Archive for March, 2017
Passing the Baton.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Laura Mercado)
Marine Corps Private First Class Maria Daume (left), is congratulated by a veteran Marine after graduating from the basic mortarman course at Marine Corps Base Camp Geiger, North Carolina, on March 23, 2017.
This seemed like a fitting photo to close out Women’s History Month 2017, with one generation of Marines congratulating a member of the newest generation. The older Marine (she is unidentified in the photo caption) has the Korean Service medal, among others, on her jacket.
To see more photos of American servicewoman doing a variety of jobs, click here.
Mannequins to Marijuana.
Starting off 2017 with new leadership and a promise of additional funding from the Trump administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is exploring new techniques and new technologies to enhance patient treatment and caregiver training — amid increasing demands from a mushrooming veteran population.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Simulation Center in Florida provides a high-fidelity training environment by replicating actual patient treatment areas with video recording for classroom debriefing and review. (VHA photo).
In addition to meeting the needs of aging 20th century vets, the VA health care system is trying to cope with a surge of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The number of veteran enrollees in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) grew from 7.9 million in 2006 to nearly 9 million a decade later, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is the most prevalent mental health challenge facing veterans, according to the VA’s National Center for PTSD. VA research indicates between 11 percent and 20 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD in any given year. For Vietnam vets, it estimates 30 percent have had PTSD in their lifetime. More than 330,000 service members were diagnosed with traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2015, according to the Defense Department’s Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.
Dr. David Shulkin, the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs has pledged to improve veterans healthcare services, including providing timely access, especially cutting the first appointment wait time for vets in crisis, and to do more to address the veteran suicide rate of 20 deaths a day. Veterans Affairs was one of only three federal departments to get a funding increase in President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal. The White House is seeking to increase VA’s funding by 6 percent to $78.9 billion.
Meanwhile, veterans’ groups are calling on Congress to increase funding for complementary and alternative therapies for the “invisible wounds of war,” PSTD and traumatic brain injury (TBI). VA is studying non-mainstream medical practices ranging from natural products like vitamins, minerals and herbs to mind and body practices like yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage therapy and chiropractic and osteopathic spinal manipulation.
The American Legion has suggested studying medical marijuana as a therapy for chronic pain. Chronic pain is the most common problem afflicting veterans. Almost two-thirds of veterans say they are in pain, and 9.1 percent say their pain is severe.
VHA has turned to advanced medical simulation and other high tech systems to standardize training procedures and education policies across its 1,233 healthcare facilities, including 168 medical centers.
VHA opened its new national simulation training center near Orlando, Florida last fall. Using computerized mannequins and other high tech equipment, students can replicate actual patient treatment situations that can be repeated as often as necessary. The training can be shared with other VA facilities through on-line video and other digital methods.
These and related topics will be discussed by government, medical and industry experts at the VA Healthcare 2017 conference May 15-18 in Arlington, Virginia. To read more, click here.
(U.S. Army National Guard Photo by 1st Lieutenant Benjamin Haulenbeek)
Soldiers advance through snow to their next firing position during a stress shoot. The exercise was part of the Vermont Best Warrior Competition at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vermont., on March 18, 2017.
During the three-day event, elite soldiers take physical fitness tests and written exams, and perform warrior tasks relevant to the current environment
No Vet, Like an Old Vet.
(Army Reserve photo by Staff Sergeant Ken Scar)
Retired Army Colonel Ben Skardon, 99, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, walks in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March with two Army medics at White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico on March 19, 2017.
This was the 10th time Skardon walked in the event, which commemorates a brutal episode in the history of World War II in the Pacific.
Seventy-five years ago next month (April 9), U.S. forces fighting the Japanese on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines coping with heavy casualties, lack of food, ammunition and other supplies were forced to surrender in April 1942.
The approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops on Bataan were forced to make an arduous 65-mile march to prison camps. Intense heat, disease, exhaustion and harsh treatment by Japanese guards led to thousands of deaths. A number of atrocities occurred during the march.
Click here to read the accounts of some of the survivors.
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SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.
Sky Divers/Space Divers.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Christopher Muncy.)
Airmen practicing new spacecraft recovery techniques jump from a C-17 cargo plane into the waters off Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii on March 7, 2017.
The white ring near the diver on the right is not a cloud or smoke but the wake of a small boat circling the orange target in the water far below these parachutists.
These pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 103rd Rescue Squadron, 106th Rescue Wing, are training with the equipment and techniques that will be used to recover the crew module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The skydivers got their lift to the exercise on a C-17 supplied by the Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, 204th Airlift Squadron.
To see more photos of this operation, click here.
Trump Seeks Defense Budget Boost.
President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal 2018 spending plan Thursday (March 16) which sets the framework for a final budget request to Congress. If passed, the funding request would sharply increase military and homeland security spending while cutting the budgets of dozens of federal agencies and programs — including the State, Justice and Transportation departments.
In the wake of Trump’s so-called “skinny” budget, which will likely go through numerous amendments and changes before being voted upon by Congress, the Pentagon released a broad wish list on Thursday, which, the New York Times noted, signals what the Defense Department “would do with its proposed $54 billion windfall, filling its shopping cart with desires including Apache helicopters for the Army, anti-submarine planes for the Navy, fighter jets and more training for selected personnel.” The budget proposal calls for $639 billion in defense spending, up $52 billion from last year’s budget request. It also seeks another $2 billion for national security programs in other agencies, like safety oversight of nuclear weaponry by the Energy Department.
According to Politico’s Morning Defense, “The Trump White House is touting a boost in military spending as a major element of what it calls a ‘hard-power’ budget proposal as it seeks to win over hawkish Republicans who are pushing for an even bigger increase in investments in the military. However, GOP defense hawks have criticized the administration’s claim that its proposed defense expansion is “one of the largest in history,” noting the Trump plan is only a 3 percent increase above the Obama administration’s projection for next year, POLITICO reported.
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Brazil Budget Battle.
Trump isn’t the only leader in the Americas planning to boost defense spending while cutting spending elsewhere in the budget.
Brazilian President Michel Temer is increasing the country’s military budget by 36 percent, local media reported Monday (March 13). The defense hike comes just months after Temer pushed the approval of a controversial constitutional amendment to freeze public spending for the next two decades, according to the Venezuela-based news site, teleSUR.
Citing a report by Brazilian newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, teleSUR said data compiled by Brazil’s Senate indicated military spending for this year is set to hit nearly $3.1 billion. The changes come after Brazil’s military budget was slashed under former President Dilma Rousseff’s government. In 2015, the finance minister at the time, Joaquim Levy, drastically reduced investment in the defense sector. From the US$ 3.8 billion expected to be spent in the area, it only allocated $2.1 billion, according to Senate data.
Temer’s move to increase military spending also comes after the approval of a constitutional amendment to freeze public spending for two decades. The reform ties any increase to social assistance programs to the previous year’s inflation rate, rather than GDP. This will effectively limit what all future governments can spend on health, education and social welfare for at least 20 years, according to teleSUR.
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Australian Drone Program
California-based unmanned aircraft maker General Atomics has launched its Team Reaper Australia group to meet the Australian military’s search for a new drone, according to C4ISRNET.
Turkey Defense Procurement
A Turkish government report on defense procurement for the next five years urges the input of domestic industry to become a global player.
The 124-page Strategic Plan for 2017-2021 was prepared by Turkey’s defense procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries. Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik defines the plan’s goal as making the Turkish industry “a global player with technological superiority,” Defense News reports.