30 September 2009

New Tools to Assist Military Families and Teens Through Difficult Transitions Launched Today by Partnership for a Drug-Free America

/PRNewswire-/ -- The Partnership for a Drug-Free America(R), together with the National Military Family Association and the National Association of School Nurses, today announced the launch of new online tools to assist military families and teens through difficult periods of transition, such as a deployment, major injury or illness of a parent, or when moving frequently to new neighborhoods and schools. The free tools are available at the Partnership Web site TimeToTalk.org/Military. The effort is the first collaboration between the three organizations to provide assistance with the complex, extraordinary circumstances often faced by military families, especially in wartime, when families are in particular need of this kind of help and support.

The new military family support tools were announced today at a press event sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). McCaskill has previously introduced the SUPPORT Substance Use Disorders Act which would make addiction treatment more readily available to members of the military and would provide privacy protections to those seeking help.

"I'm extremely pleased to support the launch of this important initiative," said Senator McCaskill, adding "Our servicemen and women need and deserve access to family support resources that are based on research and developed for their specific needs by experts such as the Partnership, the National Military Family Association and the National Association of School Nurses."

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the key risk periods for adolescent drug abuse are during major transitions - such as moving to a new school or community - and Partnership research shows that stress in school is a major reason for adolescent substance abuse. For military teens, transitions often become a way of life, as each year a third of military families move to new neighborhoods and almost half of military parents report that their kids have difficulty making social adjustments following a move to a new town. Many of these teens are also coping with the added stresses of having one or both parents deployed, or even worse, dealing with the difficulty of a parent who has been injured or killed in combat.

"While these are difficult, unsettling times for families across our nation, the added stress and rate of change faced by military families and their teens can sometimes push kids towards risky and dangerous behavior," said Steve Pasierb, President of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. "We are committed to working together with the National Military Family Association and the National Association of School Nurses, to help military families safeguard their children during times of transition and when they are more vulnerable to making unhealthy choices about alcohol and drugs."

The new resources available at TimeToTalk.org/Military include (1) Transitions and Teens: A Guide for Military Parents, (2) The Military Talk Kit, (3) 10 Things School Nurses Want You To Know and (4) 10 Things Military Teens Want You To Know. The research-based guide in particular provides critical information to reduce stress and help keep teens drug and alcohol-free during difficult transition periods. Included within this information is a helpful checklist for pairing teen transition scenarios with a list of recommended tips, providing parents with a 'roadmap' for starting and maintaining open conversations, answering tough questions and advice for monitoring the warning signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

Time To Talk(R) is the Partnership's movement designed to help parents and caregivers start and maintain open, honest dialogue with their children, helping them talk with their kids about the risks of drugs and alcohol. Partnership research has shown that teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs and alcohol than those who do not.

"We're extremely pleased to work with the Partnership as we make these critical tools available to military families and their teens who may be at risk," said Mary Scott, National Military Family Association Chairman of the Board. "While they've often shown resilience in the face of major change and adversity, should a military parent or family need extra help with the challenges of a transition, from keeping a checklist of tips to finding ways to stay actively involved in their teen's life through conversations, we're here to help."

"As school nurses, we're very familiar with the stress teens face with starting over in a new school in unfamiliar territory," said Amy Garcia, Executive Director of the National Association of School Nurses. "When you couple that with the uncertainty of a parent being deployed for an unspecified length of time, or living with the very intense reality of post-traumatic stress disorder, it's clear military teens face special circumstances that require special attention. We're pleased to collaborate with the Partnership and the National Military Family Association to provide the necessary tools to help make the transitions easier."

Time To Talk reaches parents and caregivers through the support and dedication of its corporate sponsors. A&E Television Networks, a Time To Talk sponsor, recently devoted an episode of its highly-rated television show "Intervention" to the struggles of three returning veterans to overcome addiction ("Addiction in Uniform") and are publicizing our new resources for military families to their millions of viewers.

Other 2009 Time To Talk sponsors include Consumer Healthcare Products Association, Comcast, The Hershey Company, King Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Major League Baseball Charities, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and Yahoo!

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28 September 2009

VA Staffs Office for Survivors of Vets, Service Members

/PRNewswire/ -- To strengthen the programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the survivors of the nation's Veterans and military personnel, the Department has staffed an office to serve as their advocate, with a charter that includes creating or modifying programs, benefits and services.

"Taking care of survivors is as essential as taking care of our Veterans and military personnel," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "By taking care of survivors, we are honoring a commitment made to our Veterans and military members."

The office serves as the primary advisor to the secretary on all issues affecting the survivors and dependents of deceased Veterans and service members. It will monitor VA's delivery of benefits to survivors, make appropriate referrals to VA offices for survivors seeking benefits and explore innovative ways of reaching survivors who are not receiving the VA benefits for which they are eligible.

VA benefits for eligible survivors include educational assistance, home loan guaranties, health care insurance and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, a monthly payment to the survivors of some people who die on active duty and some seriously disabled Veterans.

More than 554,000 spouses, dependents and other survivors of Veterans are receiving VA benefits. That figure includes nearly 5,000 spouses of World War I Veterans, 90 spouses and 94 children of Spanish-American War Veterans, and two children of Civil War Veterans. The establishment of this office was authorized in the Veterans Benefits Improvement Act of 2008.

24 September 2009

National Guard (in Federal Status) and Reserve Activated as of September 22, 2009

This week the Coast Guard announced an increase in activated reservists, while the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps announced a decrease. The net collective result is 947 fewer reservists activated than last week.

At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while
deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 110,016; Navy Reserve, 6,415; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 16,003; Marine Corps Reserve, 8,643; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 651. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 141,728, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are
currently activated may be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2009/d20090922ngr.pdf .
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USAF Logistics Center Receives Prestigious EPA Recognition for Use of Industry-Leading PreKote

/PRNewswire/ -- Robins Air Force Base (AFB) has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) program. This honor is presented to individuals and groups who have made exceptional contributions to the protection of human health and the environment.

The base received this acknowledgement for its success in eliminating chromate conversion coatings (CCC) in the pre-treatment of C-5 and C-130 aircraft painting operations. Robins initiated the change to reduce highly soluble, carcinogenic concentrations of hexavalent chromium. As a result of these efforts, the U.S. Air Force is now closer to branch-wide elimination of CCC in pre-treatment.

"The purpose of the EPA recognition is to encourage the development of new technologies and best practices that will help the environment," said Stan Meiburg, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "We commend Robins AFB for pushing forward changes that result in the responsible care for their surroundings."

The non-chromate technology, manufactured by Pantheon Enterprises and commercially sold under the brand name PreKote Surface Pretreatment, provides the base and other U.S. Air Force facilities with safer working environments and cost savings. For example, PreKote saves the government $12,000 when applied to each C-130 plane, achieving annual taxpayer savings of approximately $444,000. Additional Air Force facilities applying PreKote include bases in Utah, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas.

Hexavalent chromium is best known to the public as the toxic chemical that made Erin Brockovich a household name.

According to a 2009 memorandum from the Under Secretary of Defense, United States Department of Defense (DoD) agencies and defense contactors are being ordered to minimize the use of hexavalent chromium.

"Robins AFB is to be commended for facilitating this change long before this DoD memo was released," said Laura Roberts, CEO of Pantheon Enterprises. "We've found leaders within the Air Force who have become champions of environmental accountability by changing long-standing policies to enable the use of sustainable products, such as PreKote."

Pantheon's new, safe and effective technology, PreKote, is currently flying on over 2,000 U.S. Air Force aircraft. Several commercial air carriers also use PreKote, including Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines, UPS, American Eagle Airlines and Air Canada.

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22 September 2009

Request for Support of LtCol Jeff Chessani

Note: We at the Georgia Front Page have NOT researched this situation. If this is something that hits one of your hot buttons, please look into the issue. It's noteworthy that this group is representing LtCol Jeff Chessani pro bono. One of our staff has heard a bit about the situation and believes it is a travesty that Chessani is having to go through this... - MM

This is a Brave Marine
September 22, 2009
From: Richard Thompson, Thomas More Law Center

Dear Fellow Patriot,

He refused to throw his men under the bus to save his career. So the government intends to grind him up using their overwhelming resources.

He served three tours of duty in Iraq, including the Second Battle of Fallujah. He also served in Panama and in the First Persian Gulf War. He honorably served his country as a Marine officer for over 20 years.

His superiors considered him a superb leader, who demonstrated moral courage, with unlimited potential and value to the Marine Corps.

LtCol Jeffrey Chessani will face a Military Board of Inquiry (BOI) before year’s end to determine whether he should be demoted in rank as a result of the so-called “Haditha Massacre” – a massacre everyone now knows never happened. This will be the government’s last chance to punish him.

The bogus charges against LtCol Chessani were triggered by a fierce house-to-house, room-by-room combat action taken by four Marines after their convoy was ambushed by insurgents in Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. The rest later.

LtCol Chessani was first criminally charged with failing to accurately report and investigate that incident. Essentially, the government said he did not file the proper paperwork. Pretty lame!
With your help, and the help of thousands of patriotic Americans, we were able to defeat the prosecution at every stage of the criminal process.

But in a BOI, the government can ignore the rules of evidence. The Board can consider files without the benefit of a cross examination; they will consider the tainted record of the Article 32 Hearing; LtCol Chessani cannot subpoena witnesses; and the government need only prove misconduct by a preponderance of the evidence (50.1%) rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.
Should they succeed this time, it will not only be a tragedy for LtCol Chessani and his family, but for all our troops placed in harm’s way.

Your generous financial support can help end this personal tragedy and injustice to Jeffrey Chessani and his family... and insure the future of America’s fighting spirit.
Remember, your contributions are tax deductible.

Now, for the rest of the story . . . .

At great risk to themselves, the four Marines stormed the two houses used by the insurgents to fire on the convoy, and in the ensuing gun battles killed at least 9 insurgents and 15 civilians.
These Marines were members of LtCol Chessani’s battalion - the 3rd Battalion, (“The Thundering Third”) 1st Marines - one of the most decorated units in the Marine Corps.

In urban combat where terrorists purposefully use civilians as human shields, civilian casualties are a tragic and unfortunate, but not uncommon occurrence. LtCol Chessani immediately reported the deaths of the 15 civilian Iraqis to his superiors.

The Pentagon had his battlefront report within 24 hours.

Not one of Jeffrey Chessani’s superiors – including top generals – learning of the 15 civilian deaths considered it unusual. Not one of them suggested an investigation. In fact, his superiors commended him for a job well done.

But an inflammatory Time Magazine news lead, instigated by an insurgent propaganda operative, accused the four Marines of massacring innocent civilians.

The leading anti-war politician, Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha appeared on major television networks and stated there had been no firefight. He publicly accused the young enlisted Marines of “cold blooded” murder and Marine officers of a “cover-up.”

Political and media pressure caused the military to buckle. At least 65 fulltime investigators, the largest investigation in the history of the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Services) were assigned to conduct a year-long, multi-million dollar investigation focused on LtCol Jeffrey Chessani and his four enlisted men.

Every patriotic American should be concerned with the outcome of this case because it could drastically curtail the future ability of American soldiers to defend our Nation.

For twenty years Marine Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani has been defending our nation... often away from his wife and children... so that we could be safely with ours.

LtCol Chessani could be forced to retire and be demoted in rank, which could potentially cost his family hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits. For a man and family that dedicated their lives to the defense of our great nation – you and I cannot allow this to happen. It’s mind-boggling that our government is sparing no expense to exact a pound of flesh from one of the most effective combat officers in Iraq on trumped-up charges.

I am aware that these are hard economic times for many, but please consider the sacrifices that LtCol Chessani and his wife and children have made for each of us and our families, so that we may have peace at home. This is one of those times that you can show your gratitude. So please be as generous as you can.

LtCol Paul Ware, USMC, a judicial officer who heard testimony in several cases involving the November 19th Haditha incident, had this to say about the incident:

"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq. Even more dangerous is the potential that a Marine may hesitate at the critical moment when facing the enemy..."

Note the absurdity of it all... LtCol Chessani is charged with failing to accurately report and investigate a crime that the military now knows never happened.

With their false accusation, insurgents eliminated one of America’s most effective combat officers. They know...

“A nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”

Our representation of LtCol Chessani is without charge. But we need your financial support to carry on this fight.

Without our help, LtCol Chessani’s legal bills would already be astronomical — out of reach for a husband and father of six young children (the seventh on the way) surviving on military pay.
In preparing for the Board of Inquiry, TMLC lawyers will again examine thousands of pages of investigative reports and personally interview countless witnesses.

The Board of Inquiry will take place at Camp Pendleton, California. It could last several weeks. The Thomas More Law Center will bear the enormous costs associated with establishing a second office, paying hotels, and all the other expenses associated with two lawyers handling a case 2,000 miles away.

LtCol Chessani was in Iraq because his country sent him there. He willingly answered the call to serve his country in our defense. That's why he deserves the support of every patriotic American. Now is the time to show him our gratitude.

As tragic as these civilian deaths in Haditha were, it’s essential that we not shackle our combat commanders’ ability to make decisions by placing them in fear of criminal prosecution every time there are civilian casualties as a result of combat action.

LtCol Chessani has devoted his life to the defense of OUR country... NOW he needs OUR help.
I am counting on you to send the largest gift you can . . . and to rush it to me TODAY. Please click here to visit TMLC’s website to donate to this brave Marine’s cause NOW.

May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.

Richard Thompson, Esq.
President and Chief Counsel
Thomas More Law Center

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation."
-George Washington-

Please visit TMLC's website by clicking here to subscribe to News Alerts and read more details about LtCol Chessani's case.

19 September 2009

Game Time for Sledgehammer Soldiers

Players from the Atlanta Falcons took time to play video games against Soldiers representing the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and Soldiers currently deployed to Qatar and Afghanistan Sept. 15, at the Falcon's training facility in Flowery Branch, Ga.

The event was sponsored by Pro vs. G.I. Joe, a non-profit support organization, and the Uniformed Services Organization in an effort to provide a fun diversion for Soldiers.

“Its professional athletes and video games, what can be better than that?” said Greg Zinone, co-founder of Pro vs. G.I. Joe.

He said it is his way of giving something to the Soldiers that do so much to protect America, citing the organizations motto; doin' a little for those who do a lot.

The event included families of Soldier's currently deployed, who were able to video chat with their family members after the games were over.

“It is amazing what they can do with technology now,” said Pfc. Colin Wilbur, Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd HBCT, 3rd ID. “When we deploy, I hope we can do this again so I can play from Iraq.”

For the Falcon's players, the day was much more than video games.

“Anytime we, as professional athletes, can show our appreciation to the military, we jump at the chance,” said Atlanta Falcon's Brian Finneran.

Besides the player's autographs and Falcons merchandise, Soldiers had chances to win custom Pro vs. G.I. Joe Guitar Hero controllers.

“I know my guys had a lot of fun,” said Sgt. Lance Wail, Brigade Fire Support Sergeant, 3rd HBCT. “And that is really what it's all about.”

More photos: http://www.georgiafrontpage.com/military/09/9-19-09_sledgehammer.html

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18 September 2009

Army Bids Farewell to Maj. Gen. Yingling of Peachtree City

The Army bid an official farewell today to Maj. Gen. John A. Yingling in recognition of his 35 years of dedicated service.

His retirement ceremony was held here at the headquarters of the Army’s largest command, Army Forces Command, where he had been the deputy chief of staff G3/5/7 (equivalent to a large civilian corporation senior vice president for operations) since December 2007.

He and his wife, the former Ann Bradford of Wamego, Kan., plan to remain in Peachtree City.
A native of Alexandria, Va., Maj. Gen. Yingling began his Army career in 1974 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant of field artillery upon his graduation from the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Over the years he served in a variety of staff, field, joint and command assignments around the United States and in Germany and Korea.

His field and command assignments included deputy commanding general of First Army; assistant division commander (support) for the 2nd Infantry Division; commander of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) Artillery; commander of the 7th Battalion, 8th Field Artillery (Red Dragons), 25th Division; commander of C Battery, 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division; commander of A Battery, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery,1st Division; and firing platoon commander of the 3rd Battalion, 81st Field Artillery.

Yingling served as an operations officer with units within the 3rd and 9th Infantry Divisions. His staff assignments included chief of staff of the U.S. Army Reserve Command; director of fire support and combined army operations and chief of staff at Fort Sill, Okla.; I Corps officer personnel manager; Personnel Command's field artillery assignments officer, and aide-de-camp to the 1st Infantry Division's commanding general.

His joint assignments included duty as a staff officer in the Pentagon's National Military Command Systems and as commanding general of Joint Task Force Six, which provides Department of Defense counterdrug support to federal, regional, state and local law enforcement agencies.

The general's military education included the Field Artillery basic and advanced courses, Command and General Staff College, Armed Forces Staff College, and U.S. Army War College.
Yingling's awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Air Assault and Joint Staff Badges.

Photo top: Gen. Charles C. Campbell (left), commander of Army Forces Command, presents Maj. Gen. John A. Yingling with an American flag as part of Yingling's retirement ceremony Sept. 18. In his speech during the ceremony, Campbell thanked Yingling for his 35 years of service and told him that he left the Army “respected, admired, and valued as a comrade who always shouldered more that his fair share of the load.” (U.S. Army photo by Jessica Maxwell, FORSCOM Public Affairs)

Photo middle: Standing before the Army Forces Command color guard during his Sept. 18 retirement ceremony, Maj. Gen. John A. Yingling acknowledges college friends in attendance as the Army Ground Forces Band plays the Wake Forest University fight song. (U.S. Army photo by Jessica Maxwell, FORSCOM Public Affairs)

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The Defense of the Eastern and Southeastern United States is at Risk with new Missile Defense Plan

/PRNewswire/ -- Riki Ellison, President and Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) www.missiledefenseadvocacy.org details his thoughts on the new missile defense plan announced yesterday by the Department of Defense. His analysis and comments are as follows:

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made a historic announcement yesterday to rescind on previous agreements with the governments of the Czech Republic and Poland to host a missile defense system that would protect the United States and parts of Europe. This decision places the Eastern and Southeastern portions of the U.S. at risk from long-range ballistic missile threats by not protecting those regions as equally as the rest of the country is now currently protected with long-range missile defenses. No realistic solution or alternative was introduced by the President and the Secretary of Defense to replace the long-range protection to our country's Eastern and Southeastern regions provided by those international agreements that are now voided.

The "new missile defense architecture" proposed by the President and the Secretary of Defense relies on the current and future development of sea- and land-based Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) coupled with the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and the Patriot point defense system to defend our forward based troops as well as friends and allies in Europe and throughout the world. We support the President's "new missile defense architecture" for its mobility, adaptability, integration, volume, and cost sharing with our allies for protection of U.S. deployed forces and our allies from the growing present threat of short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

However, from a military perspective this "new missile defense architecture" cannot defend the U.S. Homeland from a long-range ballistic missiles; it also cannot defend the two primary missile defense and early warning radars in Fylingdales, England and Thule, Greenland from long-range ballistic missiles. Today, the only system that has proven results to intercept long-range ballistic missiles is the currently deployed Ground Based Interceptors (GBI).

The SM-3 is specifically designed, developed and tested to intercept short- to medium-range missiles not the much faster and higher altitude long-range ballistic missiles. These SM-3 missiles technically cannot intercept long-range missiles in a real world live engagement and there is no validation or proof of concept that indicates otherwise.

Secretary Gates has requested the Congress to deploy 30 GBIs in Alaska and California to provide the U.S. Homeland protection from North Korea and Iran. Because of the extreme distance from Alaska, where all but 3 of the GBIs are deployed, and the distances from California to the Eastern Seaboard and the Southeastern U.S., particularly Florida, "high confidence" and equal protection cannot be attained without the deployment of an additional missile defense site closer to Iran then the current two sites are. The United States has invested tens of billions of dollars over the last seven years to provide an operational long-range missile defense system that provides "high confidence" from current U.S. Combat Commanders as it allows multiple shots from missile defense sites located in Alaska and California to intercept and destroy long-range ballistic missiles. This deployed system is fully operational and has defended our homeland from North Korea earlier this year.

The White House has declared that they expect the new missile defense architecture to be fully operational in 2020. Can those who live in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of our country wait 11 years when they know that they have already paid for a currently deployed system that is fully protecting "with high confidence" all the other parts of our country?

We need a solution and a realistic proven alternative whether that be in Fort Drum, New York, Grand Forks, North Dakota, or someplace else that can provide long-range ballistic protection of the Eastern and Southeastern regions of our country so that our homeland is equally protected.

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10 September 2009

Two Georgia Marine Casualties; Operation Enduring Freedom

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of three Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

The following Marines died Sept. 8 while supporting combat operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan:

Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Ga.

1st Lt. Michael E. Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Va.

Staff Sgt. Aaron M. Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Ga.

Gunnery Sgt. Johnson and Staff Sgt. Kenefick were assigned to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

1st Lt. Johnson was assigned to 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.

The American Legion Appeals to Congress for Compassionate Treatment of Women Veterans

/PRNewswire/ -- In his first address before Congress, the newly elected leader of The American Legion has called upon lawmakers to "compassionately address" the needs of women veterans.

National Commander Clarence E. Hill, testifying before a joint session of the U.S. House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, urged lawmakers to acknowledge that service women deployed to today's theaters of war are, in fact, serving in combat zones.

"The demographic of the American veteran is changing," Hill said. "We now have a much more diverse veterans' population than in past generations. This diversity includes a growing and significant number of women veterans who sacrifice no less than their male counterparts. In this war without a front there are no safe areas. As such, women who historically were not severely wounded in previous conflicts are returning home with limbs missing, terribly burned, or blinded."

Hill, who began his one-year term as head of the nation's largest veterans service organization just two weeks, added that closer daily contact between male and female service members has "unfortunately led to military sexual trauma issues which must be addressed compassionately."

He also noted that the change in the military's makeup will require the meeting of new fiscal and logistical challenges in the service of those coming home. "Timely access to quality health care, the new G.I. Bill, and other veterans' benefit programs must adjust and adapt to the needs of this 'newest generation' of wartime veterans. Hundreds of thousands of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) veterans are now using their VA health care benefits, increasing the workload of a health care system that was overburdened before the war began," Hill said. " It is a sacred and time honored obligation of The American Legion to make sure those veterans have the services they need and timely access to the care they have earned and deserve."

The Legion commander's testimony was presented to members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, chaired by Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., and the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, chaired by Senator Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, this morning. The forty page Legion presentation contained proposals for the Department of Veterans Affairs Fiscal Year 2011 budget and applauded Filner for his proposal to require Medicare to reimburse VA for the treatment of eligible veterans' injuries, illnesses and conditions. The Legion also urged Congress to take measures to increase access to veterans health care, especially in rural areas, to redouble efforts to address the issues of an aging veteran population as well as veterans suffering the effects of Gulf War illness, traumatic brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and exposure to toxic substances such as Agent Orange.

The enormous backlog of unprocessed and partially processed veterans' claims was also noted in the Legion presentation with potential solutions advanced. Suggestions were also made to improve and make more equitable the terms of the newly enacted Post 9/11 GI Bill that is now providing educational benefits to new military veterans.

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09 September 2009

National Guard (In Federal Status) and Reserve Activated as of September 8, 2009

This week the Navy and Coast Guard announced an increase in activated reservists, while the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps announced a decrease. The net collective result is 271 fewer reservists activated than last week.

At any given time, services may activate some units and individuals while deactivating others, making it possible for these figures to either increase or decrease. The total number currently on active duty from the Army National Guard and Army Reserve is 111,710; Navy Reserve, 6,528; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, 15,740; Marine Corps Reserve, 8,676; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 646. This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel who have been activated to 143,300, including both units and individual augmentees.

A cumulative roster of all National Guard and Reserve personnel who are currently activated may be found at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2009/d20090908ngr.pdf .

Going Beyond the Book Answer

There are all sorts of things that I memorized for my promotion board. I can tell you everything from the muzzle velocity of the M-4 rifle to how many gallons of water a lister bag can hold. I can recite the noncommissioned officer and Soldier’s creeds, even if five very intense pairs of eyes are staring at me. Using a combination of the on-line Army study guide, various field and training manuals and the knowledge of the non-commissioned officers that help prepare for my board, I have accumulated quite a bit of information. Information that will, hopefully, make me a better leader in the future.

During my preparation, the non-commissioned officers that helped prepare me for the board would quiz me on these subjects. Almost all of them would ask me a question and wait for my answer. Nine times out of ten, I would give them the answer I memorized out of the study guide.
Most would accept my answer, but would ask another question in response. It would normally go, “That is the book answer, but what does that mean? Explain it to me like I was your Soldier.”

I had always known that being an NCO was more than enforcing rules, but that question helped me understand it better. Most Soldiers will do anything they are ordered to do. I am of the opinion that they normally perform that task better if they understand the purpose behind it.
Army leadership, as I learned it for my promotion board, is the ability to influence others by providing purpose, direction and motivation in order to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.

Many leaders make the mistake of providing direction and neglect to encourage the motivation. Some could care less about their Soldier’s motivation as long as the mission is accomplished.

A good NCO is capable of showing his or her Soldiers how their task, no matter how small it may seem, is important and necessary. I think all Soldiers want to feel like they aren’t wasting their time. Working for the sake of keeping busy doesn’t help anyone. It ruins morale, creates Soldiers who look for ways to avoid work and makes the Soldiers who don’t shirk their duty angry at the ones who do.

The best NCOs I’ve worked with found a way to make sure that I understood the purpose behind what I was doing. A lot of those jobs and details weren’t fun, but I understood the consequences to the organization if they were ignored.

The book answer will give Soldiers the correct information on how to do things, but it can’t give them the little tips and tricks that come from experience. I’m talking about the best way to lace your boots before a ruck march or how to close a duffle that is filled to the brim. Most NCOs don’t understand how much knowledge they have accumulated until they get new Soldiers; new Soldiers that don’t have the knowledge experienced NCOs take for granted.

In my opinion, a poor NCO rolls his eyes and makes that new Soldier feel inadequate when they ask questions that come easy to him. A good NCO shares his knowledge and then ensures that the Soldier has learned it. There is nothing wrong with an NCO showing a Soldier a task and then undoing it and asking him to perform what he just saw. Lessons like that are invaluable.
There isn’t an Army regulation that will tell you how to reach each and every Soldier. As an NCO, I hope I am able to remember that every Soldier reacts to situations differently. What is effective in reaching one Soldier may intimidate and hinder the job performance of another.

In my experience, senior leaders rarely ask “book” questions or give missions that fall in neatly with every Army regulation. On my last deployment, my brigade was doing things that were considered “outside the box” and were tackling unique problems that we couldn’t have anticipated. It wasn’t that we were throwing the book out the window; we simply had to write our own chapters and come up with our own answers.

As an NCO, I think that is what it all boils down to: coming up with answers. Naturally, some things are set in stone. Some things are just right or wrong. It doesn’t take a leader to simply do what every Soldier should be doing.

I believe good leaders use their experience and knowledge to figure out the correct answer when it isn’t spelled out in black and white. They try to understand the situation before casually throwing out an order and scrambling to correct a mistake that could have been prevented with more thought. A good leader listens to his subordinates and uses their knowledge base to add to his own. A good leader realizes that in the end, whether the answer comes “from the book” or from the hip is unimportant. The only thing that matters is if it is correct.

by Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd HBCT Public Affairs

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08 September 2009

TRICARE Standard Pays to be Preventive

Obtaining clinical preventive services helps prevent illness before major health problems occur. Section 711 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009 encourages eligible TRICARE Standard beneficiaries to use preventive health services by waiving all cost shares for certain types of these services starting Sept. 1. These services include screenings for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer and prostate cancer; immunizations; and well-child visits for children under 6 years of age.

Also, for all beneficiaries over age 6, when a visit to a health care provider includes one or more of the benefits listed above, the cost share for the visit is waived. However, other services provided during the same visit are subject to cost shares and deductibles.

“Early disease detection and chronic condition management programs result in the prevention of long term health conditions and add savings for beneficiaries and the government in the long term,” said Navy Rear Adm. Christine S. Hunter, deputy director of the TRICARE Management Activity. “It’s a great new benefit under TRICARE Standard.”

The cost share waiver applies to non-Medicare eligible, TRICARE Standard or Extra beneficiaries; even if the beneficiary hasn’t met the annual deductible. Beneficiaries enrolled in TRICARE Prime are unaffected, since they do not have copayments for preventive services.

Medicare-eligible beneficiaries are covered by TRICARE For Life (TFL), which generally pays the remainder of any costs not paid under Medicare, including amounts for the listed preventive services. However, preventive services and all immunizations not covered by Medicare require TRICARE Standard cost shares and deductibles for TFL beneficiaries.

Criteria such as age, frequency of care and family history have to be met in order to waive cost shares for the six clinical preventive services. All other preventive services not included in the services listed in Section 711 are subject to cost shares and deductibles. This benefit can be applied to any services received on or after Oct. 14, 2008. Beneficiaries can request reimbursement for services received after Oct. 14, 2008, and before the implementation date of Sept. 1, 2009.

Reimbursement requests can be made by phone or in writing to the region where the beneficiary lives.
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06 September 2009

Gates Objects to News Photo of Dying Marine

9/4/09 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates used the strongest terms in trying to persuade the Associated Press to refrain from running a graphic picture of a Marine taken shortly after the servicemember was wounded in southern Afghanistan, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said here today.

Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard later died on the operating table Aug. 14.

The Marine's family in New Portland, Maine, asked the Associated Press not to run the photo, which was taken by Julie Jacobson, who was embedded with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

The AP put out a series of photographs of the Marine patrol, and Gates objected to one showing Bernard clearly in anguish while being treated. He had just been hit in the legs by a rocket-propelled grenade.

When Gates heard the AP was going to send the photo to its subscribers, he called Thomas Curley, president and chief executive officer of the news service, asking him to pull the photo, Morrell said.

Morrell quoted the secretary as saying to Curley, "I'm begging you to defer to the wishes of the family. This will cause them great pain."

Curley told the secretary he would reconvene his editorial team to re-examine the release.

The secretary followed his call with a letter to AP. "I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family," the secretary wrote. "Why your organization would purposefully defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency."

Curley got back to Morrell later yesterday afternoon and said his crew had "seriously considered the secretary's concerns and the families concerns ... but ultimately decided that they wanted to proceed with pushing out this image to their clients," Morrell said.

Morrell said Gates was extremely disappointed that the Associated Press did not adhere to the wishes of the family. The vast majority of news outlets did not run the photo, he added.

- American Forces Press Service

Help and prayers needed for local soldier and family

Fayette County, Georgia: Daniel Berschinski, First Lieutenant and Platoon Leader in the First Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment Fifth Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in the U.S. Army, was seriously wounded August 17, 2009, while serving our country in Afghanistan. Lt. Berschinski is currently recuperating from numerous injuries at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington , D.C.

Daniel graduated from McIntosh High School in 2002 and from West Point in 2007. He is an Eagle Scout from Peachtree City 's Troop 175. The Berschinski family has lived in Peachtree City for 17 years. Rob, his older brother, is a civilian working in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. His parents, Bob and Susan, are local business owners. Many of you may remember Susan as a Booth Middle School teacher.

Please join us in showing the Berschinski family how much we appreciate their being a vital part of this community and that we are here to love and support them today and in the future.

Gifts can be in the form of cash, check or charge. Please address all gifts to the Benefit of Daniel M. Berschinski. You can directly deposit your gifts at any Bank of Upson, Meriweather Bank and Trust or at SouthCrest Bank in Tyrone at -on Highway 74 across from the South Hampton Publix shopping center. If you would like to mail your gift, please mail it to: 105 St. Stephens Court, Suite A, Tyrone, GA 30290.

Any funds not utilized by the Berschinski Family will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

- rec'd via the Southern Crescent Tea Party Patriots (www.ptcteapartypatriots.org)

Note: On a personal note, I've known Bob and Susan for many, many years. They have given much to the community and to many individuals. My heart goes out to them as they hurt with their child and work to do everything they can to help him heal. I encourage everyone reading this to reach out to help in some manner based on your familiarity with the Berschinski family, your belief in helping a neighbor, or your concern for our soldiers. - Janet McGregor Dunn

04 September 2009

World War II Veterans Ready to Fly

September 19th will be like Christmas morning for approximately 70 veterans of the “Greatest Generation” as they gather at the First United Methodist Church in Fayetteville for breakfast and to board buses for Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. They are also provided with lanyards and Honor Flight Fayette t-shirts to wear during the day, which is totally free of cost to them. This is just the first step in a day long journey dedicated as a “thank you” gesture to them for their valiant service during World War II.

As the buses get under way, they will be escorted by Patriot Guard members as well as law enforcement officers from Fayetteville, Fayette County and Peachtree City. The public is encouraged to line the streets by 6:30 a.m. that Saturday morning with flags and banners to give the veterans a spirited sendoff.

After a short flight to D.C., they will land at Ronald Reagan Airport where they are greeted by military personnel from different branches of the service who have requested the day off specifically to be with and assist guardians with the veterans. The veterans will then board motor coaches for their comfort during the day. Although the World War II Memorial is the main feature, they will ride by the memorials for Iwo Jima, the Korean War, Viet Nam and Arlington National Cemetery. Time permitting, stops will be made at these locations also.

The veterans’ visit to “their” memorial is always one of mixed emotions, and very often tears can be seen in their eyes as well as those of the guardians who are there to help them through the day. Sometimes they share stories as they walk around the memorial, and sometimes they just reflect in silence because memories are too poignant or too painful.

After they return from these trips to D.C., veterans have often said that it was the most wonderful day of their lives, second only to marriage or the birth of children. However, the guardians who accompany them, and pay their way to do so, will tell you it was one of the most special days of their lives also.

Honor Flight Fayette is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which is staffed totally by dedicated volunteers whose only purpose is to honor and say “thank you” to the brave veterans of World War II. If you would like to learn more about Honor Flight Fayette, become a volunteer or make a donation, please check honorflightfayette.org or P. O. Box 1209, Fayetteville, GA, 30214.

Photo: Brenda Smith, Publicity Chair for Honor Flight Fayette, stands beside the banner which is a reminder of the upcoming flight on September 19th!

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03 September 2009

Air Force Unveils New Fitness Program

Approval of the new Air Force fitness instruction in the coming weeks will bring about some of the most significant changes to the Air Force fitness program in the last five years.

Those changes, which take effect Jan. 1, 2010, shift a greater responsibility of maintaining physical fitness 365 days a year to all Airmen.

In June, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz announced changes to the service's fitness program following an audit that identified inconsistencies in fitness testing that failed to create a culture of fitness required to meet the warfighting demands on today's Airmen.
"I take fitness seriously, and so should you," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy. "The new Air Force fitness test is coming soon and will incorporate significant changes aimed at creating a continuous culture of fitness."

Chief Master Sgt. Mark Long, the Air Force's enlisted promotions, evaluations and physical fitness chief, also underscored the importance of fitness in maintaining that combat capability while at the same time advising that Airmen shouldn't wait until the new year to begin preparing for the changes.

"The culture of fitness that began with earlier endeavors intended to prepare Airmen to be 'fit to fight' established a sound foundation to build upon," Chief Long said. "We've come a long way in the last five years, only now it's time to incorporate changes that will bring about not only increased fitness, but greater clarity and understanding for both commanders and Airmen."

Some of the significant changes outlined in the new Air Force Instruction 10-248, Fitness Program, include the testing frequency, establishment of fitness assessment cells to proctor tests and increased emphasis on the aerobic component in scoring. The instruction is expected to be signed and approved by the Air Force chief of staff in the coming weeks.

Until then, Airmen can learn more about some of those changes on the horizon and view the approved fitness charts and other valuable fitness related information at the Air Force fitness program Web site.

by Daniel Elkins Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

Isakson, Chambliss, Gingrey: Dobbins Clears Final Hurdle for Military Commissary

Facility Would Serve Thousands of Military Personnel, Veterans in Metro Atlanta

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., today announced that Dobbins Air Reserve Base has received approval from the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to build a military commissary on the base.

Isakson, Chambliss and Gingrey have been working for more than a year to try to ensure a seamless transition between the closure of existing commissaries serving metro Atlanta and construction of the new commissary.

“This is fantastic news for Dobbins as well as for the thousands of military personnel and veterans in the metro Atlanta area,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I’m extremely pleased the Department of Defense has given final approval of the commissary at Dobbins and I will now work with my colleagues to ensure Dobbins receives the necessary funding for the commissary.”

“This approval is welcome news for the thousands of military personnel, their families, and veterans in the metro Atlanta area and it has been a long time coming. This was the final step in a five step process of getting the application for the commissary approved. I applaud the Department of Defense for recognizing that those men and women who have served our country so honorably should not be left without convenient access to these critical facilities. I look forward to continuing to work to make this become a reality,” said Gingrey.

"This new commissary will provide a much-needed service for our military men and women in the Atlanta area,” said Chambliss, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure Dobbins receives the funding to move forward with this project."

On March 31, the Commissary Operating Board of the Defense Commissary Agency agreed to recommend approval of a commissary at Dobbins Air Reserve Base to the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, who ultimately made the final decision on the facility.

Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson in Atlanta, as well as the Naval Supply School in Athens, are scheduled to close in 2011. At that time, Fort Benning, which is located two hours southwest of Atlanta, will be the closest commissary serving the metro Atlanta military population.

Isakson, Chambliss and Gingrey believe it is critical to maintain a convenient commissary for the metro Atlanta military community, and Dobbins Air Reserve Base meets all the requirements outlined by the Department of Defense to build and maintain a commissary.
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01 September 2009

EPA Approves Army's Closure of Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System

/PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) officials announced today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accepted the Army's closure of its former Johnston Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System (JACADS). In a letter dated Aug. 18, 2009, EPA Region IX official John Beach wrote that "EPA finds that the Army has fulfilled the requirements of its JACADS Permit," and that the EPA, "accepts the Army's closure of the facility as a clean closure."

CMA Director Conrad F. Whyne said, "The official closing of JACADS has been a thorough and meticulous process. As a program, we have benefited from the lessons learned from working with the EPA." Mr. Whyne noted, "This is our first RCRA permitted lethal agent incineration facility to close and I offer my heartiest congratulations and a 'job well done' to the men and women of the JACADS team and our EPA partners. They have made the chemical weapons of Johnston Atoll history; they have made the world a safer place."

JACADS, the Army's first full-scale chemical weapons destruction facility, safely completed its mission of weapons destruction in 2000, facility demolition in 2003 and the last Army employees left Johnston Atoll by the end of 2003. This mission was accomplished while protecting the workers and the remote atoll's delicate environment.

Located on an atoll 800 miles southwest of Hawaii, JACADS represented a major milestone in CMA's history. During a 14-year period, more than four million pounds of nerve agents, GB and VX, as well as blister agent HD, were safely destroyed and the disposal facility was dismantled. Chemical agents contained in 412,798 munitions, including projectiles, rockets, bombs, and ton containers, were eliminated, reducing the overall U.S. stockpile by six percent.

The Army worked with the EPA to close the facility according to environmental standards. Closure activities involved cleaning and removing all hazardous wastes, equipment and systems used for disposal operations. Analyses were performed in all related areas to ensure that the Army met the EPA's stringent criteria.

CMA has completed destruction of the chemical weapons at Newport, Ind., Aberdeen, Md. and Johnston Island. Final chemical agent destruction operations are under way at CMA's four remaining destruction sites: Anniston, Ala., Pine Bluff, Ark., Umatilla, Ore., and Tooele, Utah. CMA's destruction sites should complete operations in time to meet the 2012 Chemical Weapons Convention treaty deadline. CMA continues to safely store chemical agent munitions near Richmond, Ky., and at Pueblo, Colo. For more information about CMA, visit http://www.cma.army.mil/ .

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