Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: November, 2012 (41) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 41

November 1, 2012 at 6:30am

Leadership resolves to find 'right' family programs

Photo Credit: J.D. Leipold Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, told Army spouses at the Association of the Unites States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., last week that he would continue to ask for input from garrison com

In a town hall meeting with Army spouses, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno reiterated the Army's commitment financially to do everything possible to find the right programs to help families deal with the complexities of Soldier life.

"We're still going to invest a lot of money in our family programs -- it's a high priority -- that's not going to change, but we need to do better and be more efficient in the dollars that we have," he said to the predominantly female audience at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, last week.

"We have to eliminate programs that aren't efficient enough and aren't gaining enough for our families and invest in the programs that are truly making a difference," Odierno said, adding he needed input from spouses on the programs that work and don't work.

He also said the Army needed to look at many programs that were funded with wartime funding, such as the child care subsidy program. That program was put in place because leadership knew there would be many parents deployed.

"As we move to the future, is this (funding) still necessary when parents are no longer deployed? We'll have to make those decisions as we go forward," Odierno said. "I don't want to paint a picture that we're funding everything. We've gotten additional monies from our operational funds because we were fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that will begin to go away after 2014."

Odierno made it clear that no family program would arbitrarily be discontinued. He stressed that garrison commanders will have to determine their particular family program needs and possible solutions to problems since every post has different quality of life issues.

"I don't want to respond to problems, although we'll still be able to do that," he said. "I want us to build programs that make us better as individuals, make us better as families and make us better as an Army community."

Odierno spoke briefly about two programs the Army would soon be launching. The first is the "Ready and Resilient Campaign," which is tied to the Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program.

"People can define resiliency in a lot of different ways, but there are a couple of things that we know for sure," he said. "We know that as you're able to enhance performance and capabilities, you build resiliency in individuals. It's about developing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually."

The second new program is the "Soldier for Life Campaign." Odierno said this program was about Soldiers and families making transitions, whether the Army becomes a career or not.

"This is about bringing Soldiers into the Army, having them continue to improve themselves during their time in the Army, then when they leave the Army we're going to assist them so they're ready and prepared to move on to the next stage in their lives," he said.

Thomas R. Lamont, the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, said the transition program leverages what he calls the "whole of government approach" and included both the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Labor.

"We're in the process of improving integration and synchronization of all our Soldier and family quality of life programs," he said. He noted that the Army had spent $600 million in support of family programs in 2008 and that had grown to roughly $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2013. Lamont didn't say what funding for fiscal year 2014 is anticipated to be.

"We are beginning a drawdown of our forces as directed by the DOD in support of the new national defense strategy, and we recognize that this drawdown may stress our Army," Lamont said. "But we are committed to ensuring that sustaining the all-volunteer Army remains our top priority and supporting our families is the key element of that focus."

November 1, 2012 at 6:34am

Washington Chemical Company Reactivates after 46 Years

Photo Credit: Capt. Christopher Larsen ( USARC) Lt. Col. Molly Young, commander of the 453rd Chemical Battalion, unfurls the colors of the 334th Chemical Company at its activation ceremony, Oct. 27, 2012. The 334th Chemical Company is a U.S. Army Reserve

History repeated itself here Oct. 27 as the 334th Chemical Company was reactivated in the Army Reserve, almost 47 years since the company last saw service.

The company is a subordinate unit to the 453rd Chemical Battalion and 505th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, underneath the 335th Theater Signal Command.

Saturday's activation ceremony also doubled as a company change of command.

"Anytime a unit reactivates, it's a privilege to be the first commander," said Capt. Allen Toepfer, the 334th's new company commander. "I'm thrilled, humbled and honored to have been given the opportunity.

"I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead," Toepfer added.

The 334th is a unique type of chemical unit, equipped with Biological Identification and Detection Systems, or BIDS. The system, normally mounted on a vehicle, can detect, collect, and sample chemical and biological agents from the air.

BIDS companies have more than just a tactical use overseas, said 1st Lt. Paulo Quijano, the 334th's operations officer.

"We can provide a response for large metropolitan areas," Quijano said. "We can work with state, federal, and local officials, and provide support to organizations, such as hospitals."

The 334th, with an authorized strength of 156 soldiers, is stationed at the Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center, a new facility one hour north of Seattle.

November 1, 2012 at 1:45pm

JBLM plans 2nd virtual town hall

Joint Base Lewis-McChord leadership will hold a virtual town hall Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., to connect community members with installation organizations and agencies.

"The goal is to give the JBLM community access to the installation commander and key leaders," said Catherine Caruso, JBLM public affairs office new- and social-media manager. "The virtual town hall will provide the opportunity for people to raise issues and know that the installation is taking their concerns to heart."

The event will be hosted on the JBLM Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JBLewisMcChord. To join, click "Events" on the main JBLM Facebook page, select the virtual town hall event and click "Join" on the event page. Those wishing to ask questions and make comments must first join the event.

Individuals can follow the event without joining, but will not have the ability to ask questions or make comments through the Facebook page. However, questions can also be emailed to jblm.pao@us.army.mil, and will be posted to the discussion during the town hall.

JBLM's first virtual town hall in March drew 130 active participants who asked approximately 90 questions and posted more than 300 comments. Caruso said there were 4,600 JBLM Facebook page views during the event, 10 times more than the daily average.

Next week's town hall is open to service members, family members and all JBLM employees.

"All members of the community are welcome," Caruso said.

The JBLM Facebook page comment policy will remain in effect for the town hall event. The PAO reminds service-member participants to use professional standards of conduct and adhere to social media policies established for military personnel. Any comments posted to the site that violate policy will be removed.

November 1, 2012 at 1:58pm

Shoreline Park to get new look

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO Shoreline Park on American Lake, home of the Triple Threat Triathlon, will have a new look when it re-opens in the spring. Renovations will include a larger playground area.

Shoreline Park will have a slightly different look when it opens for the 2013 season in the spring.

The seasonal swim area and park on JBLM Lewis North closed Labor Day weekend and later this month, renovations will begin to beautify the popular area.

"It's a sweet little park and it gets an awful lot of use," FMWR Project Manager Scott Ballentine said.

Irrigation work will be done and a larger playground will be installed. The walking trail from Shoreline Park to Russell Landing Marina will be extended around the peninsula. A hexagonal building will be constructed at Russell Landing for people to sit under a covered area.

The picnic area at Summer Cove at Russell Landing Marina is also under renovation. New picnic areas will be installed, and benches will be added to the new playground that was finished last year and a small parking area will be constructed.

Ballentine has been talking with historians on base to learn more about the history of the Shoreline Park area. He plans to put up historical placards throughout the area.

Work on the project is scheduled to begin Nov. 15 and be finished in time for the park to reopen in April.

No outdoor recreational activities are affected since the park is normally closed during the cold season. During its open season, Shoreline Park is a popular area where ID care holders can swim as well as boat, kayak and rent canoes.

Pavilions at Shoreline Park and Russell Landing Marina are available to reserve and rent. The park is also the setting for JBLM's annual Triple Threat Triathlon series June through August.

November 1, 2012 at 2:31pm

Casting call for JBLM kids

The Seattle Seahawks are looking for JBLM kids to join the Sea Gals Cheerleaders in a show at the Main Exchange, Dec. 8th.  Practice is that day at 8:30 a.m. inside Carey Theater, and the show is at 7 p.m.

Two hundred kids are needed.  If your kid(s), ages 5-16, is ready to perform, send the following information to roldanm@aafes.com, or turn it into the manager's office on Main Post:

Child's Name

Child's Age

Gender

T-shirt Size

Phone Number

Parent's Name

One form for each child.

November 4, 2012 at 6:23am

Online Job Fair for Veterans & Military Spouses

Milicruit, the recognized leader in virtual career fairs for veterans and military spouses, today announced that the next online career fair for veterans and military spouses will take place on November 13th from 1:00 to 4:00 PM EDT at www.veteranscareerfair.com  with recruiters available live during that time. The site is also available on demand 24/7/365 for job seekers to browse open positions and send messages to recruiters even after the live event hours.

The group of participating employers and groups to date includes: Aetna, American Corporate Partners, American Red Cross, AOC Solutions, Arise Virtual Solutions Inc., Camping World, CBRE, CHSi Middle East, Citi, Coach USA, Convergys, DaVita, Dish Network, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, General Motors, Graybar, Hero2Hire, IHG, IM Flash, Lowe's, Level 3 Communications, Inc, Medline, MOAA, NCO Financial, Northwestern Mutual, Office of Personnel Mgmt, Penske Truck Leasing, Pepsi Beverages Company, Pfizer, Philips, Progressive, Sears, State Street Corporation, The SI Organization Inc., Travelers, TSA, Union Pacific, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Waste Management, WMATA- Washington Metro, Xerox Business Services

"We recognize both the private and public sectors need to do all they can to help those who have served and sacrificed for our country find gainful employment when they return. The Milicruit veterans career fairs are an extremely effective and efficient way for the employers and veterans to meet in real time, from anywhere with a computer and internet access," said Kate Spellman, President of UBM Studios.

The Milicruit virtual job fair is accessible to active duty, guard/reservists, veterans and military spouses. The website to register is www.veteranscareerfair.com. In addition to the monthly virtual career fairs, job seekers can search for all available positions in the jobs center by location, job title, keyword and military occupation specialty or code.

In March of this year, Milicruit and their employer partners launched the 10,000 Jobs for Veterans and Military Spouses Challenge. The goal was to find jobs for at least 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013, and in just 8 months, the employers have already hired more than 9,211 veterans and military spouses.

About Milicruit
Milicruit is the recognized leader in virtual recruiting environments for military veterans. Powered by UBM Studios, Milicruit brings employers who are committed to helping returning veterans find suitable employment together with job-seeking military veterans and their spouses. Given the large number of veterans looking to reenter the civilian job market, Milicruit allows employers and job seekers to meet and interact in a convenient online setting. For additional information on Milicruit or to purchase virtual career fair services, visit www.veteranscareerfair.com.

About UBM
UBM plc is a leading global business media company. We inform markets and bring the world's buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print and provide them with the information they need to do business successfully. We focus on serving professional commercial communities, from doctors to game developers, from journalists to jewellery traders, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. Our 6,634 staff in more than 31 countries are organised into specialist teams that serve these communities, helping them to do business and their markets to work effectively and efficiently.

For more information, go to www.ubm.com; follow us at @UBM_plc to get the latest UBM news.

Filed under: Get A Job Blog,

November 4, 2012 at 6:26am

Which congressman for JBLM?

From Q-13...

Washington state has 10 congressional districts this year instead of just nine. That's because of population growth. The new, 10th District includes Tacoma, Olympia and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The race pits Republican Dick Muri and Democrat Denny Heck. 

Heck and Muri are both veterans of South Sound politics. Muri is a member of the Pierce County Council, and Heck was a onetime majority leader in the state House of Representatives.

SEE THE REST HERE

November 4, 2012 at 1:15pm

JBLM unit headed to post-Sandy clean-up

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - I Corps' 62nd Medical Brigade Preventative Medicine Team received notification to send 13 personnel to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  The preventative medicine team will depart today and will return within 30 days.  U.S. Forces Command contacted the I Corps' Emergency Operation Center about this mission last night. 

The 13-personnel team consists of one entomologist, one environmental science officer, 10 preventative medicine personnel, and 1 vehicle mechanic.  The team will take 5 vehicles and trailers. 

November 5, 2012 at 6:44am

Bill makes it easier for military to be truck drivers

A bill passed by congress can possibly make it easier for military service men and women to transition into gainful employment in the trucking industry post service.  The Military Commercial Drivers License Act of 2012, signed by Congress, October 2, 2012 and signed into law by president Obama on October 19, 2012, waives state residency requirements for military personnel who are permanently or temporarily stationed in a state which offers commercial drivers licensing.  What this means for the men and women serving at JBLM is that they can earn and meet the requirements for a Washington State Commercial Drivers License (CDL) prior to their discharge from service. 

Prior to this law's induction, states were only permitted to issue CDLs to individuals who are legal residents of the state.  However, this proved problematic for military persons who often receive their training through the military in states other than their home states.  Unable to obtain a CDL before leaving the military, Department of Defense and Department of Transportation identified the former law to be a barrier to employment for veterans.

The new law not only breaks down the barrier for veterans, but aids in filling vacancies in the trucker shortage-gap.  "The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that there are 400,000 drivers needed to fill trucking jobs throughout the United States," says Willy Eriksen, Owner of Western Pacific Truck School of Oregon.  Ninety-eight percent of Western Pacific Truck School's students are employed upon completion.  "Students usually have a job offer on their second day in the program," said Eriksen.

Getting a CDL requires the completion of a training program, such as the one offered by Western Pacific Truck School.  For a class, A CDL drivers are required to complete 160 total hours.  Forty of the hours involve classroom instruction, and 70 - 80 lab, field and observation based hours.  Erikson said, "the law already has made provisions for military men and women who drive commercial vehicles for the military to have a sign off of hours."  Specialized truck driver training in the military may be eligible for a Commercial Drivers Military Training Certificate from the Department of Veterans Affairs.  This certificate may be presented in lieu of a training school certificate. 

"Quite a few students are able to pay their tuition because of pre-hire," said Eriksen.  "Some trucking companies have a ‘tuition reimbursement program' which allows [students] to pay off their student loans as long as they work for them."  In addition, Western Pacific is approved for Washington Labor and Industry, Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, NAFTA, VA Benefits and funding through Displaced Workers. 

While trucking can pay well with wages starting at $42,000 a year, it is not the career of choice for someone who prefers structured work hours.  "It's generally one day off for every week on.  So if you drive 3 weeks, you might get 3 or 4 days off at home," said Eriksen.  However, that is contingent upon the terms of employment.  "If the employer paid for the driver's training, then it [would be possibly look like that]," said Erikson.  However, if the driver pays their tuition, they have more control over who they work for and the terms of their employment.  Moreover, with the growing demand for truckers, drivers can be selective about their employers and the terms of employment.  Some trucking companies are offering sign-on bonuses, and drivers with military experience are highly sought after, Eriksen said.

For more information on obtaining a CDL contact Washington State Department of Licensing, or Western Pacific Trucking School of Oregon at (888) 565-0203.

November 5, 2012 at 6:46am

New “Medal of Honor” edition attempts homefront twist

Mega game company Electronic Arts (EA) released the latest edition in its "Medal of Honor" franchise - "Medal of Honor: Warfighter," October 23. The game brings players back to the story of the popular "Preacher" character, who was introduced in 2010 when the game's battles moved from World War II to present-day Afghanistan.

However, the game's creators took on a new challenge this time around by including plotlines that turn attention to home front issues military often face following frequent, lengthy deployments.

The game's promotional materials describe the story arc as follows:

"(Preacher) returns home to find his family torn apart from years of combat deployment. Trying to pick up the pieces and salvage what remains of his marriage, Preacher is reminded of what he's fighting for - family"

The gaming community's response has been, well, confused.

"This is an awesome game, but more family focused? I don't think so," said Staff Sgt. Jake Flores, who works at the Madigan Healthcare System. "It's a cross between Call of Duty and regular Medal of Honor. It's the same as any other shooter game I've played."

Flores is not alone in dismissing creators' attempts at creating a family dynamic. On MTV.com's GEEK! blog, reviewer Clint Mize writes that game designers failed at creating empathy for the character's family issues.

"It tries to play the empathy card, but it all comes off a little too forced," he writes. "You can't just tell me that I should feel anything for my robot family when there is no connection built up to even form that relationship in-game."

Despite the additions to the storyline, it is still "squarely a first-person shooter type of game," said EA spokesman Peter Nguyen in an Army Times article days prior to the game's release.

So while the game might not be delivering the emotional impact EA intended just yet, the wheels have been put in motion to create a broader scope of what a Soldier's life entails, both back home and downrange. 

Retailing for $59.99, "Medal of Honor: Warfighter," is available in stores and online at www.medalofhonor.com.

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