Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: April, 2012 (8) Currently Viewing: 1 - 8 of 8

April 6, 2012 at 10:11am

Brigade hosts motorcycle safety course

"During the last fiscal year, the Army lost 45 Soldiers to motorcycle accidents," Ed Cartwright, 593rd Sustainment Brigade safety officer, said. "One is too many."

Cartwright, along with Sgt. Maj. Julio Bensimon, 593rd Sust. Bde. support operations sergeant major and brigade motorcycle safety officer, decided to do something about the alarming statistic. They contacted Bruce Thomas, the Washington State Motorcycle Safety Program manager in Olympia, and asked him if he would be willing to conduct an instructor course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"I jumped at the chance to run the course," Thomas, a retired Coast Guard warrant officer, said. "I love working with the military and I love motorcycles. Typically, anybody involved in teaching motorcycle skills has a passion for it because it sure doesn't pay that well."

The course is officially titled the "RiderCoach Preparation Course" and lasts a total of 60 hours, to include classroom training, as well as road training.

"(The students) are becoming instructors to teach a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course and the Experienced Rider Course," Thomas said. "These guys will be able to run this course for folks that have never been on motorcycles before and to take folks that have been on motorcycles and bring them into an experienced class.

"The most dangerous places in our state are in corners, where the majority of fatalities happen, because of a lack of skill. A lot of riders don't have enough skill to swerve the bike or to stop the bike effectively.

"This program incorporates how to corner, how to corner better and it teaches the students to stop better each time," Thomas said. "With these guys, you have Soldiers teaching Soldiers skills that are actually going to save lives."

The class was offered to unit motorcycle mentors so they could pass the skills on to Soldiers in their units.

"When a mentor earns this certification, it gives them added credibility and legitimacy to the unit's motorcycle mentorship program, enabling them to keep their Soldiers safe," Cartwright said.

Soldiers from 1st Special Forces Group; 17th Fires Brigade; 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division; 555th Engineer Brigade and 62nd Medical Brigade sent representatives to take the training.

First Lt. Patrick Lantagne, an intelligence officer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, enrolled in the course because he wanted to gain credibility as a motorcycle safety officer for his unit.

"Now I can instruct and mentor bikers who are somewhat new to (riding motorcycles) and just getting out learning the basics of riding," he said. "We are able to instill in them values and skills they might not learn otherwise. We don't want them going out and using driving skills that are unsafe and that might lead to them hurting themselves or hurting others."

Lantagne has been riding motorcycles for 13 years and was still amazed at the amount of knowledge he gained during the course.

"The class has been really eye-opening for me," he said. "No matter how good of a rider you think you are, you can always improve and you can always learn something that you might not have known before.

"You get to operate with other experienced motorcyclists and get insight from them and their style of teaching, riding and how they see, evaluate and execute each task in order to be safe out on the road."

Filed under: Hobbies, Training,

April 6, 2012 at 10:16am

Workshop teaches resiliency through art

Workshop participants Jane Cherney, left, Karen Zeiders, middle, and Georgia Reitmire work on their circus character drawings during a recent Resiliency throught Art seminar on JBLM Lewis Main. (Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian)

On canvas a clown touches a window pane. Visible through it stands the home he can't touch. Painted by a Vietnam veteran, the face paint represents his struggles with post-traumatic stress, the glass symbolizes his alienation, and out of reach beyond it is home, the place he loves the most.

The work communicates a profound reality that the artist found difficult to put into words.

"We can talk around a problem, but art therapy forces you to get to the most primitive areas of your brain where words aren't even connected," Maureen Harvey, an Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center art therapist, said at Joint Base Lewis-McChord last week.

Harvey was a core trainer for a two-day workshop, called "Resiliency through Art," which made its second stop on its three-installation tour, March 26 to 27. The U.S. Army Installation Management Command program is supported by the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and the American Art Therapy Association.

Multiple art projects during the two days encouraged creativity and self reflection, while accompanying information sessions included topics like PTS and traumatic brain injury. Civil servants from across JBLM attended the "train the trainer" event developed by a team of AATA art therapists to support CSF. The team members, all accredited by the Art Therapy Credentials Board, are experts in military health care, art therapy and resilience training.

"The Army is already on board with (art therapy,) I just think the issue is the persistence in sticking with it. Given the opportunity to express themselves, people will stand back and realize ‘I didn't even realize I was feeling that way,'" Harvey said.

She stressed art therapy's benefits to Soldiers and Airmen who have served on multiple deployments during America's longest conflict, enabling them to clarify thoughts and get in touch with complex, sometimes hidden emotions.

"They can reframe a lot of what's been going on with them, then be able to pull back and see what's important to them," she said, "see the family they care about and not only just the pain they're dealing with - see the bigger picture."

Gloria Rodgers, arts and crafts director of the JBLM DFMWR Community Recreation Division, attended the workshop and said she's looking forward to sharing the information she learned.

"We need this," she said. "(Art therapy skeptics) need to sit in on one of these classes; I think it would change their minds completely."

Rodgers, an Army civilian at the former Fort Lewis since 1972, said she has a stress outlet similar to the projects she tackled last week, so she knew of their therapeutic values.

"I crochet one-of-a-kind items and I don't concentrate on anything but that blanket," she said. "This is the same really. These are projects that practice overcoming obstacles."

Other Soldiers and Army civilians from installations as far as Fort Huachuca, Ariz., came to JBLM for the two-day training.

Jean Neal, an employee of IMCOM Community Relations who coordinated the three-installation swing, said its first stop at Fort Hood, Texas was very eventful.

"We had people come over from their (Warrior Training Unit) and the military family life consultants," she said. "We had a Soldier who was assigned to WTU's arts and crafts. He worked there during the day and in the evening he'd go into the wood shop and work on building a guitar. He wasn't too engaged in what was going on (during the day,) but he did follow the activities. On the last day, we made a circle and he spoke about the guitar and how his grandfather, who was a carpenter, taught him how to build one. The social worker and the arts and crafts director there said that was the most they had ever heard him speak or open up."

Neal and the program's core trainers will meet with local trainers and students when they converge on Fort Drum, N.Y., April 23 to 24.

Filed under: Arts, Fort Lewis, Hobbies, Veterans,

April 6, 2012 at 12:01pm

Navy F-18 crashes into Va. apartment complex

This from USA Today: A Navy fighter jet crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment building at about noon Friday, igniting a blaze that damaged five apartment buildings.

Two unidentified crewmembers ejected from the F/A-18D with what were described as minor injuries. As of early Friday afternoon, several people were being treated for smoke inhalation, says Bruce Nedelka, Virginia Beach EMS division chief.

One of the downed aviators was assisted by bystanders. "He was in shock" but seemed OK, Pat Kavanaugh, a retired local fire department rescue squad member, told CNN.

To read more, click here

Filed under: Defense News, News To Us,

April 6, 2012 at 1:35pm

JBLM Soldiers embrace dodgeball

John Gwin, left, and Kendall Presley play dodgeball with friends March 29 at Soldiers Field House on JBLM Lewis Main. (Photo by Scott Hansen)

Jeffrey Jenkins took off his glasses.

He'd been running, throwing and dodging and sweat was blurring his vision. Without his glasses he still couldn't see clearly, but Jenkins was still able to hit his targets in a friendly game of dodgeball.

"I just see silhouettes and I aim," he said.

Jenkins helped his team to a 15-11 victory in an organized night of dodgeball March 29 at Soldiers Field House. Organized by Ebony Austin of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, dodgeball kicked off its nostalgic bi-weekly run on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"I wish more people had come out," Tim Moulton said. "If we do it every other week maybe more people will come."

Moulton and six of his comrades with the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade got together to attend the competition. The game started out 4-on-4 and eventually grew to 5-on-5, but the lack of participation meant more work for those participating as they played continuously for nearly two hours.

"My arm is going to fall off," Moulton said. "I think the last time I played dodgeball was middle school."

"It was well over a decade ago," Josh Wren chipped in.

While elbows, shoulders and arms were spent, there was no denying the competitors enjoyed themselves.

The opponents taunted each other with teasing remarks. One participant made fun of Jenkins' throwing style, comparing him to Fred Flintstone. The remarks backfired as Jenkins took him out with a ball to the chest.

"Looks like we got ourselves a little Mexican standoff," one participant said when faced with a 3-on-3 battle.

"I'm not standing down," his opponent replied.

The commotion from the dodgeball court attracted the attention of people playing basketball in the neighboring gym and people lifting weights in the weight room.

Trevor Lemos found himself the lone man standing on his team's side as he faced three competitors. With the odds stacked against him he picked off each opponent to get the win.

"That's what I'm talking about tomorrow!" he yelled.

The participants had a difficult time adhering to the rule of not holding a ball for longer than five seconds. There were complaints about questionable calls and breaking the rules in a game that was self-refereed.

"I do the splits of the century and I get called out? Come on!" One participant yelled while he walked off the floor.

In the end one team walked off victorious. While there were no awards, no trophy and no celebration, the victors enjoyed bragging rights they'll hold on to until Thursday.

Coming from the victorious team, Moulton knew the secret to success.

"Catching. It definitely wasn't throwing."

Austin announced the dodgeball night would continue bi-weekly and if participation numbers increased she would plan a tournament in May.

For more information contact the FMWR office at 967-4768.

Filed under: Fort Lewis, MWR, Sports,

April 10, 2012 at 6:35am

Playgroud Notes

Do you have a mini princess on your hands? Perhaps a Disney diva who refuses to wear anything but sparkly slippers and tiaras? Well on Saturday, April 14th, she will have a chance to shine. The party will be held at the Lakewood Community Center, which will be transformed into a fabulous ball fit for any princess that might walk through the door. "There will be music and snacks, as well as pictures with a Princess that your daughter can take home with them. We will also be making crafts, like wands and crowns," says Meredith Smith, a Recreation Supervisor with the Community Center.

The cost is $13 per participant, and parents are free. Pre-registration is required by the 11th, and spots are filling up fast. There is not an age range for the event, though drop offs for Princesses under the age of five are not allowed. For more information or to register contact (253) 798-4177.

April 25, 2012 at 6:31am

JBLM TEN-MILER TRIALS ARE APRIL 28

Active-duty Soldiers - timed trials for the JBLM Army 10-Miler Team are April 28, May 12 & July 28; 8AM at Cowan Stadium (Lewis Main). For info, call: (253) 967-4768. For others: priority registration for U.S. service members (& runners who have participated in 7+ previous races) begins May 1. Online transfer program opens June 1. The 28th Annual Army 10-Miler is Oct. 21, at the Pentagon. For more info, visit: www.armytenmiler.com.

April 25, 2012 at 6:45am

Soldiers run to remember Tillman

A total of 28,000 registered runners and wheelchair competitors came to Tempe, Ariz., Apr. 21 to compete in the 8th Annual "Pat's Run."

Also filling the sidelines were about 2,000 spectators, volunteers and sponsors who were there to honor the memory of Cpl. Patrick Daniel "Pat" Tillman, an NFL football player with the Arizona Cardinals who left to enlist in the U.S. Army following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Tillman joined the Army Rangers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and served several tours in combat before being killed April 22, 2004, in Sperah, Afghanistan, at the age of 27, by "friendly fire" as was later ruled by the Pentagon.

After his death, the Pat Tillman Foundation was established to carry forward Tillman's legacy by inspiring and supporting those striving for positive change in themselves and the world.

His widow, Marie Ugenti Tillman, his high-school sweetheart whom he married just before enlisting in the Rangers, is president and co-founder of the foundation.

"The big thing this year was that we were sold out in advance. In previous years, people showed up and could register on the day of the event, but this has grown in such popularity, it was a sell-out, which is great," Tillman said.

She said the growth of Pat's Run has been completely overwhelming.

"I mean the fact that it's grown so much here in Tempe, but then we have all of these shadow runs all across the country and around the world is not something I could have ever imagined."

The "shadow races" are held for those who can't make it to Arizona, but still want to run, walk and honor. One was even held over the weekend at Forward Operating Base Salerno in Afghanistan.

Through a partnership with the Arizona State University Alumni association, Pat's Run Shadow Runs take place in cities from Washington, D.C., to Takoma, Wash., and from Houston, Texas, to Madison, Wis., on or about the same day as Pat's Run in Tempe.

The racers in Tempe traveled along a 4.2-mile course around Tempe Town Lake to the finish line, on the 42-yard line of Sun Devil Stadium in order to commemorate the number which Tillman wore as a Sun Devil and which was later retired in his honor.

Since the inaugural event in 2005, Pat's Run has evolved from a community celebration of Pat's memory to a global celebration of his legacy.

In September 2008, Rory Fanning, a fellow Army Ranger who was stationed with Tillman at Fort Lewis, Wash., began his "Walk for Pat", a walk across the United States in an effort to raise money and awareness for the Pat Tillman Foundation. The stated fundraising goal was $3.6 million, the value of the contract Tillman turned down when he decided to enlist in the military.

Today, in addition to honoring Pat Tillman, Pat's Run inspires Tillman Military Scholars and individuals across the country and around the world to a legacy of their own. Proceeds from the run go to providing scholarships to military members.

"Pat's Run really speaks to, not just the spirit of Pat, but also to the spirit of the military community and how they come together," Marie Tillman said.

"I hope to be here many years to come," she said.

April 25, 2012 at 9:39am

Basing change at JBLM to be announced

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -Secretary of the Army John McHugh will visit Joint Base Lewis-McChord Thursday, April 26, and will make an announcement regarding a new force realignment/basing decision that affects JBLM.  That announcement is expected in the early afternoon.

McHugh will be meeting with senior leaders, Soldiers and Wounded Warriors at JBLM, as well as touring several facilities. 

This is McHugh's second visit to JBLM since being appointed the 21st secretary of the Army in September 2009.  He has statutory responsibility for all matters related to the U.S. Army, including  manpower, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, equipment and weapons systems acquisition, communications, and financial management.

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