Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Hero’s Hero: Recognizing Signs of Trouble

In the life of a service member, family support is crucial.  The loved ones at home who offer comfort and encouragement in the midst of a sometimes chaotic military experience are vital to a service member’s well-being. But there’s another family in the life of a service member that is intimately acquainted with the rigors associated with military service.

The military family is the one in which comrades stand shoulder-to-shoulder in operations and combat.  It is the family that shares up-close-and-personal daily challenges and it’s also the one that strives to honor the mantra to never leave a fallen service member.

Hope is always antithetical to despair. And as our brother’s keeper, recognizing the indicators that may signal trouble for a fellow service member can literally mean the difference between life and death.

The Centers for Disease Control has published a list of risk factors which will help service members recognize potential signs of danger.

• Family history of suicide
 • Previous suicide attempt(s)
 • History of alcohol and substance abuse
 • Feelings of hopelessness
 • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
 • Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
 • Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
 • Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
 • Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts

Visit for additional information and resources.

NAVFAC Seabee Divers Rescue Capsized Boater off San Nicolas Island

By Mason Lowery, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

SAN NICOLAS ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command Engineering Service Center (NAVFAC ESC) Seabee divers rescued a capsized boater who had been drifting in the ocean for five hours Friday, Sept. 14.

Local boater Ivan Jureczky, 60, clung to the keel and straddled the hull of his 15-foot capsized sailboat Friday afternoon, praying for rescue and losing hope 10 miles offshore between Point Mugu and San Nicolas Island. Five hours passed as he drifted further out to sea, fighting waves, hypothermia and exhaustion.

Jureczky's fate was almost left to ocean currents, but as the sun sank lower and lower on the horizon and visibility waned, a team of Seabee divers were returning from an annual maintenance mission just off the island aboard the Diane G, a Naval Air Systems Command contract vessel based out of Port Hueneme.

Trevor Rowe, captain of the Diane G, spotted what he thought was an odd looking piece of debris floating 1,000 yards off the ship's bow. He diverted course for inspection and the crew and passengers sprang into action 200 yards from the debris when they realized it was a capsized boater.

Three of the NAVFAC ESC Seabee divers launched their 19-foot inflatable boat from the Diane G and rescued Jureczky.

Once aboard, the Seabee divers, who are trained in first aid, immediately treated Jureczky for mild hypothermia.

"It is my professional opinion that if the [captain] had not noticed the overturned vessel, Mr. Jureczky would have not survived the night," said Senior Chief Eric M. Eaton, NAVFAC ESC Dive Locker command master diver. "He had no operable radio, no distress equipment or lights and was dressed in jeans and a light jacket. He had overturned near Channel Islands Harbor and drifted for what he estimated was five hours. He was picked up at dusk in Sea State 2 and there were no civilian boats operating in the immediate area and he was far outside the regular sea lanes. He was not expected home until later in the evening and so was not even noticed as missing yet."

The average water temperature where Jureczky was rescued is 62 degrees, according Lt. Sean Arumae, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach. The air temperature on Friday was about 80 degrees, but dropped to 65 after sunset. In those conditions, according to the Coast Guard's probability and serviceability decision aide, a person matching Jureczky's body type would suffer loss of functionality due to hypothermia after approximately nine hours, and suffer cardiac arrest after 12-14 hours.

"Had those Seabee divers not come upon him, we would have been looking for a person in the water, not a drifting vessel," Arumae explained.

Jureczky was overcome with gratitude to the Seabee divers and crew of the Diane G following his rescue.

"My family and I are so grateful to you for very likely saving my life," said Jureczky. "Your unparalleled professionalism and positive attitude saved the day for many people."

The Seabee divers assigned to the NAVFAC ESC Dive Locker are specialized Navy divers. Their specialization includes providing small boat and diving operations, planning and support for projects and tests, as well as underwater construction equipment procurement support and acceptance testing.

Their mission offshore of San Nicolas Island Friday was to replace the island's fuel hose and inspect its moorings. In order for the island to receive fuel, large barges must connect to the hoses that are a 1/4 mile offshore and pump the fuel to the supply tanks for the island.

The divers disconnect the hose from the riser (underwater connecting point) and a crane pulls the hose up on the barge and sends down a new hose for the divers to connect. They also take measurements and do minor repairs on the four buoys around the hose for barges to moor to when they offload fuel.

Absentee ballots available online for overseas military, state voters

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Wisconsin's military and permanent overseas voters can request absentee ballots online beginning today (Sept. 20).

Using grant money from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) launched the voter services website My Vote WI on Sept. 17 that allows military and permanent overseas voters to download the appropriate ballot for their jurisdiction in time for the 2012 general election. The online tool is designed to make it easier for both municipal clerks and military and permanent overseas voters to submit and process absentee ballot requests, and to transmit absentee ballots between clerks and voters.

"Until now, our Wisconsin Soldiers serving abroad had to contact their local clerk's office to get their absentee ballots," said Kevin Kennedy, director and general counsel of the GAB. "The new My Vote WI website expedites ballot delivery, and helps ensure that their votes will be counted."

Currently, municipal clerks issue absentee ballots to overseas voters by mail, fax or e-mail. Clerks will continue to use these delivery channels if requested by the voter, but can ask if the voter would prefer a ballot through the online tool. The GAB will issue absentee ballots requested through My Vote WI on behalf of the appropriate clerk - the online ballots will not contain the clerk's initials. Instead, My Voter WI will print a mailing ID number on the absentee certificate that prints with the absentee ballot. The voter must complete the certificate envelope in order for the ballot to be counted.

Each absentee ballot My Vote WI issues will be automatically tracked in the Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) by its mailing ID. Clerks will be notified by e-mail when voters have accessed their absentee ballot online; the notification will include the voter's mailing ID. The notifications will be sent out nightly. Clerks will also receive My Vote WI summaries for their municipality, including new online voter registrations, new online absentee applications, downloaded absentee ballots, updated voter records, and spoiled absentee ballots.

Clerks can opt out of having the GAB issue absentee ballots on their behalf, but then must take additional steps to document the status of the request as well as the absentee ballot.
My Vote WI will help Wisconsin comply with the terms of a federal court consent decree resulting from a small number of municipal clerks who did not transmit absentee ballots by federal deadlines for the 2010 and 2012 federal elections, deemed a violation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE).

Overseas residents must be registered to vote before receiving an absentee ballot. Completed absentee ballots shipped by the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked no later than election day (Nov. 6, 2012) and received by the municipal clerk no later than 4 p.m. on the Friday after the election (Nov. 9). Other delivery methods must deliver completed absentee ballots to the municipal clerk no later than 8 p.m. on election day. State law prohibits voters who cast an absentee ballot from also voting at the polling place for the same election.

Military and overseas voters with questions about the absentee voting process may e-mail the GAB or call 1-608-261-2028, or toll-free 1-866-VOTE-WIS.

Carter Urges Stepped-up Progress on Cyber Defense

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – Even as the Defense Department increases investments in cyber capabilities, officials are working to reduce vulnerabilities in their own networks and in those of contractors who build sensitive defense systems, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said today.

Speaking at the Air Force Association’s Annual Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Maryland, Carter said DOD’s cyber concerns are threefold.

“Two of [these parts] we can get our hands on, including by managerial moves within the department, and a third … is harder to get our hands on,” the deputy secretary said.

The first is DOD’s defense of its own networks, he said, noting that task is “technically very challenging.”

It’s paramount that DOD maintains security and integrity across its cyber networks, Carter said, because “we depend on them … today in everything we do.”

The second part involves developing cyber weapons as weapons of war, he said, “doing the intelligence preparation of the battlefield for their employment and planning for their employment. Again, that’s something we can do within our own walls and are doing.”

The third part is protecting the nation at large from cyberattack, he added, a job that’s harder because DOD plays only a role in a larger cast.

The scope of DOD’s responsibility for domestic cyber defense extends to the dependence of DOD installations and bases on the U.S. cyber infrastructure, and on the use of DOD data and plans by contractors who build the department’s sensitive systems.

“First of all, other parts of the government have capabilities and responsibilities and we work with them. But the most important thing is that most of those networks are … owned and controlled by private entities who typically fail to invest, or underinvest, in their security,” the deputy secretary said.

“When we offer to assist them in protecting [the networks], we run up against barriers that we’re slowly trying to knock down and reason our way through,” he added.

Such barriers could include antitrust issues if the department provides information to a particular business, he said.

“Do we have to provide the same information to company B? Can company A provide information to company B or does that violate the antitrust laws?” Carter said. “Can company A provide information back to the United States or is that providing personal information to the government that is on their networks?”

He questioned whether DOD should require private industry to control and strengthen its cyber networks, or whether that would be considered excessive government regulation.

“These are all tough problems,” he said.

When it comes to dealing with issues of safeguarding the nation as a whole from cyberattack, “we’re working our way through all these issues, and my own view is [we’re doing it] way too slowly,” Carter said.

The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which called for minimum cyber security performance standards for critical infrastructure that the U.S. government would help develop with private industry, fell short of passage during an Aug. 8 Senate vote.

“We were hoping for some legislative relief this summer that we didn’t get out of the Congress,” Carter said.

Meanwhile, he said, the Defense Department is considering making U.S. Cyber Command, an armed forces subunified command subordinate to U.S. Strategic Command and led by Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, a separate combatant command.

“We are looking at a separate Cyber Command … and that may be something to do in the future,” Carter said. “But that by itself is not by any means the whole of everything that we need to do in cyber.”