Housing recovery funds available
Military DoD civilians who face financial losses due to the current housing downturn can find relief in the ARRA influx of funds to the Housing Assistance Program (HAP).
Active members, former members, and survivors of those who have died on deployment of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as DoD civilians, who have sold a primary residence for a loss, or are considering selling their home, may qualify for funds.
The Recovery Act appropriated $555 million in funds to the HAP, which DoD will use to temporarily expand this program in order to partially reimburse eligible members. applications.
To speak with a HAP representative, call (916) 557-6850 or 1-800-811-5532.
April is Month of the Military Child
DOD salutes military children by Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2014 – The Defense Department believes military children serve their country alongside their service member parents, DOD’s director of the office of family policy/children and youth said.
When military children serve, they do so by making sacrifices when parents are deployed, through frequent moves, starting new schools and making new friends on a continuing basis, Barbara Thompson said in a recent interview with The Pentagon Channel for the Month of the Military Child that’s being celebrated in April.
“We feel it’s important for the nation to know that military children also serve their country,” Thompson said.
To honor military children for their sacrifices and service, DOD and the services have planned activities this month that range from installation-based fairs, parades, and literacy and art events, she said.
Military Kids Day, April 15, marks the third-annual “Purple Up!” day when adults wear purple to show support of children from all the services, Thompson said.
DOD has numerous year-round programs and awareness efforts to honor military children, and Thompson elaborated on some of those initiatives.
To help children build their resilience, DOD has coordinated programs with Sesame Street to help with ongoing change in military children’s lives, Thompson noted.
“Sesame [Street] has been an outstanding contributor to the well-being of military children,” she said, naming a series of DVDs that cover such topics for military children as divorce, grief, separation and deployment, resilience skills, and visible or invisible injuries.
Sesame Street also recently launched two new smartphone applications.
“One [app] covers relocation, and another is to help children learn self-regulation skills so they become more resilient,” Thompson said. “And everything is free.”
Thompson emphasized that April also is Child Abuse Prevention Month and said awareness in this arena is important to DOD.
“Child Abuse Prevention Month is particularly important because it’s a social responsibility for all of us to make sure children are safe and their well-being is protected,” she said. “Everybody has a responsibility.”
Giving parents the tools to make them strong supporters of their children and to keep them safe from predators and from violence within the family is crucial, she added.
“Parenting is tough, regardless of the situation and the age of the child. They each bring their nuances to the table, whether it’s children at [age] 2 who say ‘no,’ or a teenager who’s sometimes a little defiant,” she said.
DOD offers parenting skill resources, Thompson noted, such as the newly launched Parenting Course. The course, she explained, examines parenting from the context of the military lifestyle, which revolves around deployments and parental separations from their children at different stages of their development.
And an installation-based initiative, the new Parent Support Program, involves home visitation for new parents of children up to age 3, “to help parents reach their full potential working with and being responsible for their children,” Thompson said. The Marine Corps’ program supports parents with children up to age 5, she added.
“The New Parent Support Program is a part of the Family Advocacy Program, which has a prevention piece that offers courses and opportunities for support groups. We want to make sure we address the stressors in families’ lives before they escalate,” Thompson said.
“Sometimes [certain] things really push our buttons,” she added. “So we need to have the tools, to know how to cope with those kinds of stressors and how we react to them.”
USS Wayne E. Meyer departs for Western Pacific deployment 3/20/2014
From Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) departed Naval Base San Diego March 20 on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific Ocean.
Wayne E. Meyer has a crew of nearly 300 officers and enlisted Sailors and is a multi-mission ship designed to operate independently or with an associated strike group. While deployed, the ship will conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations.
"USS Wayne E. Meyer and her crew have spent the last year and a half preparing for this upcoming deployment, and we are excited to be headed to the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility," said Cmdr. Randy J. Van Rossum, Wayne E. Meyer's commanding officer. "We are ready to execute the missions required of us."
Wayne E. Meyer is named after the late Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer, who is regarded as the "Father of Aegis," for his service as the Aegis Weapons System manager and later his development of the Aegis Shipbuilding Project Office. This will be the ship's second deployment since it was commissioned Oct. 10, 2009, in Philadelphia.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.
ANACORTES, Wash. (Mar. 29, 2014) Carol Armstrong, ship's sponsor for the Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) research vessel (R/V) Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27), breaks a bottle across bow during a christening ceremony at Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. shipyard in Anacortes, Wash. Joining Armstrong on the platform are Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, left, chief of naval research, Mr. Dick Nelson, president, Dakota Creek Industries, Inc., and Kali Armstrong, granddaughter of the late astronaut. The Navy, through the Office of Naval Research (ONR), has been a leader in building and providing large ships for the nation's academic research fleet since World War II. U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams.
R/V Neil Armstrong: One small step will mean giant leap for Navy's tesearch gleet 3/30/2014
by Eric Beidel, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder joined family members of the late Neil Armstrong March 29 to christen the Navy's newest research ship, named for the legendary astronaut and first man to walk on the moon.
The lead Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) ship in its class, the research vessel (R/V) Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) began construction in 2012 and will be delivered to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in January 2015 to continue studies in the Atlantic, western Pacific and Indian ocean regions.
"I can't think of a better name to go on the side of a ship designed for exploration and discovery," Klunder said. "R/V Neil Armstrong will play a pivotal role in teaching the Navy about the ocean so we can more effectively plan our operations around the world."
The Navy, through the Office of Naval Research (ONR), has been a leader in building and providing large ships for the nation's academic research fleet since World War II. The newest addition to the fleet, R/V Neil Armstrong will replace R/V Knorr (AGOR 15), which will be retired at the end of the year after nearly half a century of service.
R/V Knorr was launched during the same decade as President Kennedy's vow to put a man on the moon and the famed Apollo 11 mission that fulfilled that vision. It is best known for carrying researchers on the 1985 expedition that resulted in discovery of the Titanic. In all, R/V Knorr has traveled more than a million miles-about the same distance as two trips to the moon and back.
"Now the R/V Neil Armstrong will provide a continuum of exploration for the next 50 years," said Carol Armstrong, the astronaut's widow and sponsor of the ship.
The new ship is 238 feet long and equipped with the latest technologies, including a high-efficiency diesel engine, emission control for stack gasses, information technology tools for monitoring shipboard systems and communicating with the world, and hull coatings that should result in fewer maintenance issues. It will operate with a crew of 20 with accommodations for 24 scientists who will use the ship and its assets to collect samples and data from both coastal and deep ocean areas.
In addition to officials from ONR, the christening at the Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. shipyard in Anacortes, Wash., was attended by the oceanographer of the Navy and representatives from the secretary of the Navy's office. Kali Armstrong, the late astronaut's granddaughter, was maid of honor.
Navy decommissions USS Miami 3/28/2014
by Lt. Timothy Hawkins, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs
KITTERY, Maine (NNS) -- The Navy formally decommissioned Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755), March 28, during an indoor ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
Past and present crew members, their families and other invited guests attended the event.
"Admiral, the watch is secured," reported Miami's skipper Cmdr. Rolf Spelker to Submarine Group 2 commander Rear Adm. Ken Perry, marking the end of the ship's nearly 24-year journey.
"Every once in a while a ship earns a waterfront reputation as a 'hot boat.' Miami earned that reputation early and kept it going," said Perry, the guest speaker. "Miami's journey has been unprecedented and unique, and today we show our gratitude and pride."
Miami was commissioned June 30, 1990 as the Navy's 44th Los Angeles-class submarine and the fifth ship of the "improved" 688-class. She was built with an improved sonar and weapon control system, 12 vertical launch system tubes, and full under-ice capability - embodying the most modern design and construction of her time.
During more than a dozen deployments over the past two decades, Miami fully employed her capabilities while operating in maritime regions near North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Miami was America's first nuclear-powered submarine to transit the Suez Canal, an honor earned during her second deployment in 1994.
In the late 1990s, Miami launched Tomahawk cruise missile strikes during Operation Desert Fox in Iraq and Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. She earned the nickname "Big Gun" after becoming the first submarine since World War II to fire ordnance during combat operations in two different theaters.
Miami is currently undergoing an inactivation process the Navy announced last fall. Her crew of 111 officers and enlisted personnel will all be reassigned to other units by December.
Sixty-two Los Angeles-class attack submarines were constructed from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s. Forty-one are presently in active service.
NORFOLK (March 20, 2014) An E-2D Hawkeye assigned to the Tiger Tails of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 flies over Naval Station Norfolk. VAW-125 provides airborne early warning and command and control to Carrier Air Wing 1 and is assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Ernest R. Scott
Navy's most advanced command and control aircraft joins the fleet 3/27/2014
by MC2 Ernest R. Scott, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye officially became ready for tasking with Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125) during a ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field, March 27.
"This is a revolutionary jump in capabilities," said Capt. Todd Watkins, commander, Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing. "The E-2D serves as the eyes of the fleet. If it's out there, we will see it."
The "Tigertails" of VAW-125 are the first Navy squadron to become fully operational with the Advanced Hawkeye, the newest, most technologically capable variant of the venerable E-2 airborne early warning command and control platform.
The E-2D is expected to be instrumental to how the Navy will conduct battle management command and control. Able to sweep ahead of the strike, the E-2D can manage the mission and keep carrier battle groups out of harm's way.
"We were very excited to be the first squadron to receive the [Advanced] Hawkeye," said Lt. James Beaty, a naval flight officer who has worked extensively with the E-2D. "It's been a challenge, but I've enjoyed learning everything this aircraft is capable of."
The E-2D's advanced technology makes it a multi-mission platform through its ability to coordinate concurrent missions which may arise during a single flight. These missions can include airborne strike, ground force support, rescue operations and managing a reliable communications network capable of supporting drug interdiction operations.
"I laid down the challenge to learn this new platform and defend the fleet," said Capt. William Ewald, commander, Carrier Air Wing 1. "Today, the "Tigertails" are ready for tasking and I can assure you, they will succeed."
DoD strives for balance between military lifestyle, readiness 3/27/2014
From Terri Moon Cronk, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Defense Department must slow compensation and benefits growth to balance military lifestyle with readiness and modernization, DoD's top personnel specialist testified on Capitol Hill March 26.
Jessica L. Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the House Armed Services Committee's military personnel subcommittee that DoD's vision for balance is reflected in its recommendations for pay and benefits in the department's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.
Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel; Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Cox, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services; Navy Vice Adm. William F. Moran, chief of naval personnel and deputy chief of naval operations, manpower, personnel, training and education; and Sheryl E. Murray, the Marine Corps' assistant deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, also testified at the hearing.
Service members' lifestyles are good, Wright said, and the budget proposal seeks to slow the rate of growth in compensation.
"And that's why we're asking for a 1 percent [military pay raise], as opposed to a higher percentage, so we can slow that growth of a military member's pay, and also be able to bolster their readiness and bolster [the] force and bolster their modernization," she added.
"Our going-in proposition is to provide benefits to the service member and the family, but also to keep them trained and well-equipped so they can do their jobs," she said.
Paraphrasing Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Wright said, "Instead of doing a Band-Aid approach ... we wanted to go in with a holistic package [for] what we would like to do for compensation and benefits, so we can take that balance and use it for readiness."
NHRC team begins sleep screen study using wearable 'smart shirt' technology 3/26/2014
by Anna Hancock, Naval Health Research Center Public Affairs Officer
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Researchers and neuroscientists from Naval Health Research Center headquarters San Diego began a sleep screen pilot study using a smart textile shirt, March 20, hoping to identify a cost-efficient, objective tool that can improve the health and readiness of active duty service members.
According to the Military Health Service, the most common complaints shared by service members returning from deployment are about the quantity and quality of their sleep. If the smart textile shirt proves to be an effective data collection tool, the team believes this technology may improve access and reliability of sleep diagnostic services, expedite sleep health treatment, and ultimately improve readiness.
"Sleep apnea is very common and the most likely use for this technology. This is something that only a bed partner could guess about, or the textile could pick up," explained Dr. Diane Williams, acting Warfighter Department Head and research psychologist. "This could revolutionize the ease of collecting accurate sleep data in a large number of people very inexpensively. It could also get service members to treatment in time to prevent cognitive impairment."
The team works with volunteer, active duty participants from one of the eight local military bases. The service members wear the smart textile device, which is similar to an athletic shirt, and spend the night in the sleep lab. Data is collected via undetectable sensors that are embedded within the shirt's fabric. The data are then stored and will be analyzed at the end of the pilot study. This is notably different from polysomnography tests where there is a minimum of 22 wires attached to the patient. Because of the increased comfort, the smart textile shirt should provide data more indicative of the patient's normal sleep.
"Polysomnography tests are what people typically think of when they hear sleep studies - when you go to a clinic or hospital and stay overnight while connected to an array of electrodes on the head and body," explained Dr. Gena Glickman, a research scientist with NHRC. "Although these types of sleep studies are currently the most informative way of examining sleep, two challenges are that they're costly, and there is always the question of whether or not the person is sleeping as they typically would in their home."
Experts agree, however, that in-house sleep studies are one of two clinical gold standards of practice for evaluating sleep. The second is actigraphy, which utilizes a wristwatch-like device that tracks sleep patterns. Throughout the pilot, the NHRC team will be comparing the smart textile shirt to polysomnography and actigraphy, and if the results of the smart textile shirt are consistent with the gold standards, the team will develop an algorithm for detecting sleep irregularities.
"It's ironic in this culture that sleep is viewed to be a nuisance, that it gets in the way of performing their duties," Glickman continued. "But if you sleep well, your cognitive performance or cardiovascular health, for example, will improve. Basically, with optimal sleep, job performance is likely to be better. And it's not just the quantity, or how long one sleeps, but more importantly, the quality of sleep that we want to measure and help improve."
The team understands the importance of optimizing performance for the service member. NHRC has five different studies of sleep underway that characterize sleep in military members at various career stages and identify strategies for enhancing sleep health, countermeasures for sleep disturbance, and ultimately, to optimize performance.
Glickman acknowledged that the smart textile shirt will not likely replace standard polysomnography, but the hope is that the tool will enable large scale sleep health screens and efficiently identify individuals who require overnight sleep studies. The sleep screen pilot is expected to be complete by September 2014.
"If we can find a tool that collects accurate data and that can be used in the home, whether it's this textile or another tool, we will be able to identify sleep problems earlier and therefore, begin treatment sooner," noted Glickman. "This may enable us to help service members sooner and in a more cost effective way."
As the DoD's premier medical research center, NHRC's cutting-edge research and development is used to optimize the operational health and readiness of the nations armed forces. Within close proximity to more than 95,000 uniformed service members, world-class universities, and industry partners, NHRC's expert team sets the standards in joint ventures, innovation, and practical application.
Peleliu receives back-to-back Battle 'E' 3/25/2014
by MCSN Michael Duran, USS Peleliu Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) was named the recipient of the 2013 Battle Effectiveness (Battle E) Award for Commander, Amphibious Squadron Three, March 20, marking the second consecutive year Peleliu has earned the prestigious award.
Peleliu competed with other ships within its Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and was selected for its exemplary performance in an operational environment as well as its distinguished achievement during certifications and qualifications conducted throughout the year.
"It feels great," said Peleliu Command Master Chief TyRon Flynn. "Obtaining the Battle E is a cumulative process over a number of different warfare areas in terms of sustainment and readiness, and we broke out amongst the other ships in the ARG."
The Battle E is awarded to the ship within a command that demonstrates the highest level of sustained superior performance and battle readiness.
"I'm extremely proud of the crew and extremely proud of the accomplishment of winning a Battle E," said Flynn. "It's a significant accomplishment and not something that comes easy, especially for those on their first or second tour. Be thankful that you received one, remember what you did to earn it, and do it again."
In addition to the Battle E, Peleliu also won the Red 'E' for Engineering/Survivability Excellence and the Blue 'E' for Logistics Management Excellence. This marks the 11th consecutive year Peleliu's Supply department has taken home the award for logistics excellence.
"We try to manage our storerooms the best that we can and we're going to continue to do just that," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Jimmy Vo, leading petty officer of the ship's supply department's stock control division. "We have good Sailors and junior Sailors and everything that went into this award came from them."
Achieving the Battle E requires teamwork and represents the combined effort of all Peleliu personnel during 2013 and who are now authorized to wear the Battle E ribbon and insignia.
The Peleliu ARG is comprised of Peleliu, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).
Peleliu is currently conducting sea trials after a seven-month maintenance availability period in preparation for a future deployment.
Navy accepts delivery of USNS Millinocket 3/24/2014
From Team Ships Public Affairs
MOBILE, Ala. (NNS) -- The Navy accepted delivery of the third joint high speed vessel, USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3), from Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., March 21.
Delivery marks the official transfer of the vessel from the shipbuilder to the Navy and is a major milestone in the ship's transition to operational status.
"Today, the Navy received a tremendous resource," said Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager Capt. Henry Stevens, "Millinocket's speed, agility and cargo capabilities will be an asset to operations around the world."
Millinocket, the third ship of the JHSV class is commercially designed, with modifications made to suit military needs. The ship will transport troops, equipment, and supplies to littoral offload points over operational distances. She is designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.
"The JHSV ship class - including USNS Millinocket - will play an important part in the future of our joint forces in terms of affordability, flexibility, speed and agility," said Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander, Military Sealift Command (MSC).
JHSV 3 is equipped with a flight deck and an off-load ramp which allow for vehicles and helicopters to quickly access ports and quays. Littoral operations and port access are further enhanced by the ship's 15-foot shallow draft, ability to interface with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and ease of access to austere and deteriorated piers. This makes JHSV an extremely flexible asset, capable of supporting a wide range of operations including non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
USNS Millinocket will be owned and operated by MSC and will be manned by a crew of 22 civil service mariners.
As one of the Defense Department's largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Delivering high-quality war fighting assets - while balancing affordability and capability - is key to supporting the Navy's maritime strategy.
ICE CAMP NAUTILUS (March 19, 2014) U.S. Navy Ice Camp Nautilus during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2014. The camp is located on a sheet of ice adrift on the Arctic Ocean. ICEX 2014 is a U.S. Navy exercise highlighting submarine capabilities in an arctic environment. U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Joshua Davies.
Navy terminates Ice Camp 3/24/2014
From Commander, Submarine Forces Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) announced an early end to Ice Camp Nautilus on March 23. The ice camp was a temporary structure built and operated especially for Ice Exercise 2014 (ICEX-2014).
Personnel at Ice Camp Nautilus, which is built into the ice floe north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, began a careful breakdown of the camp Sunday.
ICEX-2014 began March 17 and was scheduled to continue through March 30. However, large shifts in wind direction created instabilities in the wind-driven ice floes of the Arctic Ocean, and these changes in the prevailing winds between March 18th and March 20th led to multiple fractures in the ice near the camp. These cracks prevented the use of several airfields used for transporting personnel and equipment to the ice camp. The rapidly changing conditions of the ice, along with extremely low temperatures and poor visibility hampered helicopter operations and made sustaining the runway potentially risky.
The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 767) will continue to gather data and conduct ice-related exercises until they transit out from under the ice.
Submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic regions in support of inter-fleet transit, training, cooperative allied engagements and operations for more than 50 years. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) made the first submerged transit to the North Pole in 1958. USS Skate (SSN 578) was the first U.S. submarine to surface through arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since those events, the U.S. Submarine Force has completed more than 120 Arctic exercises with the last being conducted in 2012. The last ice camp was established in 2011. Since 1987, most of these have been conducted in conjunction with Royal Navy submarines.
CSG-11 holds change of command ceremony 3/24/2014
From Nimitz Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs
EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11 held a change of command ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) March 24 at the ship's homeport of Everett, Wash.
Rear Adm. Dee Mewbourne succeeded Rear Adm. Michael S. White, who departed CSG-11 to become the 18th commander of the Naval Education and Training Command.