Logistics in Iraq and Afghanistan - A Perspective from the US Army Command and General Staff College - DoD Roundtable

The Army Command and General Staff College at Ft Leavenworth was the site of the Blogger’s Roundtable interview concerning the challenges of logistics in Afghanistan and Iraq. The transportation and supply and re-supply of essential war materials and comforts such as mail and the movement of military personnel had similarities in both theatres and some very different challenges as well! We met with several students of the college with very recent experience in either Iraq, Afghanistan and in some cases both! The CGSC is a selective school for 0-4s (Majors/Lt Commanders) with all the services represented. On this Roundtable call were Army logistics officers, a Navy Lieutenant Commander logistics officer assigned to a SEAL team, a Field Artillery officer and a Reservist dealing with personnel. All had seen the challenges of the logistics routes to theatres on the other side of the globe.

Help for the Stresses of Military Life - FOCUS (Families Over Coming Under Stress) - DoD Roundtable

I have a love for military families! It came from so many years of observing them enjoy life around the globe! Young spouses, children, teenagers, couples, the entire spectrum have a zest for life! For my kids they became the aunts/uncles and cousins that always seemed so far away! The good neighbors that watched our pets while we were on leave. Military kids are not really “brats” but they like that moniker I think. It is a bit edgy! But, they know how to stand for the national anthem and when to be respectful. Military families serve our country in many unique ways and sometimes due to this service they need our help! Today I had the opportunity to discuss a Navy program, Project FOCUS (Families Over Coming Under Stress) developed by Ms. Kirsten Woodward, Director of Family Programs Division, Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) during a DoD Bloggers Roundtable. I must say I was impressed with the assistance this program offers to military families! Identified as a best practice, FOCUS, has been expanded from the Navy into pilot programs at four Air Force and four Army installations. While teaming with contractors from UCLA, FOCUS has served 97,000 parents, children and community leaders at ten Marine installations and eight Navy installations in addition to the pilot sites.

Wordless Wednesday: Wedding Day Bliss... 9 years later













Happy Anniversary to my knight-in-shining armor.  My Soldier.  My Rock.

I love you more every day.

- Leanne

Does the Army have a Problem with Warrior Transition Units? - DoD Roundtable

I think this was one of the most interesting DoD Roundtables in which I have participated as I met with Lt General Eric Schoomaker, the Army Surgeon General and Brigadier General Gary Cheek, Commander, Warrior Transition Command to talk about the Warrior Transition care. The care of wounded warriors (physically, spiritually or emotionally) is always a hot button issue for Americans. The super efforts of the Army to care for their own can sometimes fall victim to easy criticism and of course, some care may need attention to make it even better. It appeared that these two leaders wanted to insure that the care being given was right for the individual soldier!

Angst and Insecurities

There is a bit of teenage-angst in my house right now. *J*, 16 years old, driver's license, girlfriend, soccer, nearly-straight A's, lots of friends from school, three parents that LOVE him, (I'm step-mom),want to give him his space and yet recognize that sometimes too much space isn't good either. He's not quite sure what to do with the raging hormones, the insecurities, the pull between friends, two families, and self.

Mom is a single-mom.  It is just Mom and *J* in that household. *J* is treated a little bit older, I suspect; perhaps more of a confidante. Dad is a dad of three sons and soon to be four, plus his lovely bride (That's me!). The two houses are SO VERY different. Life can't focus around any one-person for any length of time around here. There are schedules to be managed. Multiple sporting events to be attended. Lots of homework to be juggled. Work-schedules to be worked around.  Equality is the name of the game. *J* has every right to feel a little confused about his roots, his place in this great hemisphere of craziness.

Tasty Tuesday: Rhubarb / Strawberry Crunch Reduced Sugar

It is getting to be close to Farmer's Market time, a.k.a. rhubarb time. I am really believe that the snows are behind us. My proof of this is 1 May when the markets open. One can find asparagus and rhubarb. This is living. Both have long stalks that stick up out of the ground that announce "Hey! I made it! Your turn!" So, taking my turn with the rhubarb, I like to pair it with strawberries - totally sweet and sour. And I like my rhubarb to taste a tad sour... not overly sugared.

Rhubarb / Strawberry Crunch welcomes the taste buds to do a spring dance right there in your mouth! Ye haaaa! Bring the kids, because this is a keeper. :) I made this recipe using as little sugar as possible, and I used Splenda brown sugar to lessen the sugar further. A plus when serving to folks with type II diabetes.

Week in Review: Week of April 18 - 24 (Military News)

Here are ten of our most popular military-related articles for the week

MilitaryAvenue.com:

101 Ways to Thank a Military Spouse: Happy Military Spouse Appreciation Day! In honor of the spouses that work so hard on the home-front I've compiled a list of 101 Ways to Thank a Military Spouse!  It is about Respect, Love, Admiration, Appreciation, and a simple Thank You.  Enjoy! ...

Military Spouse Appreciation Day - 2010:  Military Spouse Appreciation Day is the Friday before Mother's Day, May 7, 2010. "The first Military Spouse Day was first celebrated in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the observance to honor the contributions of military spouses. The military now sets aside the Friday before Mother's Day each year to pay tribute to the spouses who play a vital role in the nation's defense." ...

Military Spouse Appreciation Day; May 7, 2010: What are you going to do for our behind the scenes military-spouses; the wives and husbands of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guard? Get your community involved. Perhaps a community day down 'central avenue'. Flowers for military spouses, massages, manicures, free-planners. Each participating store could have their own 'give-away'. These ladies (and men!) need the pampering! Do you need more ideas? Read '101 Ways to Thank a Military Spouse'. Quite a few ideas are business oriented, all of them are spouse-centered. ...

Earth Day 2010:  I will tell you I'm not a 'tree-hugger'. I spend probably too much money on pre-packaged foods. I always seem to forget to bring my own environmentally-friendly bags to stores - even though I do have a few of them. I don't drive an oversized-SUV but my smaller size mini-van isn't exactly the most economical vehicle out there.  But I do care.  I do know that I can make a difference.  I am not going to change the hole in our ozone layer. ...

Faces Behind the Hero: Marine Wife, Ashley: Our Military-Family is made up of all types of people! Young wives, seasoned veterans, "military-brats", all races & nationalities, well-educated, and learning new things each day! Today's Face Behind the Hero is a young Marine Wife, Ashley. Surviving her first deployment and reaching out to meet military-friends. ...

Army to Standardized Service for Special-needs Families:  The U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command recently conducted the second Exceptional Family Member Program Summit to enhance services for family members with special needs.  Officials said the summit is one way Army officials are keeping the promise of the Army Family Covenant. ...

Military Adjusts to Icelandic Volcano’s Ashfall: Ash from an Icelandic volcano continues to wreak havoc with air flights across Europe, including American military flights.  Thousands of commercial and military flights from Ireland to the Ukraine have been cancelled as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which started erupting last week, continues to spew ash.  The American military is making adjustments. The U.S. bases in Mildenhall and Lakenheath, England, and Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany have been affected by the ash plume. ...

Services Improve Diagnosis of Brain Injuries, PTSD: Better understanding of post-combat brain injuries and psychological trauma, coupled with a host of measures to diagnose and treat such disorders, are preventing servicemembers from being unfairly discharged due to undiagnosed conditions, Defense Department officials told Congress members yesterday. ...

Tips: Do you like Free Advertising? Read Some Ideas How!: Don't you like free things? We all do and particularly in a tough economic time.  How about free advertisements for your business in the form of a media article? Do you do anything interesting for the local community or nearby military installation? When the Department of Defense media discovered we had created a new section on the site they wrote a great story about MilitaryAvenue's Answers military connection and sent it worldwide. For Free! ...

Book Recommendations: Military Lifestyle: Here is a selection of books related to the military lifestyle, most are focused on the military spouse with a few books related to 'brats'. Have you read a great military-lifestyle related book? Let us know so that we can add it to our book lists for others to enjoy. ...




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The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

Earth Day – Making Army Boots More Friendly for Our Environment - DoD Roundtable

Earth Day – Making Army Boots More Friendly for Our Environment

It was a beautiful day in Michigan on Earth Day this year! Sunny, 70 degrees, the Redbuds were out in full bloom, the air was fresh, grass was green, we have vegetables in the garden coming up and I was talking to Mr. Tad Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health. We were discussing the Army’s Earth Day activities and their “Army Go Green Initiatives”. We were meeting with the DoD Bloggers Roundtable while he was visiting Ft Bragg and he explained that he had just left Butler Elementary School after meeting with a fun group of 3d graders to talk about Earth Day! Great combination, Month of the Military Child and Earth Day! Mr Davis had also attended an Earth Day ceremony and recognized Ft Bragg’s Natural Resources Team with an Excellence Award. A busy man he took time to tell me about the Army’s Sustainability Program and answered our questions.

The Land of Fire and Ice Disrupts Air Traffic - DoD Roundtable

We were stationed in Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice, for almost three years and saw the island at its best and worst at times. It was windy, cold, dark in the winter, required handrails on sidewalks due to ice and wind but it was a great tour! The people were helpful, liked Americans and treated us well. The land was always exciting with new adventures to see such as waterfalls, geysers, hot water lakes (such as the Blue Lagoon), beautiful geothermal heated swimming pools and much more! We visited Vestmannaeyjar (the home of Free Willy fame) and the ground was so hot in places the locals claimed they could bake bread on it! We also saw from a distance a smaller volcano that decided to erupt. Well a brother of that volcano is Eyjafjallajokull which erupted on April 16th with gusto and has since impacted the air traffic in and through Europe. In fact, it brought it to a standstill due to the amount of ash in the skies over the continent which did not allow air travel due to potential damage to jet engines.

Earth Day 2010

I will tell you I'm not a 'tree-hugger'. I spend probably too much money on pre-packaged foods. I always seem to forget to bring my own environmentally-friendly bags to stores - even though I do have a few of them. I don't drive an oversized-SUV but my smaller size mini-van isn't exactly the most economical vehicle out there.

But I do care.

I do know that I can make a difference.

I am not going to change the hole in our ozone layer. I'm not going to save the world with some major campaign about how we are all doomed if we don't make a change. I can hardly say that the small and minor things I do to take care of my little plot of green-space are news-worthy. (Nor do I want to give the impression that I am doom and gloom! The Earth is ours to enjoy.)

But what I do is significant to me, for me, for my family…

- I inconspicuously hang my fresh-from-the-wash clothes on a dryer rack on our deck when the weather is nice.

- We recycle. Our local garbage-carrier gives us two garbage cans. One for recyclables. One for garbage. They make it very easy for us. No sorting of paper, cardboard, glass, metal required. Just dump it all in the 'green garbage bin'.

We FILL our Recyclable bin every week. We could probably put our blue-garbage bin (for non-recylables) out once a month and it still wouldn't be full... but THAT would literally-REEK. So it still goes out once a week with it's one lowly bag of garbage for the landfill.

- We compost in the Spring, Summer, Fall; eggs, coffee-grinds, non-dairy or -meat, smelly vegetables and fruits from the back of my frig that I forgot all about. I took a plastic-garbage can. Put holes all around it with a drill. Put an old plastic tablecloth on the top and secured it with a couple bungee cords. During the summer I roll it around on the ground once in awhile. Makes for perfect garden materials the next spring.

- We grow a garden. Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Peppers, Lettuce, Carrots ... it's a bit extensive for our suburban-neighborhood. The garden sits perfectly on the south side of our house. It leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment. Then last summer I started canning! That is a great feeling of accomplishment. We still have some veggies in the cupboards from last autumn. I made pasta sauce with herbs from the garden, home-grown tomatoes and a whole bottle of wine (I'm sure that is what makes it good!) that my husband claims is the BEST EVER. (He is not a 'compliment-giver'. So I know he must really like it!) I made pots of it and canned it. We just used the last one last week.  (I'll be sure to share the recipe in the future.)

It's not that I'm Suzie-Homemaker (I'm NOT!). It does have something to do with wanting my children to learn to be conscious of the world around them; I like to lead by example and it gives us great opportunity to learn from each other. It is that I know God gave us this earth to take care of, to enjoy, not take advantage of. It is a feeling of accomplishment. Not a grand 'pat-on-the-back', everyone-cheer-me-on type of accomplishment. But a feeling within. A feeling that makes me smile as I pull a weed from the garden, hang a wet t-shirt on the 'line', fill yet another jar of carrots from the garden knowing my family will enjoy it in the winter.

What do you do to conserve ... reuse ... recycle? I'm not looking for grandiose... but what do you do for you, for your children, for your own sense of accomplishment? If you can't think of anything, find something. Last year was canning for me - that was brand-new. That is my goal this week: What new thing am I going to add to my repertoire? It might just be actually KEEPING my stash of 'environmentally friendly' bags in my mini-van so that I have them when I go shopping. They sure don't do much good hanging out in my laundry room!

Thursday, April 22nd is Earth Day. Get out and enjoy the sunshine and think about what you can do to make an impact!



- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

Tasty Tuesday: Tarragon Potatoes

Thinking about which spices to plant in your herb garden this year? Stake out a square foot for some French tarragon. You will love the scent, the taste and this recipe. It truly is a favorite and a most requested recipe.
Tarragon is a French herb with a horrible second name: "Dragon wort". Not my first choice of a dinner ingredient. Tarragon is related to wormwood... my goodness it gets worse and worse! :) But... leave the names behind and look at directly at the plant. French tarragon has slender branched stems, similar to rosemary. Because the plant does not have flowers, it cannot be grown from seed, therefore a trip to the nursery is required to buy a potted plant of French tarragon. French tarragon likes a hot, sunny spot without excessive watering... but should not be allowed to dry out.

French tarragon is one of the the fines herbes of French cooking and is a perfect match for chicken, lasagna, fish and potatoes!

Tarragon Potatoes
Serves 8
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, sliced thinly
2 t salt
1 t black pepper
2 1/2 t dried French tarragon
1 1/2 c grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 c heavy cream
1 c dry white wine

Butter 13x9x2" baking dish. Layer 1/3 of potatoes in prepared dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the salt, 1/3 of the French tarragon and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layering twice more with remaining potatoes, salt, tarragon and cheese.
Whisk cream and wine in a medium bowl just to blend. Pour over potatoes. Bake uncovered until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife and the top is golden, about 1 hour. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
I make this the night before, cover with foil, refrigerate and then reheat at 350 for 25 minutes. It is WONDERFUL. The aroma greets you before you have the first bite... never any leftovers to consider!

Week in Review: Week of April 11 - 17 (Military News)

Here are ten of our most popular military-related articles for the week

MilitaryAvenue.com:

Faces Behind the Hero: Army Wife, Mom and writer, Jane: Meet our Face Behind the Hero, Jane. I love her thoughts below about a 'Family Mission Statement'. What keeps your family together? What is the glue that binds? Where do you find the adventure that keeps life "interesting"? Thanks, Jane, for getting us all thinking about these things and not only being Army-Strong, but Family-Strong too!....

"A Little Bit of Hope, Help..." “A Little Bit of Hope, Help ..." is how US Navy CAPT James Wink, the chief engineer for Joint Task Force-Haiti responded to a question on how the Haitian people are responding to their crisis and what they needed. The resilience of the Haitians according to the Captain is amazing! I have heard this comment repeatedly during other interviews with those involved in the humanitarian assistance efforts since the earthquake on January 12th.  I was able to interview CAPT Wink this morning during a Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable. ...

Face of Defense: Former ‘Idol’ Contestant Serves in Khost: Join the Marines and see the world? Check. Enlist in the Army to serve with the famous Rakkasan Brigade from the 101st Airborne Division? Check. Sing on American Idol? Check. Have a mother who’s a movie star? Check.  Almost unbelievable, these events are part of the life story of Army Pfc. Cody Anderson, 25, a communications equipment operator for the 101st Airborne Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade, stationed at Forward Operating Base Salerno here. ...

Operation We are Here Releases ‘Brat Town Bugle’ - A Free Resource for Military Children: In conjunction with the Month of the Military Child, Opera-tion We Are Here announced it’s release of a free, downloadable newspaper for children.  Brat Town Bugle: A Publication of Non-Recruits in Big Boots was developed by Benita Koeman, the founder of Operation We Are Here to bridge the gap between her children and their deployed father. ...

Are You Getting Married for the Right Reasons? Myths of Marrying in the Military: A Sailor getting fresh air on the deck of a ship says to his buddy, "I can't wait to get back home. I wish I could get a place of my own in town, but I'll be stuck living on this ship." The other Sailor, unflatteringly regarded as a "sea lawyer," responds, "Hey, why don't you just marry another Sailor, and then you'll get paid more money to live off base and always be stationed together?" ...

USO Announces Sesame Workshop Tour Dates: The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling USO show based on Sesame Workshop’s award winning “Talk, Listen, Connect” initiative and produced in partnership with Vee, is back in the United States after an around-the-world tour.  The show, which is exclusively for military families, kicks off its second swing through the United States on April 17 at Fort Knox, Ky. Audiences will experience a 25-minute character performance and receive promotional items and outreach materials, officials said. ...

Families Can See Off, Greet Troops at Airport Gates: It’s a scene that’s played out in airports across the country numerous times in the past eight years: Families and servicemembers clinging to each other, either sad to leave or happy and vowing to never let go again.  The emotion always is appropriate, but the location of the scene – just beyond the airline ticket counters and before the security checkpoint - robs the actors of precious minutes with loved ones. Those lost minutes are unnecessary, at least as far as the Transportation Security Administration is concerned, a TSA spokesman said. ...

Thankful Thursday: Mutual Friends: Last night was 'Small Group'. Our church has called it many things over the years, K-Group, Home-Group, etc etc... I am partial to Small Group. A small group of friends that didn't start out as friends, but as strangers that have grown to care about one another and a desire to be with each other.  Last night was 'Small Group'. Our church has called it many things over the years, K-Group, Home-Group, etc etc... I am partial to Small Group. A small group of friends that didn't start out as friends, but as strangers that have grown to care about one another and a desire to be with each other. ...

Support for Military Children and Families: Children who experience a parent’s deployment can have trouble coping, especially when mom or dad returns home with an injury – or doesn’t return home at all.  During the Month of the Military Child, the MHS will offer a number of different informational resources to educate military families, supporters and caregivers on the unique challenges military children present.  Some of the unique programs promoted by the MHS include: ...

The Fears of Reintegration: Thoughts have been welling around in my head for the last two weeks. Thoughts that can take any moment in the day down a windy slippery hill. Thoughts that I'm not sure what to do with. I am quite human you will soon discover.  What is this fear lodged deep-down in my chest  R&R was a couple months ago and it was better then our honeymoon. We were inseparable. We didn't even have to be in the same room but I would just smile knowing we were in the same country, same state, same city, same house. I could nuzzle up to him at any point and just soak in his smells, his touch, hear the sweet words coming from his lips. ...




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Find Military Discounts in your community

You have Questions? We have MilitaryAvenue Answers!

Subscribe to MilitaryAvenue Alerts, monthly military-discounts and incentives right to your email box: Manage Subscriptions

The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

Faces Behind the Hero: Marine Wife, Ashley

Our Military-Family is made up of all types of people!  Young wives, seasoned veterans, "military-brats", all races & nationalities, well-educated, and learning new things each day!  Today's Face Behind the Hero is a young Marine Wife, Ashley.  Surviving her first deployment and reaching out to meet military-friends.


What branch is your husband in? How long has he been in?  He is in the Marine Corps and he enlisted March 2008

How long have you been married?  We got married January 29, 2010.  My favorite wedding day memory would have to be the first kiss as a married couple.

Do you have children? No children, but we are hoping for some in the future

How many deployments have you been through? This is our first deployment as a couple. But his second deployment.

When someone asks... “What can I do for you?” What do you say? What would you really like to say?  I just tell them I am okay. But I would really like to tell them that I am dying inside and I just need a long hug.

Where do you find the support you need when you need it?  My family is a great support system. My mom is always there to talk and my baby sister always makes me smile.

What do you miss most about “civilian life”?  NOTHING!!! I love being a part of the military.

What do you love most about being a military spouse?  Well, I love that we have so much support as a couple.

What is your favorite color and why?  Pink, my aunt has breast cancer.

Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?  Yes. "Missing someone gets easier everyday because even though you are one day further from the last time you saw them, you are one day closer to the next time you will".

Do you use on base facilities? Commissary? MCSS? MWR? Child Care? I use the commisary a ton, not paying taxes helps us save money.

What are your goals for the future? Education? Vacation? Family? Work-Life? You name it…   While my husband is in Afghanistan I plan to return to school and finish my degree in Criminal Justice.

We have all walked in Ashley's shoes.  Young and learning!  Are you a well-season military-spouse?  Reach out and be a mentor today.  Help the 'newbies' learn the ropes so that someday THEY can mentor a new spouse!  In the mean time if you are looking for some great Military-Resources be sure to check out these links:

MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Money & The Military
MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Are you having a baby?
MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: Buying a Home 
MilitaryAvenue.com Resources: So you are getting married?
MilitaryAvenue.com Special: PCS Central
Military Child Resources


- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

"A Little Bit of Hope, Help..." The Engineers in Haiti - DoD Roundtable

“A Little Bit of Hope, Help” … is how US Navy CAPT James Wink, the chief engineer for Joint Task Force-Haiti responded to a question on how the Haitian people are responding to their crisis and what they needed. The resilience of the Haitians according to the Captain is amazing! I have heard this comment repeatedly during other interviews with those involved in the humanitarian assistance efforts since the earthquake on January 12th.

I was able to interview CAPT Wink this morning during a Department of Defense Bloggers Roundtable. He had some great facts but his description of a young boy, his own child’s age, sitting on the street, seeing the Captain’s uniform, smiling and giving “a thumbs up” to an American service member is what touched me! Wink said he found the effort in Haiti to be extremely gratifying and he has been in the internal displaced persons camps and on the streets every day since his arrival on 29 January. Wink, currently assigned in San Diego, is originally from Syracuse, NY, led the teams of engineers from the different services with historic names such as Seabees, Red Horse, 82nd Airborne and many others.

Imagine trying to remove rubble that would fill the Louisiana Superdome five times! Twenty five million cubic yards! A dump truck in your neighborhood can probably carry 10 yards! Think how many trips it would take to move that mound of rubble but then realize it is spread out through a city in your neighborhood! My dad was a WWII engineer in Great Britain and he still talks about driving heavy equipment and trucks through the highways and byways of Britain in preparation for D Day. I imagine the streets of Haiti are more torturous and add the people still living among the devastation and the engineers definitely have their hands full. CAPT Wink said this was their biggest challenge in addition to stabilizing the seaport, preparing the airport for high volume traffic, building shelter for the people and preparing for the rainy season.

When asked what remains to be done, he didn’t hesitate and said the internally displaced person tasks (shelter and logistics of relocating many) and mitigating the rainy season impacts on the people. The JTF will be closing soon but the US presence will remain with the “New Horizons” exercise/mission coordinated by US Southern Command planning to build clinics, community centers and schools in the future. Wink said the focus of New Horizons will be outside of Port-au-Prince in the countryside.

Yep, A Little Bit of Hope, Help, … goes a long way but the physical efforts of our 22,000 service members, the thousands of Non Governmental personnel, allied military forces, USAID, the charitable giving to Haiti and much more keeps the Hope going for a people coping with a monster tragedy! Thank you CAPT Wink and “your” engineers for all their hard work helping the people of Haiti!

If you would like to listen to the Roundtable or read a transcript of this great story of American goodwill, please go to DoDLive! For other inspiring blogs about our efforts in Haiti please go to Our Letters to You – Haiti!





Photo Credit: An Airman from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., treats an earthquake survivor at an expeditionary medical facility Feb. 3, 2010, located along the harbor of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A 7.0-magnatude earthquake struck Haiti Jan. 12, leaving thousands of Haitians displaced and without access to food, water and vital medical care. (U.S. Navy photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Todd Frantom)

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy Capt. James Wink, JTF-Haiti J7 (chief engineer) DoDLive

Thankful Thursday: Mutual Friends

Last night was 'Small Group'. Our church has called it many things over the years, K-Group, Home-Group, etc etc... I am partial to Small Group.  A small group of friends that didn't start out as friends, but as strangers that have grown to care about one another and a desire to be with each other.

I've written about this wonderful group of people before. (Small Group: The Joys of Entertaining) We are all ages. Hubs and I the youngest; the oldest ... I'd venture in their 50s. I'm pregnant with baby #3. Some of them are empty-nesters wondering when they will be grandparents. A few of them grew up in the same town, still live in the same city they went to kindergarten in. Me?! Well we know my story. Air Force Brat through and through.

But we all have one sure thing in common. A need for 'daily-bread'. A need for fellowship. A need for someone to say 'How are you doing this week?'

I admit last night was crazy and would have been so easy to say ... sorry we are going to have to skip Small-Group tonight. Hubs has been working /crazy busy/ hours. Soccer season has begun, and therefore soccer-practices in the evening. We had to eat dinner at 4:30pm last night just to fit everything in. But nothing was going to stop us from making it over to the home of friends for time to just 'veg'.

What do you do to meet your quota of adult-interaction, time with friends, uplifting fellowship? 'Small-Group' is great because this is a group of friends for *both* Hubs and I. We have our own circles, too. But knowing that this group genuinely cares about both of us (and our children) is a major bonus!

I'd encourage you to get out there and find a group to fellowship with; through church, neighbors, or even something like a hometown softball-league. Friendship can encourage you to grow as a couple and grow as a person! It can remind you what is important, not work, not running around with your head-chopped off, but time with people, people who care.


- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

An Interview with Army Command and General Staff College Students - DoD Roundtable

I enjoyed talking to and asking questions of five majors attending the Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Ft Leavenworth concerning the changes to the curriculum at Army basic training this afternoon. I spoke with Majors Dugger, Register, Grubbs, Butler and Favor. I hope I have spelled all your names correctly!


During this DoD Bloggers Roundtable the officers communicated well and had a lively discussion about weapons training and other changes during basic (See US Army Initial Military Training - DoD Roundtable with LTG Mark Hertling for an earlier discussion of changes at basic training). The field grade officers confirmed that the changes mentioned by LTG Hertling were based on Army experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq where they had served. For example, sprints were now included in training in addition to longer endurance physical fitness. Bayonet training and some weapons training were eliminated and the officers experienced in the field supported that change and other amendments to the Warrior Task List as well.


The lessons learned during combat experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have been successfully applied in Haiti by forces responding to that country’s devastating earthquake with humanitarian assistance. Col Tim McAteer, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division commented during an earlier Roundtable on how dignity and respect led to order in Haiti. I asked if the lessons learned had been applied to the basic training course as well (social interaction with different cultures, community leadership, etc). One major commented that they had such limited time during basic that they had not been included in the latest changes but he did note that they were definitely being applied at unit level training prior to deployment.


While off topic a bit I also queried them on their curriculum at Army CGSC on the use of social media to get out the Army message. When I interviewed LTG Keen, Commander Joint Task Force Haiti last week he spoke highly of the social media and the public affairs officers and subordinate commanders had done a fabulous job of getting the message out via the social media in addition to the normal media outlets. One major said they had a specific course at the school on strategic communications and that included participating in events such as today’s Bloggers Roundtable and writing a blog on the Army message. While not a core part of the course, they all felt comfortable using Facebook and other social media (it appeared during friendly banter that some were more comfortable using the social media tools than others). I think that is a great step to familiarize field grade officers with communications and the news media! They will use those experiences and be better commanders with that in their training background!


If you would like to listen to the Roundtable or read a transcript, please go to DoDLive! Thank you to Ashley and the DoD New Media division for coordinating the Roundtable! A special round of applause for the participants from the Command and General Staff College as well!





Photo Credit: Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses faculty and students at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College on Fort Leavenworth, Kan., March 4, 2010. Photo Credit: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Tasty Tuesday: Great Snack Bits

After a great late lunch in a touristy type town in Florida, evening had a way of showing up. Dinner promised to be as good as the long walk, the shops and laughter. This was not going to be a heavy sit down affair, as we were ready to nibble. Mary and Ed had it all planned. We picked out a movie to watch, Mary served up a chilled bowl of gazpacho and then filled up snazzy serving bowls of Great Snack Bits. Perfect food, wonderful fun and memories that I will hold dear. Isn't that the way it is when you visit good USAF folk!

The snack mix is the best I ever tasted. Crunchy, sweet, salty - it has it all. This recipe makes a large amount! The toasted pecans carry this above other trail mixes. The heat brings out the crunchy nutty flavor. To roast the nuts, spray a heavy sauce pan with Pam and heat over medium high heat. Add the nuts and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Great Snack Bits
1 10 oz box Ritz bits crackers
1 11 oz box Cheese Ritz bits
1 11.5 gab small pretzels
1 c toasted pecans
1 c vegetable oil
2 1 oz packages Hidden Valley Ranch original salad dressing mix
1 T dill weed

Put crackers, pretzels and pecans in a large container. Mix seasonings and oil; pour over mixture and stir well. Continue to stir off and on for several hours, flipping container to coat well. Put in tightly covered containers.

Just as a side note. You can use Pepperidge Farm Gold fish crackers and Oyster crackers instead of the Ritz. It is fun to change things around sometimes. And more often than not, the store just ran out of an ingredient that I wanted... so experiment and let me know what you chose. Happy trails!

Faces Behind the Hero: Army Wife, Mom and writer, Jane

Meet our Face Behind the Hero, Jane.  I love her thoughts below about a 'Family Mission Statement'.  What keeps your family together?  What is the glue that binds?  Where do you find the adventure that keeps life "interesting"?  Thanks, Jane, for getting us all thinking about these things and not only being Army-Strong, but Family-Strong too!

What branch is your husband in? How long has he been in? My husband is active duty Army, and left for basic training on September 3, 2008...two days before my birthday!

How long have you been married? What is your favorite wedding-day memory?  We have been married for nearly three years. My favorite wedding day memory is just before I walked down the aisle, peeking through the glass panes at the back of the church, sneaking a look at my future husband. And, having "tunnel vision" as I walked down the aisle - all I could see was him. Our wedding day was really a blur; but, I remember all the emotion - especially the love!

Do you have children? How do you help them cope with military-life?  We have a two-year-old daughter, Eden, and we are expecting our son, Patton, in late May/early June. We also have a family dog, Simon, who is a beagle-mix and referred to as "Pawvite First Class" in our house. Thus far, we haven't had to deal with some of the major issues that military kids can face. Our daughter is very adaptable to different situations and sees our moving as family adventures.

When Daddy is away (to schools or deployment) we try to prepare her as much as possible with lots of family talks. We video-recorded my husband reading her favorite books, keep lots of pictures of Daddy around, talk about why Daddy is away, and send him lots of packages, photos, and artwork. We are so very blessed to have technology these days - email, instant messenger, Skype, etc.

One of my favorite things that our family has done is when we made a Family Mission Statement. My husband and I compiled our goals and expectations that we have for our family, and "mapped out" how we plan to get there. Our hope is that, by having these things in writing and discussing them often with our children, the volatility that military life can cause will be diminished and will help our family thrive.

How many deployments have you been through? How many PCSs?  This is our first deployment; my husband left at the end of February. We have PCSed twice - from Michigan to Georgia, and from Georgia to Texas.

When someone asks... “What can I do for you?” What is your response? What would you really like to say?  When someone asks what they can do for me, I usually respond with something like "Keep us in your thoughts and prayers." I'm not very good at asking for help unless I'm very close with the person; but, some of my best experiences thus far have been of being able to call friends day or night, and when a very dear friend watched our little girl did my dishes while I was dealing with an emergency. Being able to come home to a sleeping child and a neat kitchen was such a relief.

Where has your favorite post been? Why?  Having only been at two posts thus far in my husband's career, I don't have a plethora of knowledge and experience from which to speak. However, we are currently at Fort Bliss (El Paso, TX) and WE LOVE IT. We are both originally from Michigan, so the "wild west" lifestyle was quite foreign to us. Also, being so close to the U.S.- Mexico border (and Juarez, Mexico's drug war situation) made me very nervous. After being here for just a week, we'd fallen completely in love. First and foremost, my husband and I are both enamored with the mountain views; it is just beautiful and breath-taking morning, noon and night. We are also enjoying being in such a diverse area; brushing up on my high school and college Spanish language skills has been a must!

Where do you find the support you need when you need it?  When I need support, I usually turn to one of three people - my mom, my best college girlfriend, and my best military wife girlfriend. Depending on the situation and how I'm feeling, I know exactly who to call. I'm also (finally!) getting involved in the FRG and I'm learning to network that way. When I need to vent (anonymously) I like to connect with other spouses on the Military Spouse website (www.milspouse.com).

What do you miss most about “civilian life”?  What I miss most about "civ life" is being able to live where I want, and see my family and friends whenever I want - none of those decisions would be based on the military and their needs, if my husband weren't serving. The trade-off is that 1) we now have the opportunity to live in some amazing places and meet some really great people, 2) our visits with family and friends are that much more special and cherished, and 3) moving to a new town where you don't know anyone else is really a family bonding experience!

What do you love most about “military life”?  I love having the opportunity to see the world - mostly the States at this point, but I'd love it if we were stationed overseas. I also really love being able to expose our children to this whole different culture that is military life; it is our hope that it will give them a greater appreciation of the sacrifice that their Dad, and all the many men and women before and after him, have given. What I have really come to appreciate about military life is that we have quickly made "forever friends" that we love like family and will stay in touch with regardless of distance.

What in "military life" could you really do without?  The "unknowns" and constant changes. Nothing in the military is certain until is has already happened! I am definitely a "planner," and not being able to plan can really drive me crazy. Perhaps it's meant to be a good learning experience for me...!

What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about a lot - education, community involvement and leadership, writing, family traditions and memories for our kids, politics, pro-life issues...the list could go on, but I think that's a fair overview.

What is your favorite color and why?  My favorite color is cerulean blue - I like how I look and feel when I wear it. I also like green, for two reasons - it's the color of the uniform that my hubby looks best in (his Class As), and it's the color of my hubby's and my daughter's eyes. She looks so much like him that when I miss him, I just have to look at her.



Do you have a favorite quote? What is it?

"At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.’

Hungry not only for bread-but hungry for love.
Naked not only for clothing-but naked of human dignity and respect.
Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks-but homeless because of rejection.
This is Christ in distressing disguise." - Mother Teresa

This is my favorite quote because it reminds me of something that I'm often told, and something that, I think, we should all remember: Things are not important, people are. You may not remember a present that someone gave you, but you will remember how you were treated. At the end of the day, all we really have are relationships and the love we give to each other.

When you move to a new base what is one of the first things you do?  To be honest, I find the nearest grocery store and start unpacking! My husband loves to go out and explore the post and the city, whereas I'm very concerned with getting settled at home. We've learned how to compromise in this area - unpack in the morning, fun in the afternoon (or vice versa); I appreciate that he encourages me to enjoy and get to know our new town.

Has anyone in the community (business, church, neighbor off base, etc etc) ever gone out of their way to help you, as the spouse of a military-member? Who? What did they do?  No one has really gone out of their way within in the community. Several times I have had someone thank me, and my husband and our family, for the sacrifice that we make collectively. That really means a lot to me - when people recognize that military life can hard on everyone.

Do you use on base facilities? Commissary? PX? MWR? Child Care? Services of that nature. Why would you recommend one of these services in specific?  I do use post facilities. I love using the Commissary and PX because the prices are equivalent to civilian stores, and we don't pay tax. Once we moved to Georgia and didn't know anyone, we really used the MWR to take part in fun family activities and meet others. My husband and I also did a chaplain-sponsored, military-based marriage retreat to Chateau Elan while in Georgia. All expenses were paid (other than transportation to and from the facility), including lodging at the chateau, all meals, child care, and retreat materials. It was meant for people in all stages of marriage - newlyweds or those celebrating 20 years, high point in the marriage or struggling, preparing for deployment or dealing with homecoming issues. It was fun and relaxing; and, we both learned a lot.

Thank you for wonderful insights and small yet meaningful glimpse of your military way of life, Jane!  Want to keep up with Jane?  Read her personal blog at http://www.blissfulstedmans.wordpress.com/.  You can also find her at the the Examiner.com as the El Paso Military Families examiner: http://www.examiner.com/x-38126-El-Paso-Military-Families-Examiner.


- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com


PS:  "Attached is a favorite photo of my two favorite people. Taken when my hubby graduated from Basic Training. Little Eden was just over one year old and very excited to see Daddy again."

Week in Review: Week of April 4 - 10 (Military News)

Here are ten of our most popular military-related articles for the week

MilitaryAvenue.com:

Osprey Crash in Afghanistan Kills 3 Troops, Civilian: A U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed in southern Afghanistan late last night, killing three U.S. servicemembers, one civilian employee and injuring numerous other servicemembers.  The cause of the crash is unknown, officials with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said.  fficials said the aircraft was carrying U.S. troops when it crashed seven miles west of Qalat City in Zabul province. The injured were transported to a nearby base for medical treatment....

The "Smiles of the Children" in Haiti - An Exclusive MilitaryAvenue Interview with Lt General Ken Keen, Commander, Joint Task Force Haiti: When I asked Lieutenant General Ken Keen, Commander Joint Task Force Haiti, what he would leave behind in Haiti he said, “the smiles of the Haitian children”! General Keen gave me a wonderful glimpse of his experiences and those of 22,000 other American service members serving in Haiti following the earthquake on January 12th in an exclusive MilitaryAvenue, Our Letters to You, interview this morning.  ...

F-16s Respond to Denver-bound Aircraft: Two F-16 fighters under the direction of North American Aerospace Defense Command intercepted a Denver-bound airliner at about 6:45 p.m. MDT today.  Shortly before the airliner was scheduled to land in Denver from Washington National Airport, a passenger reportedly caused a disturbance, NORAD officials said.  The F-16s intercepted and escorted the aircraft, which landed safely. Local law enforcement officials met the plane in Denver. ...

Presidential Award Recognizes Best Installations: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced the winners of the 2010 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence.  The Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Naval Base San Diego; Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; and Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna, Pa., will receive the award at a May 5 Pentagon ceremony, Defense officials said. ...

The Nuclear Posture Review - A New Strategy for the United States! DoD Roundtable: I have seen the effects of a nuclear explosion! First hand, on the spot, over ground zero as they went off! Ever throw a big rock into a still pond and seen the ripple of waves? Imagine that with solid granite in the Nevada desert many years ago! I flew security, radiation monitoring and safety aircraft on my first assignment after pilot training as the Air Force supported the Atomic Energy Commission (later the Department of Energy) Underground Nuclear Test program. ...

Faces Behind the Hero: Jamie, Marine Corp Wife and Mom: April is month of the Military-Child and behind every strong-child is a strong-mom, just like behind every good-Marine is a Strong Family! Words couldn't be more true of Jamie, a US Marine Corp wife, and mother of two young 'military-brats'. What a great opportunity to see a small glimpse of a young Marine Family and where they find their strength. ...

Walt Disney World's Armed Forces Salute 2010: From January 3, 2010 to July 31, 2010, Active and Retired U.S. Military, including members of the U.S. Coast Guard and active members of the National Guard or Reservists, may purchase 4-Day Walt Disney World Armed Forces Salute Tickets for themselves and up to five (5) family members and/or friends for $99. The base ticket is valid for four days of admission into one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks. The Park Hopper option allows guests to visit more than one park each day. ...

Employment Opportunities with Child and Youth Programs: Looking for a job on base? Interested in working for an employer that provides training, tuition assistance and other educational benefits? Join us for a discussion about the employment opportunities through Navy Child and Youth Programs. Learn the difference between the different jobs available and how to apply. This 60-minute presentation will be facilitated by a representative from Child and Youth who will provide an overview of the employment opportunities and benefits. ...

Planning a Military Wedding Doesn't Have to be a Saber-Rattling Experience: Unlike other areas of the military service, there are no steadfast rules in the marriage process. Getting married by a Navy chaplain really is not much different than getting married by a civilian minister, priest, or rabbi. The only differences occur in the way a couple chooses to marry.  Military uniforms and the Arch of Swords/Sabers mostly come to mind when couples plan a traditional military wedding, but Navy chaplains in military chapels can perform many different types of religious ceremonies. ...

Military Dates to Remember April - June 2010: This blog is a series of quarterly blogs to keep you aware of military events so we can help our military Partners and community stay connected! Just as you can find the military community working hard anywhere in the world we work hard to find new ways to help you reach out! One of our recommendations has been to stay in tune with the military community events in your local area. This quarter is jam packed with events such as the Month of the Military Child, National Military Appreciation Month, etc.! So stay in tune and recognize the troops and their families! ...




More Great MilitaryAvenue.com content:

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The Reading Room, full of relevant news related to the military family

Moving Tools, Our Moving and Relocation Tools for Military Families

Daffodil therapy

Daffodils. Great name for a flower I think. Something daffy is well, happy, a childhood memory made tangible and moments without pressure: pure frivolity.

Prior to when Dale retired from the USAF, I went into a panic mode. What in the weeda world (a Norwegian expression from my fabulous grandmother) were we going to be doing? Good night, he would be home all the time. A life time of crew rest. OH MY!!
My Mom was a great gardener. She could take a clump of dirt and transform it into a living breathing eye-grabbing spectacle. I thought the gardens were just for show... now I know differently.
Bring on the daffodils.

The fall season that we moved into our house we planted bulbs. A gazillion it seems. My back told me that. Each year we add to the number and type of bulbs growing in the many gardens that greet folks as they pass our entrance gate. Tulips I learned are a favorite snack of deer and squirrels... we don't plant them anymore. But the daffodils flourish. They announce spring, celebrate the coming warmth, the cycle of life that lets this crew thrive during our crew rest. Daffy? Sure! Tangible - oh yes. I have bouquets everywhere.

May I suggest you get your garden gloves on and plant a few gardens. Crew rest isn't spent sleeping... it is checking out life with a great partner.

Spring Break Fun

I love the change in routine involved with Spring Break!  We have enjoyed alarm clocks off, time outdoors, moments together and later bedtimes.  Time with school-aged friends, time with neighbors, time with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

I had a great Easter weekend at home.  We enjoyed Easter church-service as a family, followed by the annual Easter-Egg hunt at Hub's Grandma's house involving A LOT of plastic eggs and A LOT of kids.  We spent a few days enjoying the warmer-then-usual Spring weather in our backyard, planting some flower seeds, friends over to play backyard-baseball and so much more!  We packed up the car mid-week and headed to my folk's house, about a five hour drive, but well worth the time!

While at my Mom and Dad's we have gone to the zoo, bowling as a crew, even had a birthday-celebration for my soon-to-be five year older :)  Spring Break has been FUN!

Today we will head home.  Our soccer-season starts tomorrow.  Soccer practices will fill the calendar for three boys, soccer games will consume our Saturdays for several weeks.  School starts again on Monday.  Baseball / T-Ball Season will start when soccer is almost done and last till school is out in June.  It is about to get crazy!  Makes me that much more thankful for this last week, this wonderful, God-given, break in routine.  The calm before the storm they call it. :)

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

The "Smiles of the Children" in Haiti - An Exclusive MilitaryAvenue Interview with Lt General Ken Keen, Commander, Joint Task Force Haiti

When I asked Lieutenant General Ken Keen, Commander Joint Task Force Haiti, what he would leave behind in Haiti he said, “the smiles of the Haitian children”! General Keen gave me a wonderful glimpse of his experiences and those of 22,000 other American service members serving in Haiti following the earthquake on January 12th in an exclusive MilitaryAvenue, Our Letters to You, interview this morning. The general felt strongly about sharing this story with me! He wants our military families and other Americans to know what we did in Haiti and how successful our Soldiers, Airmen, Coasties, Sailors and Marines have been while saving lives and alleviating the unimaginable pain of an entire nation!

General Keen was in Haiti when the earthquake occurred on January 12th. He was meeting with Ambassador Kenneth Merten at his residence as they witnessed the earthquake and its impact on the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. The general vividly described the residence, where he was sitting and how they immediately realized that thousands of lives had been lost. They felt the earthquake, saw the dust rising from the collapsed buildings and heard the screams of the injured. Able to maintain communications with Southern Command they responded to an immediate call for assistance from Haitian government envoys. The ambassador and general were able to tell them that the US President and country would provide our full and maximum support to alleviate the results of this huge disaster! The message: One of hope for the Haitians traumatized by this catastrophe!

According to General Keen, the Haitian president and ministers first asked for assistance getting the airport operating again since that would be the lifeline of the initial humanitarian assistance. The tower had collapsed and status of the one runway and taxiway were unknown. General Keen drove to the field the next morning and requested Air Force special operations airmen from Hurlburt Field to re-open the airport. This was a critical first step to get the aid flowing into Haiti and they arrived within 28 hours of the earthquake. With their assessment complete and portable tower facility in place they pushed 125 flights onto the airfield on the second day! I’d call that maximum support!

While the Air Force responded with airfield support, the Coast Guard turned cutters toward Haiti and began helicopter operations with medevacs in the immediate aftermath of the quake. Anxious to get the seaports open as the long term logistics lines would flow through there, Navy teams were dispatched to assess the situation for the government. With their initial assessment showing significant damage, Joint Task Force Haiti then requested barges to allow offloading of ships in the port to be transferred to the shore. The response was beginning to build and the new Collaborate and Coordinate (C2) theme began for the leadership.

I asked General Keen, why the new term for C2? Military C2 is traditionally, Command and Control and had become Coordination and Collaboration in the JTF. He responded that we were a supporting force and the United Nations forces (8,000 on the island), Haitian government resources, numerous non governmental organizations (NGOs) and other international responders needed a singular focus and purpose – Save Lives! Unity of purpose allowed all to recognize the need to respond with the best solution. NGOs food distribution centers were assisted by the 82nd Airborne soldiers and no food riots occurred despite a population desperate for food and water. While they could be hungry and thirsty no one died of starvation or thirst due to these efforts! New ties with NGOs that recognized the humaneness of soldiers supporting them are a by product of the 82nd efforts. The general felt that experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan allowed soldiers to communicate with the people, community leaders and paid great dividends. The information cell developed to coordinate strategic communications was also critical to the response with multiple agencies from the US government, the UN, Haiti government and NGOs participating. Recognizing that communications about their efforts were important, the general’s team of commanders and other leadership participated in numerous DoD Blogger Roundtables in addition to more traditional media efforts to tell the story.

On February 1st the US military response to the disaster reached its peak with 22,000 personnel, 58 aircraft and 15 ships directly involved. This does not include all the Transportation Command aircraft and personnel supporting the effort from the US mainland and locations such as Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba with its easy reach to Haiti. The medical response saved countless lives with the Navy’s USNS Comfort receiving critically injured patients before they even reached port! As of 1 April the military caregivers had treated 19,000 + patients, admitted 1,200 patients to military facilities, completed 1,025 surgeries on critical patients and completed 255 medevac missions. I know of at least one baby delivered on board the Comfort following a medevac as well!

When I asked about units that had the biggest impact he named off numerous organizations involved but I could tell he was concerned about not leaving one out! All US military personnel were received with open arms by the Haitian people and of course the medical response for those injured was critical to the lifesaving efforts of all. He named the 2nd BCT of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 22nd and 24th Marine Expedition Units (Bataan and Nassau), the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the special operations forces from Special Operations Command South with their civil affairs teams, the USNS Comfort hospital ship and of course the initial responders from Hurlburt Field!

To give you some idea of the effort and what was accomplished by the JTF and supporting commands in the US the JTF provided me these statistics. Service members provided 4.9 million meals, 17 million pounds of bulk food and 4.2 million bottles of water to the Haitians! As of April 1st, there have been 4,600 JTF-Haiti aircraft sorties flown, they supported the distribution of Emergency Shelter for 1.3 million displaced persons; distributed 174,000 tarpaulins and 29,000 tents. The engineers trained over 200 Haitian building inspectors and conducted 14,000 structure assessments; upwards of 45% of all structures inspected marked as "safe to occupy." Finally, 32,000 cubic yards of rubble was removed from the streets of Port-Au-Prince.

What of the future? The JTF will be closing eventually (June 1st?) and the needs of the Haitian people have not lessened! He said the capacity of the NGOs, United Nations and Haitian government was tremendous but that funding and the execution of the Haitian government’s development plan were key to the recovery which could take a decade to complete. He also said that the US military ties will continue with support from US Southern Command.

I queried the general on what he would leave behind in Haiti when the Task Force closes with its mission complete. First, he said he was very proud of how we responded, from the President, to the JTF and to every single soldier, sailor, guardsmen, airmen and marine involved in any way! No one could leave Haiti with out being touched by the resilience of the Haitian people. His regret? The job is not over! Forever imprinted? The smiles of the Haitian children!

Thank you General Keen! What a marvelous team you lead and we are so appreciative of your efforts and for taking the time to do this interview!



If you would like to see other blogs written about Haiti in MilitaryAvenue.com's Our Letters to You, please go to this Haiti link which will pull up the blogs chronologically from the last to the first of the series.


Photo Credit: 03/07/2010 - U.S. Soldiers deliver clothes and toys donated by troops to the Association Solidarité et Fraternité, an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 7, 2010. The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development are in Haiti supporting Operation Unified Response, a multinational, joint service operation providing humanitarian assistance to Haitians affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the region Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David A Frech/Released) VIRIN: 100307-N-9116F-061

Photo Credit: Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, Commander, Joint Task Force - Haiti. Photo Courtesy of Joint Task Force Haiti DoDLive




Broiled Asparagus

I just read that asparagus is the new in vegetable. One that is a subject of definite good for you food type articles. That is fine with me, as I love the stuff. Dale and I have planted more roots and have gotten diddly out of them... yet have them growing wild here and there. Obviously a lesson is hidden somewhere here that I am not getting.
But what I do get is the beauty and crunch of this vegetable. In a restaurant when I see it as an extra side dish... I just have to have it, and have been rewarded with a great product each time. Broiled or grilled, asparagus is an easy dish, the key is the freshness. That cannot be overstated. Trimming the stalks is easy, as the end will snap off to give you a perfect product.
Try this with a meat dish that needs a slender side. Tastes great and looks classy too!
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
1 T olive oil
2 T pecans toasted
1/3 c Parmesan cheese
Brush asparagus with oil oil and season with salt. Broil 3 inches from heat, turning often until asparagus are just tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a warm plate. Drizzle with scant amount of olive oil. Sprinkle toasted pecans and top with Parmesan cheese.

The Nuclear Posture Review - A New Strategy for the United States! DoD Roundtable

I have seen the effects of a nuclear explosion! First hand, on the spot, over ground zero as they went off! Ever throw a big rock into a still pond and seen the ripple of waves? Imagine that with solid granite in the Nevada desert many years ago! I flew security, radiation monitoring and safety aircraft on my first assignment after pilot training as the Air Force supported the Atomic Energy Commission (later the Department of Energy) Underground Nuclear Test program. I was awed by these weapons’ power and the destruction they could provide. I flew low over the fake towns set up (with trenches for real soldiers) for the above ground tests in the 1950s and could not imagine what it was like for those soldiers.

So it was with a personal interest that I met with the DoD Blogger’s Roundtable today to discuss the just released Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which implements the President’s vision to reduce the role of nuclear weapons while maintaining our national security. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Nuclear and Missile Defense, Bradley H Roberts and Rear Admiral John E Roberti, Deputy Director for Strategy and Policy, J-5, The Joint Staff met with and answered questions about the new posture and its implications for future military responses, force structure, weapon system updates and the role of nuclear weapons in our national defense. Roberts and Roberti were the co-directors of the review which included inter-agency partners from the Department of State and Department of Energy.

Both men were very helpful, articulate, presented the plan in a way that was easy to understand and responded to questions very thoughtfully. The Chairman and individual members of the Joint Chiefs representing each service were fully behind the new NPR which is completely unclassified with no classified annexes so it can be publicly discussed. It was also coordinated with US allies such as Great Britain to ensure their concerns were met. Their interests were respected during initial consultations, a mid project review and prior to final release they received copies of the NPR. Due to the combined US government interagency effort to design the strategy, it was announced by Secretary Gates, DoD, Secretary Clinton, DoS and Dr Chu, DoE at a press conference earlier today.

Roberts and Roberti said that we are not moving away from nuclear deterrence but responding to a changing world with different threats and enemies. There will be no new testing, no new missions and no new nuclear weapons developed under this strategy. The nuclear Triad of land based missiles, submarines and bomber aircraft will be maintained. But there will be force structure changes including a review of the next heavy bomber, a follow on to the Ohio class submarine and ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) changes. The mix of weapon systems will change based on our adversaries capabilities and strategies. Their will be budget decisions to be made and changes will occur in the next 2-6 years according to the Secretary. With the new strategy developed, weapon system changes and budget cycle efforts which take at least that long to implement will follow. Of course, with these changes will come changes to the services’ manpower and structure which will impact the military community and their families!

If you would like to read more information from the President’s announcement please go to MilitaryAvenue.com and “Review Reduces Weapons, Maintains Deterrence, Obama Says”. If you would like to listen to the Roundtable or read a transcript, please go to DoDLive!

Thank you to the Department of Defense New Media for making this interview possible with these leaders! Lee McMahon did a wonderful job as moderator today as well!

Week in Review: Week of March 28 - April 3 (Military News)

Here are ten of our most popular military-related articles for the week on

MilitaryAvenue.com:


April is Month of the Military Child: April is a big month for military families as we recognize the younger part of the family teams that serve their country! Month of the Military Child is celebrated in many ways and you can find events occurring throughout the month at nearby installations!  Military kids face many challenges and hurdles as they relocate with their families. From long separations with a deployed parent(s) to an extensive list of schools attended; friends made and then goodbyes spoken (too often for most parents). ...

New DVD Helps Children Deal With Deployment: Defense and USO officials joined military families at the U.S. Navy Memorial here yesterday to celebrate the launch of a new DVD created to help military children cope with a parent’s deployment. "With You All the Way” -- a joint effort by the Defense Department, USO and the Trevor Romain Co. -- offers school-age children help with preparing for and dealing with all stages of deployment, from pre-deployment to separation to reintegration. ...

Thriller: Soon I will celebrate the 24th anniversary of my 10th birthday. I know that is a strange way to say that yes, I am almost 34. But any military-brat can tell you the importance of that 10th birthday. Turning 10 meant independence, empowerment, growing-up; it was a big deal! It was the day I could get my Military ID Card! It was a yellow card with a hole and a chain that I could hang around my neck. It had an awkward picture of a pre-teen with a curly perm and loads of freckles. It said that I, yes I, had Exchange, MWR, and Commissary privileges.  It wasn't a driver's license - but it was the next best thing.  ...

April: Month of the Military Child: This is going to be quick because I need to get outside and play with MY favorite Military-Brats. It is their first day of Spring Break. It is over 70 degrees outside. There is no reason for my to be behind the computer EXCEPT as a quick reminder that April is Month of the Military Child! What a wonderful group-of people to celebrate. I am one! I may be 36... but will always be a Brat! It has defined me, and continues to define me. ...


Military Spouse Appreciation Day: We come in
all...
Shapes
Sizes
Ages
Backgrounds
Colors
Theologies
Ideologies
Societies  ...

Faces Behind the Hero: Heather, Army Wife, Mother of Multiples, Blogging-Expert: Meet this week's 'Face Behind the Hero', Heather. Yet another, wonderful, strong, inspiring military-wife! The wife of a linguist, a mother of *multiple* multiples, she knows what it means to serve.  ...

Exchange Online Mall Now Taking Travel Reservations:  The Exchange Service’s Exchange Online Mall has partnered with the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation to help troops take a break without going broke.  Now, any authorized exchange shopper can log on to the Exchange Online Mall and book a vacation, including 7-night Alaskan Cruises from $399, Cozumel from $28 per night and an 11-day European Dream vacation, through FMWRC’s Government Vacation Rewards program. ...

MilitaryAvenue's Moving Checklist: A move isn't complete without a checklist! It certainly is less stressful with one. Click on a link below to take you to the appropriate timeframe and then skim the other lists to make sure you are on track for a great move:  ...

Keeping the "Trucks" Rolling Into, Around and Out of Afghanistan and Iraq - DoD Roundtable: The DoD Bloggers Roundtable met with Maj General Robert McMahon, Director of the Central Command Deployment and Distribution Center (CENTCOM DDOC) to discuss the logistics of surging in Afghanistan and drawing down forces in Iraq. With direct oversight of strategic logistics in both locations the general has quite a job. ...

Helping Bereaved Military Children: Be honest and open: Use clear language that includes the term “death” rather than euphemisms (e.g. “loss”, “gone to sleep”) that may confuse children. Rather than having just one conversation, stay open to ongoing questions and discussions.  Provide a sense of safety and security: Re-establishing routines and structure provide children with a comforting sense of stability in the midst of changes. For example, keep up with ongoing after-school activities and regular bedtimes. ...


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