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Monthly Archives: January 2011

A little known tidbit of naval history

USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)

A little known tidbit of naval history

Ships



The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers). 

July 27th, 1798: 
However, let it be noted that according to her ship's log, "On July 27th, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum". 

Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping". 

October 6th, 1798: 
Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. 

November 12th, 1798: 
Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there November 12th. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. 

November 18th, 1798: 
On November 18th, she set sail for England. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each. 

January 26th, 1799:
By January 26th, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home. 

February 20th, 1799: 
The USS Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whiskey, and 38,600 gallons of water. 

GO NAVY!

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Saluting Your Loyalty in 2011!
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Disabled American Veterans

VA’s National Cemeteries Lead Nation

VA's National Cemeteries Lead Nation in Satisfaction Survey
Ranking Tops Federal Agencies, Private Firms

WASHINGTON (Jan. 25, 2011) – For the fourth consecutive time in ten
years, the system of national cemeteries operated by the Department of
Veterans Affairs has bested the nation's top corporations and other
federal agencies in a prestigious, independent survey of customer
satisfaction.

"This survey is testament to the outstanding service that employees at
VA's 131 national cemeteries provide to our nation's Veterans and their
families," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki  "It is
VA's privilege to care for our nation's heroes in perpetuity, using the
highest standards of professionalism and compassion."

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is the only national,
cross-industry measure of satisfaction with the quality of goods and
services available in the United States.  Beginning in 1999, the federal
government selected ACSI to measure citizen satisfaction.

Citing VA's consistently record-setting ASCI scores, the independent
Federal Consulting Group saluted VA's "commitment to outstanding
customer service to . . . Veterans' next of kin, as demonstrated by
achieving an extraordinarily high ASCI score."

More than 100 federal agencies have used ACSI to gauge consumer
satisfaction with more than 200 services and programs.  The Index was
founded at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and the
survey is produced by ACSI, LLC.

VA's National Cemetery Administration participates in the ACSI every
three years, previously in 2001, 2004 and 2007.  This is the fourth time
it participated and the fourth consecutive time it received the top
rating in the nation.  For 2010, the National Cemetery Administration
achieved a customer satisfaction index of 94.  Its score is nearly 29
points above the average for federal government agencies, which was 65
in the study.

The ACSI survey polled the next-of-kin or other people who had arranged
for the interment of a loved one in a VA national cemetery within the
previous six months to one year.  More than 1,900 people received the
survey and 444 responded, a high response rate for a mail survey.

Using methodologies developed at the National Quality Research Center of
the University of Michigan Business School, the National Cemetery
Administration received ratings in the categories of "customer service"
and "user trust" of 96 out of a possible 100 points, indicating
respondents are exceptionally pleased with their experience at national
cemeteries and willing to recommend their services to others.

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than
dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be
buried in a VA national cemetery.  Also eligible are military personnel
who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of
whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery,
include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a
government headstone or marker.  Families of eligible decedents may also
order a memorial headstone or marker when remains are not available for
interment.

In the midst of the largest expansion since the Civil War, VA operates
131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers'
lots and monument sites.  More than 3.5 million Americans, including
Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA's cemeteries on
more than 19,000 acres of land.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery
offices, from the Internet at www.cem.va.gov  <http://www.cem.va.gov> or
by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000.  To make
burial arrangements at the time of need at any VA national cemetery,
call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.

VA Publishes Final Regulation to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange in Korea

Will Provide Easier Path to Health Care and Benefits

WASHINGTON – Veterans exposed to herbicides while serving along the
demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Korea will have an easier path to access
quality health care and benefits under a Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) final regulation that will expand the dates when illnesses caused
by herbicide exposure can be presumed to be related to Agent Orange.

"VA's primary mission is to be an advocate for Veterans," said Secretary
of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki "With this new regulation VA has
cleared a path for more Veterans who served in the demilitarized zone in
Korea to receive access to our quality health care and disability
benefits for exposure to Agent Orange."

Under the final regulation published today in the Federal Register, VA
will presume herbicide exposure for any Veteran who served between April
1, 1968, and Aug. 31, 1971, in a unit determined by VA and the
Department of Defense (DoD) to have operated in an area in or near the
Korean DMZ in which herbicides were applied.

Previously, VA recognized that Agent Orange exposure could only be
conceded to Veterans who served in certain units along the Korean DMZ
between April 1968 and July 1969.

In practical terms, eligible Veterans who have specific illnesses VA
presumes to be associated with herbicide exposure do not have to prove
an association between their illness and their military service.  This
"presumption" simplifies and speeds up the application process for
benefits and ensures that Veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

Click on these links to learn about Veterans' diseases associated with
Agent Orange exposure
<http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/agentorange/disea
ses.asp
>  at
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp and
birth defects in children of Vietnam-era Veterans
<http://www.publichealth.va.gov/PUBLICHEALTH/exposures/agentorange/birth
_defects.asp
>  at
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/birth_defects.asp.

VA encourages Veterans with covered service in Korea who have medical
conditions that may be related to Agent Orange to submit their
applications for access to VA health care and compensation as soon as
possible so the agency can begin processing their claims.

Individuals can go to website
http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm
<http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/AO/claimherbicide.htm>  to get a more
complete understanding of how to file a claim for presumptive conditions
related to herbicide exposure, as well as what evidence is needed by VA
to make a decision about disability compensation or survivors benefits.

Additional information about Agent Orange and VA's services for Veterans
exposed to the chemical is available at
www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange
<http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/> .

The regulation is available on the Office of the Federal Register
website at http://www.ofr.gov/.

Obama Announces ‘Unprecedented Commitment’ to Military Families


By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2011 – President Barack Obama today unveiled a governmentwide plan to strengthen military family support, offering a glimpse at a few of the new programs and cooperative efforts being launched in the coming months to improve quality of life and well-being for military families.

"Today, I'm proud to announce that for the first time ever, supporting the well-being of our military families will be a priority not just for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, but all across the federal government," Obama said.

Speaking from the White House's East Room, Obama unveiled this "unprecedented commitment" to military families with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, at his side. Top government and Defense Department officials also were on hand, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the service chiefs, and their spouses.

Spotlighting the importance of military family support, Obama recalled his trip to Afghanistan last month, where he spoke to troops and asked them what he could do to better support them.

"Without missing a beat, they looked me in the eye and they gave me their answer," the president said. "It wasn't about more equipment. It wasn't about more resources on the battlefield. In fact, it wasn't about them.

"They said, to a man: 'Sir, take care of our families,'" he said. "'If we know our families are all right back home, then we can do our jobs.'"

Service members and their families have done everything the nation has asked of them in this decade of war, and the nation now must serve them with the same unfailing support, Obama said. That's exactly why he directed a governmentwide review of military family support, he added, calling for "innovative new partnerships" to better serve military families worldwide.

Earlier today, the White House released the results of this nearly yearlong review of military family support. From child care to health care to spouse employment, the report — titled "Strengthening our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment" — identifies the key issues military families face and presents programs and resources government agencies plan to launch in the coming months to address them.

The report outlines four key areas the whole-of-government effort plans to address: enhancing military families' well-being and psychological health, developing military spouse career and education opportunities, increasing child care availability and quality, and ensuring excellence in military children's education and development.

Improving quality of life is a priority, Obama noted, offering a glimpse at some programs that will focus in the coming months on families' well-being. The Defense and Health and Human Services departments, for example, are working together to improve community mental health services and to prevent suicides, he said. And a new office in the Treasury Department will help to protect military families from financial pitfalls, such as predatory lending.
"And we are going to remain relentless — not just at VA, but at [the Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services departments] and across the government — in our fight to end homelessness among our veterans," the president said.

"We have to have zero tolerance for homelessness among our veterans," he added, a statement that was met by thunderous applause.

Another priority, Obama said, is the education and development of military children, many of whom attend public schools. He praised the efforts of agencies such as the Education and Interior departments. The Education Department will give military families priority in some of its grant programs, and the Interior Department plans to create more opportunities for military children.

The government also will "redouble" its effort to help military spouses attain education goals and careers, Obama said.

"We're going to help spouses to get that degree, find that job or start that new business," he said. "We want every company in America to know our military spouses and veterans have the skills and the dedication, and our nation is more competitive when we tap their incredible talents."

Finally, the government is going to expand child care options for military parents. "Working together, we believe we can find new child care options for tens of thousands of military children," the president said.

In total, Obama said, his administration is making nearly 50 specific commitments to military families today. But the government can't accomplish this mission alone, he added.

"Government has its responsibilities," Obama said. "One percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but a hundred percent of Americans need to be supporting our troops and their families — a hundred percent."
  Obama Announces 'Unprecedented Commitment' to Military Families

Related Sites:
Special Report: Strengthening Our Military Families – Meeting America's Commitment
White House transcript
White House news release

Airman Missing in Action from Korean War is Identified

            The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, has been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

            Air Force 1st Lt. Robert F. Dees, 23, of Moultrie, Ga., will be buried Jan. 22 at the Longstreet Historical Cemetery in Ozark, Ala.  On Oct. 9, 1952, he was flying an F-84 Thunderjet, attacking several targets in North Korea.  After he and three aircraft from the 430th Fighter-Bomber Squadron completed their attack on their primary target, they began their bombing run against enemy boxcars on the railroad near Sinyang.  Other members of his flight reported seeing an explosion near the target they were attacking.  They believed it to be the crash of Dees' aircraft and could not raise any radio contact with him.  Airborne searches over the battlefield failed to locate him or his aircraft.

            Following the armistice in 1953, the North Koreans repatriated 4,219 remains of U.S. and allied soldiers during Operation Glory.  In November 1954, they turned over remains which they reported were recovered from Sinyang.  Accompanying the remains were portions of a pilot's flight suit and a pneumatic life preserver.  But after two attempts, the Army's mortuary at Kokura, Japan, was unable to identify the remains.  They were buried in 1956 as "unknown" at the Punch Bowl Cemetery in Hawaii.

            Beginning in the late 1990s, analysts from DPMO and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) undertook a concentrated review of Korean War air losses, as well as a review of the Kokura mortuary files.  They made a tentative association to Dees, based on U.S. wartime records as well as the information provided by the North Koreans.  These remains were disinterred from the Punch Bowl Cemetery in June 2010.

            Dees' remains were identified by making extensive dental comparisons with his medical records.

            For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

Interactive Simulation Launched to Provide Information on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

             The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today the launch of an interactive simulation designed to help those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

             The National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) developed the 'Virtual PTSD Experience' to help combat veterans and their families and friends to anonymously enter a virtual world and learn about PTSD causes, symptoms and resources. 

             "We believe this is the first time DoD has used interactive simulations with the Web to help our military community with PTSD in the privacy of their homes," said Dr. George Peach Taylor Jr., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

             The Virtual PTSD Experience was designed to be used in the privacy of homes.  Visitors are anonymous, which reduces the perceived stigma of asking for help with PTSD.

             "We created an environment that lets people learn by doing, rather than reading text and watching videos on two-dimensional websites," said. Kevin Holloway, the psychologist who led T2's virtual world development.  "They can learn something new each time they visit."

             The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience can be visited at http://www.t2health.org/vwproj/ .

             Located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., T2 is a component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.  For more information about the T2 Virtual PTSD Experience, media may contact Joe Jimenez at joseph.jimenez@amedd.army.mil or at 253-318-1177.

WTF ? NATO Sees Russia as Missile Defense Partner

Since the end of the Cold War our membership in NATO maybe has been not in our best interest as it has such a cloudy mission and doctrines these days. Read this and tell me what do you think?

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2011 – Expressing confidence that the Russian parliament will ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he's looking forward to moving ahead during the first half of 2011 on missile defense cooperation with Russia.

Rasmussen, speaking on his video blog posted yesterday, hailed the landmark decision between NATO and Russia at the alliance's November summit in Lisbon, Portugal, and emphasized NATO's "strong commitment to enhance and deepen our cooperation and to keep the spirit of Lisbon alive."

NATO and Russia agreed at the summit to begin working together toward developing a continentwide missile defense system.

"For the first time, NATO nations and Russia will be cooperating to defend themselves," Rasmussen said of the new missile defense cooperation. "Our citizens in Europe will share enhanced security, and that is unprecedented."

Cooperation on missile defense is an important stepping stone toward development of the overall security relationship with Russia, he said. "It could be a vehicle for even further practical cooperation and confidence-building in the years to come," he said.

"This is simple logic," he added. "Increasingly, we share many threats to our common security." As examples, he cited terrorism, the growing narcotics trade, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and piracy.

The missile defense system will protect people in NATO-member nations and Russia against the growing missile threat, Rasmussen said. He recognized that more than 30 nations have or are seeking a missile capability. "This is a development we cannot ignore," he said.

As NATO and Russia evaluate the best ways to cooperate in missile defense, Rasmussen said, NATO envisions "two independent but coordinated systems, working back to back."

This will offer several benefits, he explained. It will promote information exchange, provide a wider picture of the skies over Europe and with it, improved protection of Russian as well as allied territories.

Rasmussen said NATO will offer Russia transparency about its system that provides assurance that it isn't –- and can't be -– directed at Russia.

Also, by maintaining two independent systems, he said, both NATO and Russia can avoid "outsourcing our security to one another."

"NATO security is based on collective defense," he said. "And I assume that Russia, as a strong and independent nation, also wants to be fully in control of its defense systems."

Rasmussen said he looks forward to "constructive discussions with Russia in the months ahead" that will build on commitments made at Lisbon.

Meanwhile, the Russia parliament is considering ratification of the New START Treaty. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in Prague in April, and the U.S. Senate ratified it last month.
 

Biographies:
Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Related Sites:
NATO

VA Office Developing Innovative Patient-Centered Model of Care for

Dr. Tracy Williams Gaudet to Lead Office

 

WASHINGTON (Jan. 19, 2011)– The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
creating a new office to develop personal, patient-centered models of
care for Veterans who receive health care services at VA's more than
1,000 points of care across the Nation.

"VA has become one of the Nation's leaders in quality health care and is
increasingly cited as the standard to emulate," said VA Under Secretary
for Health Dr. Robert A. Petzel. "However, we must always continue to
find ways to deliver more with our systems to the incredible patients we
are honored to serve. We need to be data-driven, providing the
treatments and therapies with the best clinical evidence, and we need to
be patient-centered, never losing sight that we have been given the
noble mission to care for our Nation's Veterans, families and
survivors."

The new VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation
began operations on Jan. 17 and is based in Arlington, Va.

The office's director, Dr. Tracy Williams Gaudet, comes to VA from Duke
University Medical Center where she has served as the executive director
of Duke Integrated Medicine since 2001.  Dr. Gaudet received her
Bachelor of Arts and medical degrees from Duke University.

"The VA's vision and commitment to cultural transformation comes at a
pivotal moment for health care in this country, and I am deeply honored
to be joining VA in this important work," said Dr. Gaudet.  "The Office
of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation will be a living,
learning organization in which we will discover and demonstrate new
models of care, analyze the results, and then create strategies that
allow for their translation and implementation across the VA.  VA will
continue to be a national leader in innovation, and, in this way, we
will provide the future of high-quality health care to our Veterans."

The VA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation will
have four regional implementation teams at select VA medical centers
across the country: Birmingham, Ala; East Orange, N.J.; Dallas; and Los
Angeles.

Each VA medical center was selected for excellence already demonstrated
in producing cultures of patient-centered care based on established
criteria.  These regional teams, comprised of patient-centered care
consultants, will be responsible for facilitating the culture change for
patient-centered care at all VA facilities.

Statement from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Tomorrow, we celebrate the life and legacy of a great American, Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. – Baptist preacher, civil rights activist, iconic
healer, leader of the nonviolent movement in civil disobedience, a true
visionary, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1968), recipient of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977, posthumous), and recipient of the
Congressional Gold Medal (2004, posthumous).

In a sermon delivered shortly before his assassination in April of 1968,
Dr. King told the congregation that after his death, he hoped people
would remember that he fought peacefully for justice for all men and
women:

"I'd like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr.,
tried to give his life serving others.  I'd like for somebody to say
that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

"I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the
hungry.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life
to clothe those who were naked.  And I want you to say that day, that I
did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison.  I want you to
say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

"Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum
major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum
major for righteousness.  And all of the other shallow things will not
matter."

Let us remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dedication to the
service of others. As we serve the Veterans who have served our Nation,
let us walk in his footsteps to the better tomorrows he saw so clearly
in his dreams.