Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: 'Special Report' (10) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 10

November 5, 2013 at 10:56am

JBLM commander Col. Charles Hodges to speak at South Sound Military and Communities Partnership Forum

Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr. took command of Joint Base Lewis-McChord Aug. 7 during a ceremony. Photo credit: Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord

Col. Charles Hodges, the commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, will be the keynote speaker at a 2-and-a-half-hour forum in Tacoma Thursday, Nov. 14 about  the challenges facing the military base and the region.

Hodges' 30-minute talk is titled, "Realization: Local impacts of the sequestration and the draw down."

After Hodges' speech, a panel that includes city council members from Lakewood and Lacey and a regional director will discus solutions to I-5 traffic through JBLM, which is often in gridlock at peak commuter times.

Read more...

July 9, 2013 at 10:19am

Reviewing "Starting Strong": Episode 6 - ROTC training

"Starting Strong" episode 6 host Staff Sgt. Kristen King. Photo courtesy of goarmy.com

AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE U.S. ARMY'S "ONE MOS AT A TIME" REALITY SHOW >>>

Episode 6 of the Army reality show "Starting Strong" - which allows civilians to have a one-week tryout in a specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) before deciding whether or not to enlist - examines what it takes to make it through Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) training. Rose Fox, a possible ROTC cadet about to enter college, gets to first try out a week in the U.S. Army with ROTC training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Fox, a potential recruit from South Highlands, Calif. was sent to JBLM to see if she has what it takes to be an Army officer. After a week of training, will she decide to become U.S. Army Strong?

"Leadership, it means causing others to do great things," said the show's host, Staff Sgt. Kristen King, as she introduces the audience to this week's episode. "Whether it's taking a hill or freeing a nation, that's what being an officer in the U.S. Army is all about."

Fox, an 18-year-old expert gymnast, wants a good, stable job and education benefits. Her parents fully support the decision to enlist, and actually talk at length about the education benefits that the Army could provide for their daughter.

Read more...

July 1, 2013 at 11:04am

Reviewing "Starting Strong": Episode 5 - Combat Engineer/Sapper, Part 2

"Starting Strong" episode 4 host Staff Sgt. Kristen King. Photo courtesy of goarmy.com

AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE U.S. ARMY'S "ONE MOS AT A TIME" REALITY SHOW >>>

Episode 5 of the Army reality show "Starting Strong" - which allows civilians to have a one-week tryout in a specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) before deciding whether or not to enlist - is still tailing Frank Adams, a potential recruit from Edison, N.J., at Ft. Bragg, N.C. as he discovers what it takes to be a combat engineer, or sapper. Will the 23-year-old landscaper enlist and become Army Strong or heed the warnings of his parents and go back home?

"The combat engineer or sapper is one of the most physically demanding specialties in the U.S. Army," show host Staff Sgt. Kristen King said in a clip from last week's episode. "Last time, our prospective recruit found out that the road to becoming a sapper is long and rough."

After reviewing the ups and downs of Adams' first experience as a sapper, this week's episode shifts right into the next phase of the needed skills for the MOS: water operations.

Last week, Adams struggled and couldn't complete his poncho raft - used to transport materials during a water crossing - on time, and his battle buddies paid the price with a heavy dose of flutter kick exercises.

Read more...

Filed under: Video, Special Report,

June 18, 2013 at 1:05pm

DoD directed sequestration and civilian furlough effects on Madigan

It's an ugly word, one that only Washington, D.C. could come up with. But for many at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, it will be an even uglier reality.

The furlough cuts that resulted from the inability of Congress and the White House to compromise during the 2011 debt-limit standoff will officially hit Madigan Army Medial Center Monday, July 8. The DoD directives, causing longer wait times, through Sept. 30, will impact all services.

The McChord Medical, Internal medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN, Radiology and Madigan's Laboratory, will remain open during the week, but patients may experience longer wait times due to reduced staffing.

Patients will have more time with their smartphones at Madigan pharmacies. Madigan's Outpatient Pharmacy will close Saturdays July 13-Sept. 28. The Mini-Mall Pharmacy will close Tuesdays July 9-Sept. 24. The drive-through window will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

TGIF won't apply to Madigan Family Medicine, including Okubo and Winder clinics. From July 12-Sept. 27 those offices will be closed.

The Allergy/Immunology Clinic will nix Friday walk-in vaccinations and shots.

Audiology Clinic will not listen to walk-in hearing aid repairs Mondays or Fridays.

Orthotics will ironically not allow walk-ins or issue orthotic supplies on Fridays.

Sadly, the Wound Care Clinics will not take walk-ins Tuesdays or Fridays, with longer wait times Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Even the Provost Marshal offices will be closed Fridays July 12-Sept. 27.

Obviously, Madigan is sick about these changes. The Regional Appointment Center will still take calls at 1.800.404.4506 and Madigan's Emergency Room will be fully operational 24/7.

June 18, 2013 at 8:17am

Reviewing "Starting Strong": Episode 3 - Air and Missile Defense at JBLM

"Starting Strong" episode 3 host Staff Sgt. Kristen King. Photo courtesy of goarmy.com

AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE U.S. ARMY'S "ONE MOS AT A TIME" REALITY SHOW

Episode 3 of the Army reality show "Starting Strong" - which allows civilians to have a one-week tryout in a specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) before deciding whether or not to enlist - may have aired on Father's Day, but that didn't stop it from highlighting a female recruit. This week's episode shows some of the essential functions of an Air and Missile Defense (AMD) crewmember (14S) as camera and crew on Joint Base Lewis-McChord follow Courtney Strange to see if she has the skills and desire to be Army Strong.

"An Army on the ground has to defend against an attack from the air," the show's host, Staff Sgt. Kristen King, said as she explained why an air and missile defense MOS exists.

Strange, a 22-year-old newlywed waitress from Columbia, Md., wants a good, stable job so she can raise a family.

"I think in joining the Army, I would learn a new trade and further my education," she said.

Her husband is concerned about his new wife joining the Army and potentially getting hurt, but he supports her.

Read more...

June 10, 2013 at 11:11am

Reviewing "Starting Strong": Episode 2 - Forward Observer/Fire Support Specialist

"Starting Strong" episode 2 host Staff Sgt. Kristen King. Photo courtesy of goarmy.com

AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE U.S. ARMY'S "ONE MOS AT A TIME" >>>

This week's episode of the Army reality show Starting Strong, which allows civilians to have a 1-week tryout in a specific Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) before deciding whether or not to enlist, is focused around an integral part of any combat line: the Forward Observer.

The Forward Observer - or Fire Support Specialist, MOS designation 13F - is responsible for providing invaluable intelligence to various field artillery teams. This week's episode follows Erich, a potential recruit from Vancouver, Wash. who visits Joint Base Lewis-McChord to see if he has the skills and the desire to be Army Strong.

"In combat, troops get vital support from artillery fire power, but when targets are out of sight, artilleries rely on a skilled soldier closer to the enemy to direct their fire," said the show's host, Staff Sgt. Kristen King, as she described the importance and function of this MOS.

Erich, a 27-year-old plumber from Vancouver, Wash., who loves to do anything with a board under his feet, has considered several branches of the military, including the Coast Guard, Army and Navy.

He's a multi-faceted individual, like many other servicemembers, and takes great pride in his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. He also has a private pilot's license and is a trained Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). 

Unlike the servicemember in last week's "Starting Strong" episode, Erich's wife, Jaime Balke, supported the possibility of her husband joining the military.

"I think it would be a really great opportunity for both of us," she said. "Obviously it would be a life change for me and you."

While he was relieved that his wife was open to his enlistment, Erich still spoke about the difficulty of leaving her during deployments.

His training started right here at JBLM. His mentor was Staff Sgt. Van Forbes, who has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan twice. His two battle buddies were Pvt. Steven Perez and Sgt. Christopher Sheffield.

Erich's training started with a Map Reading Class, a Terrain Sketch Class and a Call for Fire Simulator class to train, prepare and simulate the duties of a typical Forward Observer.

He struggled the first day, as expected, by exceeding his allotted mission time by .44 seconds.

This struggle, like most, would be easier to overcome with continued practice and training.

After sampling the mental challenges of being a Forward Observer, Erich got to sample the physical requirements of an MOS that requires running alongside the toughest Infantrymen.

His physical test took place on JBLM's Infantry Obstacle Course.

"I don't want to break him, but I don't want him to quit," Forbes said during Erich's physical training.  "He better not quit."

After hitting his limitations wall, Erich, surprisingly, started to mouth off to his Army trainers.

"Good order and discipline is paramount in the Army," one of the trainers told him.  "Bad discipline is infectious."

Erich's final tests took place both during the day and at night during a live-fire training mission, during which he had a real mortar team under his command.

The mission showed off the vital tasks of Forward Observers - determining their own observation point, determining the target location and guiding indirect fire.

When Erich ordered his first strike from the M1129 Mortar Carrier several miles away, he came up with a splash-out, or miss.

But the observer's job isn't finished until the target is.

After multiple tries, Erich finally reached the right coordinates and got to command, "Fire for effect," erasing the mission target.

After his training and before making a decision about joining the military, Erich had an opportunity to talk with a former servicemember who had transitioned to a civilian career. He also saw his wife and learned about some of the perks of being a soldier, such as Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), on-post housing and The Bistro Restaurant.

However, after his week-long training, Erich's decision was not to enlist.

"I learned a lot about myself and my limits throughout this week," he said.

Follow up on Erich

Although he didn't join the Army, Erich eventually joined the Coast Guard in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Ed. Note: Nearly two years ago actor Ricky Schroder and his production company began filming the reality show Starting Strong, which allows prospective Army recruits to try out military occupational specialties (MOS) for a week, helping them decide whether or not to join. Schroder spent four weeks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The 10-week series launched Sunday, broadcasting in select markets (not Western Washington), and on Youtube. Northwest Military asked Gary Lott - marketing, social media and multimedia specialist at Joint Services Support Washington National Guard - to review each episode.

LINK: Review of Starting Strong, Episode 1

LINK: Feature story on Starting Strong filmmaker Ricky Schroder

June 6, 2013 at 6:44pm

Rejected joint combat camouflage uniform ideas

Hmmmm: Col. William E. Cole, a project manager with PM Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment, showcases a ghillie suit in the "MultiCam" camouflage pattern during a media event Sept. 16, 2009 at the Pentagon. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army

The House Armed Services Committee voted June 5 to end service-specific camouflage in an amendment that would push the military toward creating joint combat uniforms by 2018. The House adopted the proposal by Illinois Rep. Bill Enyart - a former adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard and a retired veteran of both the Air Force and Army - after discovering the millions of dollars the services have spent to field camouflage patterns that focus more on creating a visual brand than effective concealment for the battlefield. In fact, in a year's time, military service leaders have introduced seven new patterns - three universal, two woodland and two desert.

In an effort to assist military with picking one camouflage for the entire U.S. armed forces, Northwest Military presents camouflage we pray won't be adopted by the military.

Honey Boo Boo's Mama June, wearing a camouflage wedding dress, married her Sugar Bear last month. We have no idea what this means, but ironically wish we wouldn't have seen it. (Thanks Facebook)

Read more...

Filed under: Special Report,

June 3, 2013 at 9:08pm

Reviewing "Starting Strong": Our take on the U.S. Army's reality show

"Starting Strong" Episode One: Sgt. 1st Class Will Trost tells Julian Chavez how to shoot a M240H gas-operated machine gun.

Ed. Note: Nearly two years ago actor Ricky Schroder and his production company began filming the reality show Starting Strong, which allows prospective Army recruits to try out military occupational specialties (MOS) for a week, helping them decide whether or not to join. Schroder spent four weeks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The 10-week series launched Sunday, broadcasting in select markets (not Western Washington), and on Youtube. Northwest Military asked Gary Lott - marketing, social media and multimedia specialist at Joint Services Support Washington National Guard - to review each episode.

He agreed. Sunday, Lott watched Episode One "Avionic Mechanic" of Starting Strong - which followed a Portland Community College student's explorations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Lott filed the report below.

Julian Chavez is a 19 year old who likes soccer, wants to serve his country and be part of something much bigger.

His decision to consider enlisting in the military is reasonable. One of the hardest parts of making the decision is knowing his girlfriend and family members don't want him to leave. There's probably a large majority of servicemembers and spouses out there that know exactly what that's like.

Sgt. 1st Class Will Trost, an airborne-qualified platoon sergeant with the 4th Squadron, 6th Attack Reconnaissance Regiment, mentored Chavez throughout his experience on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Trost has 10 years in the service, with five deployments to Iraq under his belt, an Army Commendation Medal and a Valorous Unit Award.

Read more...

May 10, 2013 at 1:15pm

Flash mob busts out at Madigan's medical mall

Hospital employees dance to the popular song "Gangnam Style" at Madigan Army Medical Center, May 6. Photo credit: Sgt. Sarah Enos/5th MPAD

The folks at the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment on Joint Base Lewis-McChord are, well, mobile. Very mobile. And quick. They have to be quick; it's in their mission statement:  "Its mission is to quickly disseminate command information through high quality video and print coverage to media outlets around the world."

The 5th MPAD does an awesome job covering events and disseminating the information.

The unit's latest dispatch centers on Madigan Army Medical Center's National Nurses Week - specifically a hospital employee flash mob that busted out "Gangnam Style" May 6 at the medical mall. Of course the 5th MPAD was there. Of course Sgt. Sarah Enos of 5th MPAD snapped photos.

Read more...

May 6, 2013 at 11:03am

"60 Minutes" piece on traumatic brain injury and the military

Traumatic brain injury is one of the largest injuries suffered in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

It's a condition once known as being "punch drunk" because it affected boxers who suffered multiple blows to the head. In the National Football League, head injuries are a growing occupational hazard for the hard-hitting sport because players are bigger, faster and more powerful than ever.

More often than not, the head injuries suffered during military conflict make the blow pro athletes take seem like a slap in the face. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant health issue that affects service members and veterans during times of both peace and war. The high rate of TBI and blast-related concussion events resulting from current combat operations directly impacts the health and safety of individual service members and subsequently the level of unit readiness and troop retention.

According to a 60 Minutes report "invisible wounds of war," 250,000 members of the Armed Forces have suffered concussions or much worse in the last decade during wars. It's an important piece for TBI patients, veterans and their families and worthy of viewing.

LINK: Read the 60 Minutes report text

Filed under: Health, Special Report, Veterans,

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