Brain Computer Interface Technology for Our Military: Military Connection

Military Connection: brain to computer

By Debbie Gregory.

What if you could communicate via a cellphone or radio without uttering a sound or moving a finger? What sounds like science fiction is becoming a reality.

The Army Research Laboratory is funding research into brain-computer interfacing (BCI), the technology that allows paralyzed individuals to move robotic limbs. The exploration of this technology has the potential to revolutionize both medical applications and the ways that Soldiers communicate on the battlefield.

Recent advances in hardware and software, in addition to breakthroughs in neuroscience and cognitive science has resulted in the ability to perform functions such as typing, making phone calls and controlling a robotic arm, solely by thinking.

The laboratory is funding two projects. The first is to develop a prototype system for detecting imagined speech and monitoring a user’s attention and orientation by recording brain activity in real time.

The second project seeks to understand the physiological biomarkers of brain signals for imagined speech detection. If successful, that would allow researchers to design algorithms to extract biomarkers, or features, for imagined speech detection. In other words, it would be a way for a program to read the user’s thoughts.

While it may take many years, or even decades to grow BCI technology, Dr. Liyi Dai, program manager in the Computer Sciences Division at ARL’s Army Research Office, and his fellow researchers are confident that further progress means potentially great capabilities for Soldiers.

“Progress in BCI based communication is potentially of great importance to the warfighter because BCIs would eliminate the intermediate steps required in traditional human-machine interfaces. Having a Soldier gain the ability to communicate without any overt movement would be invaluable both in the battlefield as well as in combat casualty care,” Dai said.

Scientists are working hard behind the scenes to bring this technology to fruition and make it applicable in real-world situations for the benefit and protection of our Soldiers.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Brain Computer Interface Technology for Our Military: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

US to Withdraw Missile Batteries: Military Connection

Military Connection: missile batteries

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. will pull out its Patriot missile defense units along the Turkish border with Syria.

The Pentagon released a joint statement by Washington and NATO ally Turkey, saying that the Patriot batteries, which were sent to Turkey in 2013, would return to the U.S. for upgrades by October.

According to the joint statement, the Patriot batteries “will be re-deployed to the United States for critical modernization upgrades that will ensure the U.S. missile defense force remains capable of countering evolving global threats and protecting Allies and partners, including Turkey.” The statement stressed that the United States and NATO are committed to supporting Turkey’s security and regional stability.

Absent, however, was any mention of the recent Turkish airstrikes in northwestern Iraq against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which have come under increasing criticism in Europe. Turkey has said that the airstrikes against the PKK were in response to terror attacks.

While Turkey agreed to let the U.S. use Incirlik Air Base to launch air strikes against Islamic State forces in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s hostility toward Kurdish fighters, many of whom are American allies in ground battles against Islamic State, complicates the relationship.

The U.S., Germany and the Netherlands all deployed Patriots in early 2013 after Turkey asked its NATO partners for help as the Syrian civil war escalated. The Netherlands withdrew its Patriot battery earlier this year and was replaced by Spain.

Despite the withdrawal of the Patriots, the US will retain a “persistent presence” of US Navy multi-role Aegis ships in the eastern Mediterranean and these ships offer a range of capabilities to support the defense of Turkey and NATO missions, including support for NATO air and missile defense. “If needed, the U.S is prepared to return Patriot assets and personnel to Turkey within one week.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

China Ordered to Remove Covert Agents: Military Connection

China Ordered to Remove Covert Agents

By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. has warned China that covert agents tasked with hunting down alleged Chinese fugitives across the globe are not welcome in America.

The Obama administration has delivered a warning to Beijing about the presence of Chinese government agents operating secretly in the United States to return home immediately. U.S. diplomats previously warned China to stop using covert law enforcement agents on U.S. soil.

The Chinese government has officially named the effort “Operation Fox Hunt.”

Delivered to Chinese officials, the warning comes amid growing tension between Washington and Beijing on a number of issues, including the devaluation of China’s currency and the cyberattack on the Office of Personnel Management, in which tens of millions of classified personnel files of government employees were stolen.

Those tensions are expected to complicate the state visit to Washington next month by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president.

The agents have been operating covertly, often entering the U.S. on tourist or trade visas. They are tasked with hunting down economic fugitives and bringing them back to China, sometimes using strong-arm tactics to repatriate them to China, including threatening family members who remain in China.

Director of Operation Fox Hunt Liu Dong has said in the past that Chinese agents working abroad must comply with local laws, and sometimes even work with local law enforcement to locate fugitive suspects.

The campaign has resulted in more than 930 suspects being repatriated since last year, including more than 70 who have returned voluntarily.

Officials declined to provide specific evidence of the activities of the agents.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award Winners: Military Connection

Freedom Award Winners

By Debbie Gregory.

The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense (DoD) office, has selected the 15 employers named as the recipients for the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Now in its 20th year, the award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of their employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve. The awards are presented each year to employers in three categories, large business, small business and the public sector.

The Freedom Award was created to publicly recognize employers who hire veterans and provide exceptional support to their Guard employees and Reserve employees. It is the highest in a series of employer recognition awards given by the Department of Defense. Nominations must come from a Guard or Reserve member who is employed by the organization they are nominating, or from a family member.

Senior DoD and other officials and representatives of prior recipient organizations narrowed the field of 30 nominees to the 15 Freedom Award recipients.

The winning companies are:

Black Hills Corporation

Boise Fire Department

BP America, Inc.

Cardinal Health

Cigna

City of Glendale

City of Shawnee

College of the Ozarks

CVS Health

Devon Energy

Dr. Joe A. Jackson, MD, PLLC

Neil, Dymott, Frank, McFall, Trexler, McCabe & Hudson

Snell & Wilmer, LLP

Town of Hingham

Walt Disney Co

Previous winners include Bank of America, McDonnell Douglas, Tektronix, Inc. and National Life of Vermont. If you would like to view all past recipients, visit http://www.freedomaward.mil/PastRecipientsView.aspx .

The finalists were selected from 2,960 nominations received from Guardsmen and reservists for going far beyond what federal law requires in support of military employees. At MilitaryConnection.com, we tip our hat to these outstanding employers and congratulate these recipients of the prestigious 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

 

The Tragic Consequences of Over-Prescribing of Painkillers : Military Connection

Military Connection: jason

By Debbie Gregory.

As the first anniversary of Jason Simcakoski’s passing approaches, an inspector general’s report faults a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs hospital for the accidental overdose of the Marine Corps veteran.

The outrage of Simcakoski’s death has sparked legislation aimed at strengthening guidelines for prescribing painkillers. His parents, widow and daughter watched as a Senate committee weighed an overhaul bill, sponsored by a Wisconsin senator, designed to curb overdose deaths at Wisconsin’s Tomah VA and other medical centers across the country. It was a crucial first step for the legislation, though many hurdles remain and its future is uncertain.

The inspector general’s report revealed that Jason Simcakoski’s death in August, 2014 was a reaction to a toxic mix of at least 12 prescribed drugs. It also faulted VA staff for the chaotic resuscitation response, and failing to have the proper drugs on hand to counteract Simcakoski’s overdose.

The Tomah VA has been dubbed “Candyland” for what some say was wanton overprescription of opiates.

Simcakoski served in the Marines from 1998-2002 and suffered a head injury. Anxiety attacks led him to seek care at the Tomah VA, where his family said he struggled for over four years with no improvement, despite a long list of medications.

An autopsy found the mix of drugs in system resulted in his death while an in-patient at the facility. The two psychiatrists who prescribed drugs to Simcakoski did not talk to him or his family about risks associated with the drugs.

In response to the report, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who requested the investigation, released a statement saying “This report confirms that the Tomah VA physicians entrusted with Jason’s care failed to keep their promise to a Wisconsin Marine and his family.”

Sen. Baldwin has sponsored a bill that calls for an update to guidelines for the use of opioids for pain management, new safety training for health care providers, and real-time reporting and tracking of veterans’ narcotic prescriptions. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.V., cosponsored the bill.

The report on Simcakoski’s death recommends local VA officials determine whether anyone should be punished, and that the facility director review medical emergency procedures.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

The Tragic Consequences of Over-Prescribing of Painkillers : Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Military Not Immune to Ashley Madison Hack: Military Connection

hacked

By Debbie Gregory.

Hackers released compromising details on thousands of military personnel who were users of the adultery website AshleyMadison.com.

The registered email addresses, names, addresses and phone numbers and financial information submitted by users of the website that promotes marital affairs, were part of a recent data dump by hackers who stole the sensitive personal information.

There are 6,788 us.army.mil addresses, 1,665 navy.mil ones, and 809 usmc.mil. It is thought that many of these email addresses may well be fake, as the site does not verify them during sign up.

The Defense Department couldn’t immediately confirm whether the military domains were valid.

“We are aware of the reporting,” Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a spokesman at the Pentagon, said on Wednesday in an email. “However, we do not keep service email addresses centrally located. Confirmation of the emails would have to be handled by the services.”

Many of the email addresses appear to be suspect, erroneous or outright fake. For example, false domains include “yahoo.mil,” “us.ary.mil” and even “fakemail.gov.” Other addresses appear to be old and likely no longer in use. For instance, 127 addresses are registered to “gimail.af.mil” — a service phased out by the Air Force in 2010.

Simply having an account with the site might not be enough for a military prosecution. It could, however, land some people in hot water with their employers.

Using a .mil email account or computer to access pornography or to register on sites like AshleyMadison.com is prohibited by Defense Department regulations. Violators can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Adultery is against the Code of Conduct for members of the armed forces.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said the Pentagon is investigating.

“Of course it’s an issue because conduct is very important,” Carter said. “And we expect good conduct on the part of our people. The services are looking into it and as well they should be– absolutely.”

Averting A Major Catastrophe: Military Connection

train

By Debbie Gregory.

French President Francois Hollande awarded the Legion d’Honneur to four men who put their personal safety aside to overpower a gunman on a train in France.

Americans Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler, and Briton Chris Norman heroically attacked the suspect aboard the high-speed Thylas train, traveling from Amsterdam to Paris last week. “By their courage, they saved lives,” Hollande said. “They gave us an example of what is possible to do in these kinds of situations.”

Hollande expressed his gratitude for their bravery, as well as that of the 28-year-old French professor who was the first to tackle the gunman but did “not want his name to be made public.” Hollande said he would award the medal to Mark Moogalian, the American-born French academic who is still in a hospital as soon as possible.

Moogalian, who was travelling with his wife, was suspicious of the suspect because he entered the toilet with his suitcase and stayed inside a long time. When the suspect came out, Moogalian saw that he had a weapon and tried to remove it. He was shot in the neck with a Luger.

“He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we,” said Spencer Stone.

They punched the suspect, choked him and hit him with his own weapons. They finally restrained him before the train pulled up in Arras in northern France.

Although he was badly cut in the struggle, Stone was able to apply pressure to Moogalian’s neck to control the bleeding.

The alleged gunman, identified as Moroccan national Ayoub El Khazzani, carried an AK-47 assault weapon, in addition to the Luger, ammo, and a box cutter.

Sadler, Stone and Skarlatos reportedly met in middle school in California and planned on spending the summer sightseeing together. It was Sadler’s first trip to Europe, and National Guardsman Skarlatos was on a month-long break after serving in Afghanistan. Stone is an Air Force serviceman.

“We are here to honor four men who, thanks to their bravery, managed to save lives,” Hollande said at the ceremony. “They showed what could be done in terrible circumstances. You put your lives at risk in order to defend freedom.” Hollande continued. “You behaved like soldiers but also as men, responsible men.”

NH Leading the Way for Veterans: Military Connection

military connection nh

By Debbie Gregory.

Three initiatives have been launched in the state of New Hampshire, all in an effort to assist the medical community better serve their military and veteran population.

The first initiative will impact the 10 community facilities run by the NH Dept. of Health and Human Services. This landmark effort will position a dedicated staff member at each facility who is committed to providing resources and specialized services to veterans, military service members and their families. Their goal is to provide individualized care in order to streamline their services.

Commissioner Nick Toumpas confirmed that according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, no other state has developed this type of program soley for military personnel, veterans, and military families.

The other two other initiatives focus on health education, and are currently in place across the state. Easter Seals NH has created a program called “Ask the Question,” encouraging health care providers and other services to ask patients whether they have served in the military during their preliminary screening of patients. This information is extremely helpful when planning a whole-patient approach to health care.

The other initiative furthers the ability to offer better care by helping health care providers learn more about resources available for their veteran patients. “Dare Mighty Things” is a group based out of Portsmouth, NH, that gives providers a better understanding of veterans’ unique needs and available resources specific to those needs. One positive example of this program’s efforts was shared by patient Nick Tolentino, scheduled for surgery at Exeter Hospital. Tolentino had a violent wake up experience after surgery while in the military. He admitted he was reluctant to ever share this with civilian clinicians, primarily due to the stigma he felt it carried. Tolentino acknowledged what haunts him and many veterans alike; the guilt of surviving war when friends at his side were killed.

“You’re always fighting the stigma,” he said. “You were fighting it over there. You’re fighting it when you come home.”

Tolentino’s experience at Exeter was calm and successful thanks to the communication between the surgical team and the support staff at Dare Mighty Things.

New Hampshire lacks a full-service VA hospital, yet has the nation’s fifth highest percentage, a full 11 percent, of veterans. The Manchester-based facility works closely with neighboring Vermont, whose facility in White River Junction closes the gap of their patients’ needs. Directors of both facilities have had positive outcomes to the new initiatives, indicating that the collaboration between government, military and civilian agencies has been successful.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

NH Leading the Way for Veterans: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Needed: A Better Measure of Fitness? Military Connection

exercise

By Debbie Gregory.

Sailors are getting a reprieve from the much maligned neck-and-torso tape test. But Marines now have something new to be upset about: the Navy Secretary said the change won’t apply to his whole department. This means that Marines are stuck with the test that many view as inaccurate and unfair. It also means that fitness standards for sailors will allow higher body fat percentages.

The tape test has a notoriously high margin of error, and is not an actual measurement of body fat, but instead relies on a neck-to-waist ratio to estimate body fat, which is a particular problem for Marines who are muscular or have a small neck.

The Navy changes are part of an initiative pushed by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to focus on holistic health, curb risky weight-loss methods including starvation, dehydration and the use of questionable supplements.

The Corps “already has a strong fitness culture,” Mabus said, which is why the change won’t apply to Marines.

The Navy has released a host of changes to their fitness regulations in response to critiques from sailors who crammed to make weight under the former system, similar to the test used by the Air Force.

Navy officials say they wanted to move away from a system that punishes sailors for failing fitness tests and instead implement one that encourages year-round fitness. Other Navy initiatives include healthier food choices. Instead of fried foods being offered in their chow halls, sailors will now be introduced to color-coded dishes, with green labels indicating the healthiest choices.

The Navy also plans to run a pilot program in the Pacific Fleet and Navy Reserve using fitness trackers that you can strap to the body, like Fitbits. But this idea has met with much resistance.

Vice Adm. Bill Moran, chief of naval personnel, said, “Fitness should truly be about being healthy and mission readiness — are you physically fit for times of combat and stress in the fleet?”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Needed: A Better Measure of Fitness? Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Military Connection

Military Connection: consumer financial protection bureau

By Debbie Gregory.

When leaving active duty, many servicemembers are unsure how to set a path to financial security. The Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program may offer assistnace with finding the right job and re-establishing a permanent residence, but may not provide a good financial management plan.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has recently established a financial coaching program, with a goal to provide 60 financial coaches at job centers and nonprofits across the country to assist veterans free of charge.

In addition to the some 250,000 military personnel leaving active duty each year, the Financial Coaching Initiative also supports those who may have recently become unemployed. It’s estimated that 49.1 million people are living below the poverty line, and an additional 68 million are financially underserved. With this initiative, more of these vulnerable consumers may make better financial decisions and reach their financial goals.

The organizations hosting these financial coaches were selected by the CFPB after a nationwide search, in partnership with the Department of Labor. They plan to assist with resources for employment and training programs, especially to gain skills in growing industries.

The CFPB is a landmark agency whose sole mission is to protect consumers in the financial marketplace. Utilizing various authorities such as regulation, enforcement, market research, financial education, and the authority to deal directly with consumer complaints, the CFPB is working to restore trust in consumer financial products and services.

The Financial Coaching Initiative proudly states that it is the first program paid for by the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund. In a three year period, the FCI forecasts that it will served tens of thousands consumers.

“Having a trusted, well-informed financial coaches can increase your odds of financial success,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

More information is available here.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their families. We are the go-to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go-to site.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory