, we should continue to be used as an operational force to ensure the nation is getting the most defense capability at the lowest cost,” McKinley said, adding that more than 50 percent of Guardsmen have combat experience.

Military and Police Books of the Year

Between the three websites, more than 2,500 American Heroes and their books are listed.

May 23, 2011, (San Dimas, CA) American Heroes Press, the publishers of, and, announced the results of their annual recognition.

Military Book of the Year:

9/11 Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes: NYC - The First Battle in the War Against Terror!

Police Book of the Year:

John Raven Beau

The 2011 Book of the Year
Colonel Will G. Merrill Jr., “a native of Ashland, Wisconsin, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with the Class of 1958. He served overseas for eleven years in Germany, Vietnam, Korea and Greece. He retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Colonel in 1989. He is a graduate of the Artillery Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Ranger Course, the Army Airborne Course, the Armed Forces Staff College and the DOD Language School courses in Spanish and Greek. He has also earned a Master’s Degree in Business from Webster College. After completing his military service he became Vice President of a nationwide Home Inspection Service and later Vice President of a Wireless Communications Company.

His personal decorations include the Department of Defense Superior Service Award, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Four Meritorious Service Medals, Army Commendation Medal and Vietnamese Honor Medal.”  Colonel Will G. Merrill Jr. is the author of 9/11 Ordinary People: Extraordinary Heroes: NYC - The First Battle in the War Against Terror!

The Book of the Year 2011
In 1970, O’Neil De Noux was “drafted into the U.S. Army for service in Vietnam. While awaiting shipment to Southeast Asia, angry at being a second-generation to serve in Vietnam, De Noux was shocked when his shipment was cancelled as the gradual reduction in forces began. From California’s Fort MacArthur, De Noux was stationed at the U.S. Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, AL. His army MOS was Photographer: Combat Still. De Noux took run-of-the-mill army pictures while expressing himself creatively with black-and-white still-life photos, winning several Best Photo Awards.

From 1977 to 1980, O’Neil De Noux was a uniformed patrol officer for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the most rewarding working experience of his life. When promoted to the Homicide Division, De Noux found his calling and finally discovered what he should write about. An exceptional career as a homicide detective followed in which De Noux solved every murder where he was lead investigator (fifteen) and assisted in over fifty other homicide investigations. In 1980 De Noux completed the Homicide Investigation curriculum at The Southern Police Institute of the University of Louisville.

Earning seven commendations, O’Neil De Noux was named Homicide Detective of the Year in 1981. Shortly after, he was transferred from Homicide, banished to a quiet police district when a new sheriff was elected. Offered a lucrative position as chief investigator at a private investigative firm, De Noux worked as a P.I. for the next six years.”

After his home was seriously damaged by Hurricane Katrina, O’Neil De Noux re-settled on the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in 2006 and returned to law enforcement.  He is currently a Detective-Sergeant with the Louisiana Department of Public Safety working with the Southeastern Louisiana University Police Department in Hammond, LA.  O’Neil De Noux is the author of John Raven Beau.

About the Websites is a website that lists servicemembers from all branches of the United States Armed Forces who have authored books.  Currently, the site lists 1301 servicemembers and their more than 4000 books. Servicemembers are listed by name, branch, rank and type of book. is a website that lists state and local law enforcement officials who have written books.  Currently, the website lists 1153 state or local police officers and their more than 2,300 books.  Law enforcement officials are listed by name, department and type of book.  Additionally, the website has separate sections which list federal law enforcement officials, international police officers and civilian police personnel.

American Heroes Press Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Experts Answer Questions on Post-Deployment Health Resources via Facebook

By Sarah Heynen, DCoE Strategic Communications

Most service members experience normal reactions to the stressors of war. These are adaptive behaviors, which generally decrease, even cease, when service members return home. However, when these reactions interfere with a person’s ability to return to “the way things were,” it is appropriate to seek psychological health care. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) and Military Pathways are joining forces to host an online event on Facebook 3-4 p.m. (EDT) May 30, 2012 to answer questions and provide resources on common post-deployment psychological health challenges – and information on where to get help.

To get involved visit the event page and click “join.” Log on at 3 p.m. (EDT) May 30 and write your question directly on the event page wall. Questions will be answered as they are submitted. If you will not be available to ask your question during the live event, ask early! All questions will be answered during or after the live event.

This online opportunity allows for service members, veterans, military families and providers to ask questions regardless of location or time of day. Leading military organizations that specialize in mental health will be ready to answer questions and provide valuable resources to address common psychological health challenges that arise upon reintegration including but not limited to depression, anxiety, substance misuse, etc.

Worried about yourself or loved one who recently returned? Military Pathways offers free anonymous assessments online. The DCoE Outreach Center is also available 24/7 to answer your questions via phone at 866-966-1020, email at or online chat at