Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

After completing a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations in support of maritime theater security operations and flying missions supporting Operation Inherent Resolve over the skies of Iraq and Syria, the ships and squadrons of the USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group returned safely home.

Thousands of friends and family members lined the piers of Naval Station Norfolk to welcome home more than 6,000 strike group Sailors! More than 300 Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aircrew flew home to cheering, flag-waving crowds in Norfolk, Oceana, Mayport and Whidbey Island.

While deployed, CVW-8 and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) launched 11,437 sorties, completed 1,924 combat missions. With flawless execution the aviators successfully delivered 1,717 pieces of ordnance on target with devastating lethality. By the end of the deployment, our aviators logged an amazing 30,873 flight hours and 7,868 arrested landings. These impressive numbers set post-Desert Storm records for any CVN/CVW team.

This deployment is yet another example of the pivotal role naval aviation plays in our national defense. As the U.S. Navy’s ‘Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority’ states, we have the mission to “conduct PROMPT and SUSTAINED combat power from and at sea, necessary to fight and win decisively in contested and denied environments against our enemies.” That is exactly what the men and women of CVW-8 and the strike group accomplished on deployment. The team delivered a devastating blow to the capabilities of ISIS, allowing our partners on the battlefield to employ a strategic initiative to retake large swaths of land in Northern Iraq and Syria.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) operate in formation during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. The United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise demonstrates interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

I have written several blog posts about how our carriers benefit from the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). OFRP is designed to maximize our return on training and maintenance investments, to maintain Sailor quality of life and ensure units are fully employable and deployable. By the time the strike group deployed, it was at the peak of readiness and this was clearly demonstrated through their record-setting accomplishments.

With USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) now at Norfolk Naval Shipyard to begin her maintenance phase, the first phase of the four-part OFRP cycle, George H.W. Bush enters the post deployment portion of its sustainment phase to maintain her combat readiness in order to be prepared to deploy fully ready combat forces if required by our Nation.

While George H.W. Bush is in her sustainment phase, CVW-8 will also be in sustainment. For the air wing, this means several underway periods to maintain their carrier qualification requirements, maintain their aircraft at optimum performance levels and provide continuous training in combat flight operations and maintenance.

Meeting these standards will allow CVW-8 to effectively remain combat ready around the clock in the event the president of the United States decides they need to surge an additional carrier strike group.

This will be a challenge, but I have every confidence that the George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group team will not only meet but also exceed our leadership’s standards and expectations.

Finally, I send my strongest congratulations to entire carrier strike group for your tireless efforts and commitment to the Navy’s standard of excellence. Bravo Zulu, well done and welcome home!

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the "Tomcatters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 celebrate as the squadron flies over the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). The ship and its carrier strike group were transiting home from a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage/Released)


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Third Optimized Fleet Response Plan Carrier Strike Group Returns Home

USS Harry S. Truman Returns to Norfolk following Early Completion of Maintenance and Sea Trials

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By Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

This week, Naval Station Norfolk welcomed USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) back to the waterfront, early. Truman returned Tuesday, two days ahead of schedule from her Planned Incremental Availability (PIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) after a very successful five days of underway evolutions during Sea Trials.

NORFOLK (JULY 25, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), handle mooring lines from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), as Harry S. Truman pulls into Naval Station Norfolk after completing sea trials (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica Paulauskas/Released)
NORFOLK (JULY 25, 2017) Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), handle mooring lines from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), as Harry S. Truman pulls into Naval Station Norfolk after completing sea trials (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica Paulauskas/Released)
NORFOLK (July 25, 2017) The superstructures of the aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), right, and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are close together during Harry S. Truman's transit into port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)
NORFOLK (July 25, 2017) The superstructures of the aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), right, and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are close together during Harry S. Truman’s transit into port. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anthony Flynn/Released)

For Truman’s crew and her shipyard partners, the conclusion of this maintenance period signifies the completion of 10 months of teambuilding, hard work and coordination between workforces, ultimately making the ship better today than it was when it first arrived in the yards back in September 2016.

A new pier, hundreds of additional craftsmen and efforts in modernization of shipyard equipment at NNSY have vastly contributed to the efficiency of work performed by shipyard personnel. Investments made by NNSY in more technologically advanced machinery have improved the shipyard’s productivity factor by reducing numerous job completion times from days to mere hours. For example, new, fully automated pipe-bending and gasket-cutting machines have greatly cut-down repair timelines and helped to contribute to Truman’s early completion of her scheduled maintenance.

Completing PIA early, however, was just the first step in preparing Truman for future operations. Sea Trials tested the ability of the crew and ship to operate at sea and both performed beyond expectations. During the five-day underway period, the CVN-75 team conducted more than 300 hours of shipboard evolutions including: small boat recoveries, testing Aqueous Film-Forming Foam sprinkler systems, making high speed turns, running its steam catapults, and holding a simulated replenishment-at-sea alongside USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE 13).

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 21, 2017) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the "Red Hawks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 2 prepares to land on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as the ship transits out to sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rebekah Watkins/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 21, 2017) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the “Red Hawks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 2 prepares to land on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) as the ship transits out to sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rebekah Watkins/Released)

These accomplishments are of staggering importance, not just for the crew aboard Truman, but for the Navy as a whole. It is yet another success story in our implementation of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). Having the maintenance availabilities of our carriers completed early ensures our forces get the maximum training repetitions and sets (Reps and Sets) necessary to enable our carrier strike groups to be fully combat ready to deploy on time.

Truman’s early completion of its maintenance availability and its successful performance during sea trials means that this capital warship is one step closer to doing what carriers do: conducting prompt and sustained combat operations from the sea. This isn’t just a win for Truman. It’s a win for our Navy and a win for our country. It means our carrier force, and our fleet as a whole, is more ready to deliver sea control and combat striking power anywhere, anytime our nation requires us to do so.

When you look at our waterfront today, you can’t help but see the present and future represented by our carrier fleet. For the present, look at USS Abraham Lincoln, that spent the last four years completing her midlife refueling and is now back in the fleet and training for deployment. USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been the workhorse of the waterfront since returning, Dec. 31, 2016, from her combat deployment, keeping our carrier pilots current by launching and recovering thousands of aircraft throughout her seven-month sustainment phase. The future can be seen in the form of USS Gerald R. Ford, our newest and most technologically advanced carrier as well as USS George Washington, which is ready to begin her midlife refueling this August.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (June 23, 2017) An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the "Blacklions" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 is fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 1,000 pound bombs aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (June 23, 2017) An F/A-18F Super Hornet attached to the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 is fully loaded with 10 GBU-32 1,000 pound bombs aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Hank Gettys/Released)

With USS George H. W. Bush wrapping up an extremely successful combat deployment that supported the liberation of Mosul, our carriers continue to demonstrate the maneuverability, adaptability and strength of the United States Navy. And with Truman’s early return to the waterfront, our Navy will continue to protect America’s prosperity and security far from our Nation’s shorelines and face the future with the same pride and determination that we have displayed since Congress approved the construction of our first six frigates.


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USS Harry S. Truman Returns to Norfolk following Early Completion of Maintenance and Sea Trials

Team Navy Competes at 2017 DOD Warrior Games

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Welcome to Navy Live blog coverage of Team Navy at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Chicago.

Team Navy is comprised of 36 Sailors and four Coast Guardsmen who are competing June 30 to July 8 against other military teams to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball.

This is first time the Navy has hosted the Games and is the first time they have been held in a public venue since the DoD became involved in hosting the Games in 2010.

Roster Sports Schedule

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

Follow this blog throughout the Games for the latest on Team Navy.

Day 6 (July 6)

Cycling

Day 5 (July 5)

Field

Day 4 (July 3)

Archery

Day 3 (July 2)

Track

Day 2 (July 1)

Opening Ceremony

Warrior Games Opening Ceremony

It’s time for the 2017 Warrior Games in Chicago opening ceremony with Jon Stewart. 39 Sailors are participating in the Paralympic-style completion for wounded, ill and injured service members in Chicago. Go Navy!

Posted by U.S. Navy on Saturday, July 1, 2017

CHICAGO (July 1, 2017) Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and his wife Dana Richardson cheer during the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games’ opening ceremony at Soldier Field in Chicago. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Chief Elliott Fabrizio/Released)
CHICAGO (July 1, 2017) Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and his wife Dana Richardson cheer during the Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games’ opening ceremony at Soldier Field in Chicago. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Chief Elliott Fabrizio/Released)

Sitting Volleyball

LIVE NOW: Team Navy competing against United States Air Force in sitting volleyball at Warrior Games, a Paralympic-style competition, against other military branches, the United Kingdom and Australia for wounded, ill and injured service members. Go Navy!

Posted by U.S. Navy on Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rifle

Day 1 (June 30)

Team Navy Kicks Off 2017 Warrior Games

Warrior Games Day 1

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games got underway today in Chicago.Watch for a look at Team Navy’s competition in shooting, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball on Day 1.

Posted by U.S. Navy on Friday, June 30, 2017

Team Navy kicked off the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games June 30 in Chicago, Illinois, with competition in shooting, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

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Archery

Shooting

Wheelchair Basketball

About Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program

The mission of the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program is to deliver year-round competitive and recreation opportunities for wounded, ill or seriously injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen. Adaptive sports — athletic activities that are modified to meet the abilities of injured or ill individuals — are essential to the recuperation of our wounded warriors. All enrollees in Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor are encouraged to make athletics a key component of their recovery and rehabilitation plans. The proven and lasting benefits of adaptive sports and reconditioning activities include higher self-esteem, lower stress levels and fewer secondary medical conditions.

Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor hosts a series of adaptive athletic reconditioning camps, provides information relative to recreational opportunities and facilitates enrollees’ participation in the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games. Non-medical care managers and recovery care coordinators, along with the transition coordinators, are encouraged to brief all recovering and transitioning service members about adaptive sports opportunities.

Once registered for the sports program, Sailors and Coast Guardsmen are provided with information on all athletic opportunities, including the annual trials where athletes can compete for a spot on Team Navy in the DoD Warrior Games. Participants in the trials include active-duty service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries; serious illnesses; traumatic brain injuries; amputations; visual impairment; and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Athletes possessing professionalism, team spirit and the best qualifying times and/or scores are selected to compete on Team Navy in the DoD Warrior Games. The DoD Warrior Games represent the culmination of participation in structured adaptive sports and reconditioning activities of wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans throughout their recovery by encouraging participation in physical and cognitive activities, inspiring physical fitness, mental strength and peer support, and encouraging new opportunities for growth and achievement.


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Team Navy Competes at 2017 DOD Warrior Games

Surface Warfare Week: Vital Education Tool for Our Nation’s Future Officers

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By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces

There are many constants in the life of surface warfare officers: getting underway on a ship, making sure our Sailors and ships are ready to deploy, and every summer, hosting midshipmen from our nation’s universities.

Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps units from around the nation participate in yearly summer training. I believe investing fleet time in training our future leaders is extremely important to extending our legacy of maritime dominance for years to come. Perhaps one of most influential events we conduct is “Core Training for Midshipmen” (CORTRAMID) and “Professional Training for Midshipmen” (PROTRAMID).

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Feb. 13, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) fires a 5-inch lightweight gun during a live fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Feb. 13, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) fires a 5-inch lightweight gun during a live fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/Released)

I still remember my midshipman summer experience 37 years later like it was yesterday. And what I learned then, I still use today. As it happens, during my summer training as a midshipman, I had the opportunity to meet one of our great naval leaders, Vice Adm. “Hank” Mustin, aboard the frigate USS Miller. He spoke to the officers in the ship’s wardroom and he left me with a lasting memory. He emphatically stated, “the United States Navy exists to control the sea.” His words are as applicable today as they were decades ago.

Midshipmen 3rd class Keegan Kush, from Omaha, Neb., participates in a sea and anchor detail aboard the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).
Midshipmen 3rd class Keegan Kush, from Omaha, Neb., participates in a sea and anchor detail aboard the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

CORTRAMID is designed to educate ROTC midshipmen going into their sophomore year of college about fleet operations, while PROTRAMID is focused on rising juniors at the Naval Academy. Both month-long training blocks consist of the same curriculum, one week in each of the major communities: surface warfare, submarine force, naval aviation and the Marine Corps. The major distinction setting this training apart from all others is that once it’s completed and the midshipmen return to their schools, they are required to sign the five-year commitment to continue forward in their commissioning programs. No pressure!

On Monday, we’ll kick off the 2017 CORTRAMID/PROTRAMID season and I wholeheartedly believe this training is vital for these future naval officers. The month they spend with the fleet sets the framework for their perception of each community and hopefully sheds some light on the reality of each as well. For the surface warfare community, it’s our duty, and an honor, to help teach them about what it is we do. We accomplish the orientation during Surface Warfare Week, more commonly called Surface Warfare Officer Week. I want it to be known that SWO Week is, if nothing else, an essential education tool that allows midshipmen to get their questions answered, in operational environments, prior to service selection.

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) sails alongside USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as part of a strait transit demonstration during the aircraft carrier's Sustainment Exercise off the coast of Southern California, April 14. Fort Worth, a semi-planing, mono-hull vessel, is a fast, agile, and mission-focused platform designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. The ship is designed to operate in hostile near-shore environments, known as "the littorals", and to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. Fort Worth is the second of the Freedom variant of LCS. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Phil Ladouceur/Released)
The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) sails alongside USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as part of a strait transit demonstration during the aircraft carrier’s Sustainment Exercise off the coast of Southern California. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Phil Ladouceur/Released)

It’s my desire for them to be as informed as possible before making this life altering decision. I cannot – and we shouldn’t – make the choice for them. Everyone has their place in our great Navy and while we pride ourselves on diversity, we need to be mindful that not everyone is meant to be a surface warfare officer and that is absolutely all right. I want each and every midshipman to choose the community that is best for him or her; to do what they love and be the best officer they can be in service to our great Navy. We just need to ensure that the time they spent learning about the SWO community is educational and represents the broad spectrum of what our community has to offer them upon commissioning.

We achieve this goal through a designed program that not only gets midshipmen underway on multiple platforms of ships, but also integrates the training with non-conventional pipelines like riverine squadrons and naval beach group and takes them to the Basic Division Officer Course where they will receive formal training as junior officers once commissioned and formally assigned to the SWO community. We also provide interactions with junior officers and chief petty officers from the waterfront who are currently stationed aboard surface ships. These active duty leaders mentor small groups through the week’s schedule and a SWO Week competition; most importantly, they answer questions about our great community. We wrap-up the week in a more relaxed environment, a barbecue social where other junior officers and chiefs from the waterfront come to support and answer any last queries about surface warfare.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 23, 2015) Ensign Joseph Lillie, from Lakewood, Ohio, stands officer of the deck watch at the radar console aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). Laboon is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Desmond Parks/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 23, 2015) Ensign Joseph Lillie stands officer of the deck watch at the radar console aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Desmond Parks/Released)

For general guidance, I can tell the midshipmen that the surface warfare community remains committed to putting the most advanced ships in the hands of the most capable Sailors. Among all warfare communities, they will be the first to hit the deck plates, leading Sailors almost immediately following commissioning. Furthermore, our junior officers have the rewarding experience of driving the world’s most capable ships and employing our most sophisticated weapons systems. When midshipmen select surface warfare, they will start out on their first ship having more responsibility than their civilian counterparts might ever have.

Our community is on the leading edge of adopting personnel policies that are increasingly rewarding for the most talented officers. Our officers have unique opportunities to pursue graduate level education, intern at some of the most prestigious companies, and train to become an expert tactician in the fleet. The officers that join the surface community will have the satisfaction of leading Sailors in the midst of a rapidly changing maritime security environment.

EVERETT, Wash. (Nov. 1, 2016) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during his visit to Naval Station Everett.. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano/Released)
EVERETT, Wash. (Nov. 1, 2016) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during his visit to Naval Station Everett. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano/Released)

I truly believe it’s the experience and perspective gained throughout this orientation week that allows us to leave an indelible impression upon each midshipman as we send them back to their commissioning sources better informed about the fleet and more knowledgeable in the process. The talent we attract now is tomorrow’s leadership of the surface force. I sincerely thank all of the units and personnel that will help make CORTRAMID/PROTRAMID 2017 our best summer yet for surface warfare education. I look forward to meeting some of the next generation of naval officers, include those who will select surface warfare.


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Surface Warfare Week: Vital Education Tool for Our Nation’s Future Officers

12 examples of Air Force holiday cheer

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By Sarah Swan

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Staff at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force searched the archives and found some examples of holiday celebrations and greetings from Airmen through the decades. As Christmas approaches, we hope you enjoy looking through these artifacts. Please keep our military members, especially those who are away from their loved ones, in your thoughts this holiday season and throughout the year.

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12 examples of Air Force holiday cheer

TRICARE Expands Assistance to Reduce Tobacco Use

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Jonathan Barkley waves several signs to nearby drivers and joggers during the inaugural Great American Smokeout Fun Walk/Run Nov. 17. The course was a 3.36-mile trail around Nuupia Ponds, ending near Pollock Field. The signs depict the toxic chemicals inside a single cigarette and the diseases caused by long-term smoking. Photo by Christine Cabalo

Jonathan Barkley waves several signs to nearby drivers and joggers during the inaugural Great American Smokeout Fun Walk/Run Nov. 17. The course was a 3.36-mile trail around Nuupia Ponds, ending near Pollock Field. The signs depict the toxic chemicals inside a single cigarette and the diseases caused by long-term smoking. Photo by Christine Cabalo

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

The Defense Department is committed to helping troops, their families and all beneficiaries of the TRICARE health care plan reduce their reliance on tobacco products, a TRICARE official said here today.

During an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Paul Fitzpatrick, TRICARE’s “Quit Tobacco” program manager, said TRICARE has increased tobacco cessation aid for beneficiaries.

Tobacco cessation medications and prescription medications now are available to TRICARE patients through military treatment facilities, pharmacies, and TRICARE’s mail-order pharmacy program.

“And we’re very excited to be able to offer these cessation aids to help people quit smoking [and] quit dipping,” Fitzpatrick said.

A Code of Federal Regulations final rule, effective March 29, authorizes the health care organization to implement a more comprehensive program.

“The DOD is committed to creating and maintaining a healthy fighting force,” Fitzpatrick said. “We know that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines use tobacco at a higher rate than the American public.”

Fitzpatrick, who is a retired Army officer, noted that troops’ tobacco use is at a 5- to 10-percent higher rate than that of the public, depending on the age demographic.

“TRICARE estimates that over $500 million are devoted to tobacco-related illnesses and diseases. And those are not just the long-term illnesses like cancer and emphysema. It also includes the short-term consequences of tobacco use, which include an increased number of sick days and longer healing time for those who are smokers and dippers, he said.

“With promotion of a healthier lifestyle, we expect that more people will want to quit smoking,” Fitzpatrick said.

TRICARE now offers Zyban and Chantix, Fitzpatrick said, as well as a whole host of nicotine replacement therapies, including traditional patches, gums, lozenges, nasal spray and inhalers, which now are available through prescription at no cost to the TRICARE beneficiary.

“The development of access to pharmaceutical drugs has been in the works for a couple of years now,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are adding these medications to our host of cessation resources that TRICARE has had in place for a number of years.”

Tobacco cessation medications are available to all beneficiaries age 18 and older in the continental United States. “The prescription medications are currently not available through the mail-order pharmacy overseas, but may be available through the military treatment facility pharmacy, if they carry [them],” Fitzpatrick said.

TRICARE’s tobacco cessation aids also include a 24/7 chat service via instant messaging, toll-free telephone coaching assistance available around the clock, and face-to-face counseling with a certified tobacco cessation counselor that can arranged through a primary care provider.

“Tobacco cessation is very important to the Department of Defense, because we are looking to build and maintain a healthier fighting force,” he said. “And we know that tobacco use is a negative indicator to a healthy force. The DOD wants to be, not a follower, but a leader in reducing tobacco use in the military.”

Fitzpatrick also talked about Operation “Live Well,” DOD’s holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle and healthy living.

“It addresses not only tobacco cessation, but [also] the challenges and threats [of] obesity among our fighting force and our family members, as well as good nutrition,” he said. “Operation Live Well is a program that looks at the entire person and their healthy lifestyle.”

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Obama Proclaims April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month

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File photo: President Barak Obama. Defense Department photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

File photo: President Barak Obama Defense Department photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

President Barack Obama today proclaims April “National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.” He reminds the nation that sexual violence is an affront to human dignity that cannot be tolerated and calls on Americans to offer their support to survivors of such crimes.

The proclamation reads:

In the last 20 years, our nation has made meaningful progress toward addressing sexual assault. Where victims were once left without recourse, laws have opened a path to safety and justice; where a culture of fear once kept violence hidden, survivors are more empowered to speak out and get help.

But even today, too many women, men, and children suffer alone or in silence, burdened by shame or unsure anyone will listen. This month, we recommit to changing that tragic reality by stopping sexual assault before it starts and ensuring victims get the support they need.

Sexual violence is an affront to human dignity and a crime no matter where it occurs. While rape and sexual assault affect all communities, those at the greatest risk are children, teens, and young women. Nearly one in five women will be a victim of sexual assault during college.

For some groups, the rates of violence are even higher — Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience sexual assault as the general population. Moreover, we know rape and sexual assault are consistently underreported, and that the physical and emotional trauma they leave behind can last for years.

With Vice President Joe Biden’s leadership, we have made preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors a top priority. Earlier this month, I was proud to sign the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which renews and strengthens the law that first made it possible for our country to address sexual assault in a comprehensive way. The act preserves critical services like rape crisis centers, upholds protections for immigrant victims, gives state and tribal law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, and breaks down barriers that keep lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims from getting help. It also expands funding for sexual assault nurse examiner programs and sexual assault response teams, helping states deliver justice for survivors and hold offenders accountable.

Just as we keep fighting sexual assault in our neighborhoods, we must also recommit to ending it in our military — because no one serving our country should be at risk of assault by a fellow service member.

Where this crime does take place, it cannot be tolerated; victims must have access to support, and offenders must face the consequences of their actions. Members of our armed forces and their families can learn more about the resources available to them at 1-877-995-5247 and www.SafeHelpline.org.

All Americans can play a role in changing the culture that enables sexual violence. Each of us can take action by lifting up survivors we know and breaking the silence surrounding rape and sexual assault. To get involved, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/1is2many.

Together, our nation is moving forward in the fight against sexual assault. This month, let us keep working to prevent violence in every corner of America, and let us rededicate ourselves to giving survivors the bright future they deserve.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2013 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.

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Obama Proclaims April Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month