Posts filed under ‘Skills and Training’

VETERANS: VA Exploring New Ways to Ease Veterans’ Pain, Trauma

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.

TSIS image-Sim Mannequin

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.

March 30, 2017 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 24, 2017)

Snow Tracks.

2017 Vermont Best Warrior

(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

March 24, 2017 at 12:50 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 17, 2017)

Sky Divers/Space Divers.

103rd Rescue Squadron Assists NASA during SENTRY ALOHA

(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.

 

March 17, 2017 at 12:21 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 10, 2017)

Logging Some Miles.

Air Liaison Officers test cadets

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

Who says modern warfare is just about pushing buttons? Not these Air Force Academy cadets. The cadets were carrying a log during a medical evacuation march at Camp Bullis, Texas, last month (February 16, 2017). The cadets were required to trek multiple miles carrying logs and simulated casualties to a medical evacuation zone in limited time.

Not exactly simple as rolling off a log.

March 10, 2017 at 12:45 am Leave a comment

BALTIC to BLACK: From the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, Russia’s Neighbors Are Nervous

Sweden to Resume Draft.

Armored vehicles loaded with troops hit the beach in Sweeden during BALTOPS 2015

(A Swedish amphibious assault vehicle participating in NATO exercise BALTOPS 2015.)

Concerned about Russia’s aggressive actions in the Baltic region, and mounting uncertainty over Europe’s alliance with the United States, Swedish authorities have announced mandatory military service will return for men and women next year.

Sweden, which abolished the draft in 2010, plans to conscript 4,000 men and women in 2018, according to the New York Times. Unlike most of its neighbors in the region (Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) Sweden is neutral and not a member of NATO.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Baltics became a region of stability. But all that changed with Russia’s annexation of Crimea three years ago and the Russian support for the insurgency in Ukraine, the Times said. Swedish military spending last year  was up 11 percent.

“The Russian illegal annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine and the increased military activity in our neighborhood are some of the reasons,” Marinette Nyh Radebosaid, a Swedish defense ministry spokesperson, told the BBC.

map-baltic-region

(Map courtesy of NATO Review.)

In recent years, Baltic and Nordic nations have been rattled by Russia’s antagonistic behavior. There have been numerous reports of Russia probing Nordic defenses, from an underwater vehicle  entering Swedish waters to Russian bomber flights violating Swedish and Finnish airspace. Estonia was hit by a massive cyber attack, believed to be Russian in origin, in 2007.

*** *** ***

Norway Boosts Defense Budget.

Last year, Norway announced a 1.9 billion krone ($230 million) increase in defense spending for 2017, bringing the country’s total military spending to 50.9 billion krone. More than 12 billion of that amount was to go to procurement, IHS Jane’s reported last October.

The increase, part of Norway’s Long Term Defence Plan, drew criticism from opposition lawmakers who didn’t like where the money would come from — the Government Pension Fund. But according to Defense News, cross-party support for the boost in defense spending was fueled by two concerns: keeping pace with Russia’s military buildup in the High North (above the Arctic Circle) and whether the Trump White House might weaken U.S. spending on maintaining European security.

The Norwegian Defense Ministry wants to buy more F-35 strike fighters, three helicopter-equipped Coast Guard vessels and CV-90 combat armored vehicles, as well as armored reconnaissance systems and artillery equipment. Longer term acquisition plans would seek a new air defense system and multi-role drones.

“Given all that is happening in the region, Norway needs to have the strongest defense that it can afford,” Bård Vegard Solhjell, a Socialist Left Party member of parliament told Defense News last month.

*** *** ***

U.S. Troops in Romania.

Meanwhile, the United States military is training with NATO militaries and partner nations in and around the Black Sea.

Platinum Eagle 17.1: Dismount Range

(A U.S. Marine, center, watches Ukrainian soldiers in action during Exercise Platinum Eagle at Smardan Training Area, Romania, on February 24, 2017. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Sean J. Berry.)

The latest operation: Soldiers, tanks and M88 recovery vehicles from the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment’s “Fighting Eagles” recently arrived in Romania in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The soldiers and equipment traveled more than 1,100 miles from western Poland, where the battalion and the rest of the 3,500 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), deployed to Europe, initially assembled.

Participating in Atlantic Resolve means the 3rd ABCT will conduct bilateral and multinational training with allies in eight different countries, according to the Army. The emphasis will be increasing interoperability with Romanian and Bulgarian land forces over the next six months.

The 3rd ABCT began arriving in Europe from Fort Carson, Colorado in January. The 3rd ABCT is bringing approximately 3,500 personnel and 87 tanks, 18 Paladin self-propelled guns; 419 humvee  variants; 144 Bradley Fighting Vehicles; (446 tracked vehicles, 907 wheeled vehicles, 650 trailers).

4th ID strengthes ties with Romanian NFIU

Major Royce Baker, chief of fires with the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element, meets Colonel Catalin Ticulescu, commander of the Romanian NATO Force Integration Unit, during a Multinational Division-South East Command staff exchange. (Photo by Army Staff Sergeant Diandra J. Harrell)

In February 2017 units began distributing across region with to Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany and several Baltic nations.

 

 

 

 

March 9, 2017 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (March 3, 2017)

The Long Tan Line.

1st CEB Hikes During MTX 2-17

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Corporal Danny Gonzalez).

 Chosin Reservoir, 1950? Nope. Chilikoot Pass, 1899? Wrong. Retreat from Moscow, 1812? Wrong again.

This FRIDAY FOTO shows U.S. Marines snowshoeing downhill  at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California on February 22, 2017. The Marines are assigned to the 1st Marine Division’s 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, which conducted training that tested Marines’ mobility and survival skills in a mountainous, snow-covered environment.

March 3, 2017 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

AFRICA/SPECIAL OPS: Seven Countries Host Special Operations Exercise

Flintlock 2017.

A U.S.-led multinational military exercise — Flintlock 2017 — is underway in seven northern and western African countries. Flintlock is an annual training exercise for Special Operations Forces (SOF) designed to reinforce cooperation and the capabilities of participating nations.

flintlock-2017-niger-troops

Nigerien armed forces participate in the opening ceremonies of Flintlock 2017 in Diffa, Niger, February 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Specialist Zayid Ballesteros)

Last year, Exercise Flintlock 2016 was hosted by Senegal and Mauritania. This year, seven countries are hosting Flintlock 2017: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Tunisia.

In addition to U.S. Green Berets from the 3rd Army Special Forces Group, which is regionally aligned to North and West Africa, SOF units from Australia, Belgium and Canada will be participating in the three-week exercise. The 20 personnel from Canada will include staff from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment and medical specialists from Canadian Forces health services group, according to the Ottawa Citizen

Other countries sending troops, 20 in all,  include:  Algeria, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Senegal,  Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.

west-africa-map

The region where Flintlock is taking place is threatened by violent radical groups like Boko Haram and al Qaeda. Brigadier General Donald Bolduc, head of Special Operations Command Africa, said the training is focused on helping partners coordinate a regional response to extremist threats from al Qaeda-aligned groups and the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Stars and Stripes.

“These threats are a shared challenge we can only meet together,” Bolduc said during the Flintlock opening ceremony in Chad,” according to U.S. Africa Command. The exercise will pay special attention to protecting borders and guarding against cross-border attacks. Boko Haram, the Nigerian-based terrorist group, has launched attacks on neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

flintlock-2017-green-berets-saluting

Colonel Major TN Pale, Burkina Faso’s Army Chief of Staff, salutes U.S. Army Green Berets during the opening ceremony of Flintlock 2017 at Camp Zagre, Burkina Faso on February 27, 2017.  (U.S. Army photo by Sergeant Benjamin Northcutt)

March 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

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