Military Connection: Army Master Fitness Trainers: By Debbie Gregory

Army MFTMilitary branches are slimming down in a number of ways. Both the Army and Air Force have already seen down-sizing in both their officer and enlisted ranks. But the DOD is also tasking its branches with getting leaner and more physically fit.

As part of this tasking, the Army has taken to a few new programs to help facilitate the process.

The first program is Physical Readiness Training (PRT). Focusing not just on exercise, but also on nutrition and physiology, the implementation of PRT has been considered the biggest improvement in Army fitness training for more than thirty years.

PRT was originally launched in 2010. The program was revamped,  and launched again in 2012. Though gaining ground, the program was widely underutilized by individual commanders, who have control on how to train their soldiers.

As part of the PRT program, the Army is in the process of training thousands of NCO’s to become Master Fitness Trainers (MFT). These MFT’s will be the designated fitness experts for their commands. To be chosen to train as an MFT, soldiers are selected by their command, not just for their superior Army Physical Fitness Test scores, but also for their leadership abilities.

At the four week MFT course, participants learn how to properly instruct others by first learning how to do each exercise correctly. There’s no better way to learn than by doing.

While the MFT course is physically rigorous, it also contains classroom lessons on how each exercise affects the body, and how improper techniques can lead to injuries. The course also trains the MFTs on the use of performance nutrition. They learn how to determine the caloric and hydration needs of soldiers in various environments and activities.

Once their training is complete, the newly minted MFTs return to their command. They are ready to lead physical fitness programs, including PT sessions, dietary regiments and training that puts an emphasis on specific fitness areas, depending on that command’s mission and need.

More than 2,000 MFTs have already been trained.

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.

Military Connection: Army Master Fitness Trainers:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Disabled Recruits? By Debbie Gregory

Disabled enlisteesWhile it would seem that years of fighting a war could result in a desensitized society, in actual fact, recent conflicts have had the opposite effect. The long-standing “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has been repealed, and the role of women in the military is ever-expanding, inching ever closer to combat. Additionally, service members who were wounded to the point of being disabled are not forced out of uniform, but instead, are given non-combat positions so that they can still serve their country. Currently, there is a push to permit disabled men and women, who were not disabled due to military service, to enlist to serve their country.

The charge is being led by popular senator and disabled Veteran Bob Dole. Dole served in the U.S. Army during WWII, and was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Dole was severely wounded by German machine gun fire, leaving him permanently disabled.

Dole heads a group of senators from both parties who are pushing for the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The agreement, already in place in 141 other countries, is modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, and requires countries to provide disabled citizens equality under the law.

Concerns over whether adopting the treaty would lead to extreme regulations on U.S. employers has stalled its momentum in the Senate. But the senators who support the adoption of the treaty don’t believe that its implementation would have any ill-effects on American businesses. They believe that the treaty will do much to re-establish the U.S. as a leader in providing employment opportunities and protections for its disabled citizens.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin even included an amendment in a Senate draft of the annual defense appropriations bill that would require the military to research the prospect of permitting disabled men and women to enlist in the military in non-combat roles.

The DOD currently abides by a federal law that requires “reasonable accommodations” be made for disabled civilian employees, but no such exceptions are currently in place for enlistees into the military.

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.

Military Connection: Disabled Recruits?  By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Two Army Losses in One Week: By Debbie Gregory

Army lossesAn insider attack at Camp Qargha, near Kabul, Afghanistan, killed one and wounded fourteen others on August 5th. The deceased is an Army major general, whose identity has yet to be released. The death of this 2-star general marks the highest ranking casualty the U.S. has suffered in Afghanistan.

It has been reported that an individual dressed in an Afghan soldier’s uniform shot the general at close range with a light machine gun. It is not yet clear if the shooter was an actual member of the Afghan security force who turned on his allies, **or** an insurgent in a stolen uniform. Besides killing the general, the gunman wounded a German brigadier general, as well as more than a dozen NATO personnel, half of whom have been reported to be Americans. News sources say that the German general will survive his injuries. There have been no further reports on the others wounded.

The Taliban had previously released statements stating their intent to infiltrate NATO forces and commit “insider” attacks, in order to display their ability to do so. The use of infiltration attacks has created mistrust and caused altercations between coalition forces and their Afghan allies.

This attack is the second death of the week for the U.S. Army. On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Girard Gass Jr., from Lumber Bridge, NC, was killed in a non-combat related incident. Gass was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group out of Fort Bragg.

With the deaths of Staff Sgt. Gass and the fallen general, the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan has reached 2,341.

The staff at Military Connection would like to send our deepest condolences to the families, comrades and friends of Staff Sgt. Gass and the fallen general.

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.

Military Connection: 2 Army Losses in 1 Week:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: USAF Prepares for Future Foes: By Debbie Gregory

041016-F-2171A-001Since 2001, the U.S. military has been engaged in constant warfare against enemies who do not possess anywhere near the level of technology and training that our forces have. Because the fighting has been mainly ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, our Air Force has been mostly grounded, in terms of both fighting aerial battles and researching new advancements in warfare that would be needed to fight an opponent closer to our technological equal.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of the budget for every military branch was spent on manpower and logistics needed for those campaigns. Training for fighting advanced military forces took a backseat.

Now that our forces are currently out of Iraq and in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Air Force is the first branch to jump at the opportunity to prepare itself to fight an adversary that possesses advanced weaponry and defense systems.

This entails training jet pilots to combat surface-to-air missiles, in order to expose them to as-close-to combat scenarios as possible. During the Vietnam War, the Air Force discovered that most pilots were going to get shot down within their first ten combat missions. With that in mind, if the Air Force can make their training as complex and representative to combat as can be, they can almost provide the equivalent of the pilots’ first ten missions in a training environment, thus sending more experienced pilots into the skies.

One of the main training centers for training of this type is held at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas. Nellis is home to the Air Force’s Red Flag air combat exercise. Red Flag provides Air Force pilots with the intense, chaotic training regiments that are intended to replace a new pilot’s first ten missions. Programs such as Red Flag saw a huge drop in funding during the past twelve years of war.

With constant threats of war looming in several corners of the world, the danger of possibly having to fight an opponent closer to our operational capabilities is real. Russia’s daily infringement on Ukraine’s sovereignty, the war in Gaza, and the ever-present possibility of increased tensions with North Korea, Iran and a number of other nations could send America to war with countries that are equipped with weapons more advanced than those of Al Qaida and the Taliban.

Let us hope that diplomacy will continue to keep our nation’s citizens and interests safe from harm. But our military needs to be prepared in case the day comes when diplomacy fails.

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.

Military Connection: USAF Prepares for Future Foes:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Navy’s Budget Too High: By Debbie Gregory

Navy 30 yr planWhether it’s to protect shipping lanes, provide humanitarian aid following a catastrophe, **or** supporting our interests and our allies in conflict, our Navy functions to be positioned where it matters, when it matters, anywhere around the world. Like the advertisements say, the U.S. Navy is “a global force for good.”

Keeping up a global presence for the world’s finest Navy is an expensive venture. Maintaining technologically relevant and operation-ready ships is a constant task, and an unceasing expenditure. The Navy’s recent release of its Report to Congress on the Annual Long-Range Plan for Construction of Naval Vessels for FY2015, commonly referred to as the Navy’s 30-year Shipbuilding Plan, shows that the branch will not meet its shipbuilding needs with current funding.

The Navy’s shipbuilding budget has averaged approximately $13 billion/year. According to the report, prepared by the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy won’t be able to sustain the building of new ships between the years of 2025-2034, with the current amount of funding.

The report outlines challenges that the Navy will face when attempting to increase its fleet from 289 to 306 vessels. The bulk of the increased ships will come from the eventual building of twelve new Ohio-class submarines. There are also two more Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, one more America-class amphibious assault ship, and several more Freedom-class and Independence-class littoral combat ships. And of course, some current ships will be decommissioned in the process as well.

The Navy estimates that the average cost during the period between FY2025-2034, when the service will be spending the most, will be $19.7 billion a year. This includes the estimated $24 billion per year in FY2032, when building is expected to be at its peak.

The report found that even if the Ohio-class building project was completely removed from the Navy’s shipbuilding plan, the costs for maintaining and replenishing their fleet would still be over $15 billion per year, starting in 2020.

While immediate projects are not affected, Congress and the Department of the Navy need to figure out a workable budget sooner rather than later, one that doesn’t involve cutting everything. Maintaining a progressive Navy is critical to U.S. military success, and to the American way of life.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp,amp, 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.

Military Connection: Navy’s Budget Too High: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: U.S. Army Mourns 3 Fallen: By Debbie Gregory

3 Fallen soldiersWhile the focus of military/Veteran minded Americans has been on VA reform, Military budget cuts and Veterans transitioning back into civilian life, it is important to remember that while war continues, the lives of those who serve are still in peril. The ongoing loss of American lives serves to remind us of this fact.

On Thursday, July 24, 2014, two U.S. Army soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Additionally, another soldier died stateside from an illness linked to his deployment in Afghanistan.

The three deceased soldiers have been identified as:

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Prange, 30, from Hickam, Nebraska

Pfc. Keith Williams, 19, from Visalia, California

Pfc. Donnell Hamilton, 20, from Kenosha, Wisconsin

Staff Sgt. Prange and Pfc. Williams died in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, as the result of an explosion from an improvised explosive device. Both soldiers were members of the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo.

Pfc. Hamilton died at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he was being treated for an illness that he contracted during his deployment to the Ghanzi province with the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan are scheduled to conclude at the end of this year. However, the Commander-in-chief has said that as many as 10,000 U.S. soldiers could remain in Afghanistan if a security agreement between the two nations is made.

The families, friends and comrades of these fallen soldiers have our deepest sympathy.

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.

Military Connection: U.S. Army Mourns 3 Fallen:   By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Commissary Cuts Postponed 1yr: By Debbie Gregory

CommissaryAs the economy struggles to rebound,  there are many government programs that will need to be trimmed down *****or***** eliminated completely. The defense department’s budget is not exempted from the reductions, and neither are the programs that affect the members of the DOD and their families.

But military families recently dodged a bullet, after the Senate budget panel voted to restore $200 million in cuts from commissaries.

Base commissaries are essentially supermarkets. The program is run by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which falls under the DOD. Commissaries sell basic food and household goods, most of which can also be found at the Base Exchange (which is more like a Wal-Mart). Commissaries are different from exchanges in that  they try to offer the same products to service members and military families, no matter where they are in the world, at a subsidized price.

While civilians who are unfamiliar with commissaries may see the program as a handout, most military families see commissaries as part of their income, and one of the benefits that caused them to jointhe military. Service members don’t make much in the way of base pay. In order to make ends meet, most military families rely on the other military benefits, including Base Allowance for Housing (BAH), subsidized on-base gas stations, military banking centers, base exchanges and commissaries. The DeCA estimates that the average military family saves more than $4,000 per year by shopping at the commissary.

It takes an estimated $1.4 billion each year to operate 178 commissaries located within the U.S. and the additional 67 commissaries located overseas. Last year, there were talks of eliminating commissaries completely. The Senate budget panel recently voted on whether *****or***** not to cut $200 million from the program, which the DeCA estimates would have cost military families approximately $1,500 per year in higher prices.

The commissary has not been saved for good. The panel only agreed to put off cuts for one year.

Civilians might question why service members don’t just do their shopping in town. But service members and their families sacrifice so much, and in reality, earn so little, that these benefits are not perks, they are necessities. Saving money by shopping at the commissary helps military familiesafford a better life… one that they have truly sacrificed for and deserve.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp, 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.

Military Connection: Commissary Cuts Postponed 1yr: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: 11 More Army SHARP Centers: By Debbie Gregory

Sharp_logoBefore 2013, the U.S. Army didn’t have any sexual assault response centers. Soon, there will twelve.

In July, 2013, the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Center opened at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington. The center was the first of its kind for the Army, *****or***** any branch of the U.S. Military for that matter.

The SHARP Center consolidates legal, medical, mental health, advocacy and education services in one location. Previously, victims would have to go to different offices on base for each of these services, often having to revisit the traumatic experiences while speaking with advocates at each stop.

The one-stop SHARP Center is intended to make it easier for soldiers who have been victims of sexual assault to report misconduct, and seek any assistance that they need. Soldiers can go to the center to report a sexual assault, especially important if they don’t want to go through their units. Since misconduct can often stem from members of their unit’s leadership and involve parties that are familiar with each other, having to go through their own unit makes reporting the misconduct more stressful.

Soldiers and officers in leadership and command positions can also use the SHARP center to better serve their soldiers who have reported a sexual assault. Staff at the center provides them with information regarding the process of a case, and can help them to better understand what their soldier is going through.

The Army has announced plans to replicate the SHARP Center model at 11 other posts.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard &amp,amp, 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.

Military Connection: 11 More Army SHARP Centers: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Changes/Cuts for Air Force: By Debbie Gregory

Air force cuts

By Debbie Gregory

With a struggling economy and more than a decade of heightened defense budgets to support two wars, the U.S. military is already in a  period of transition that will see  budget cut and forced downsizing. No branch of the military is exempted from this reality.

Most recently, the Air Force announced that it will be reducing its ranks and implementing a new numbered Air Force to oversee intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

On July 14, 2014, Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James announced that a total of 3,459 positions will be eliminated in an attempt to save $1.6 billion over the next five years. These cuts come one year after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered each of the four DOD services to reduce their headquarters staff by twenty percent.

“We are aggressively pursuing these cuts within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DOD,” Secretary James said. “It’s better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs.”

The Air Force Management Headquarters Review is intent on deactivating and realigning organizations at headquarters and major commands. The Air force cannot yet announce who will be let go.  The staff members have not even been notified yet. But it has been reported that the largest cuts, 742 positions, will be made at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, followed by 734 at the Pentagon.

The biggest change coming to the branch is the creation of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, which will handle installation support. Currently, installation support is handled at each major command. The new headquarters will have a staff of 350.

The Air Force will also be merging the duties of some staff from the operations, plans and requirements (A3/5) and strategic plans and programs (A8) into a new operations office. Current programming functions in the strategic plans and programs office will fall under the Air Force’s financial management organization.

Also, for the first time since 2009, the service will create a new numbered Air Force. The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency will now be known as the 25th Air Force. The 25th Air Force will oversee all training and operations of ISR air craft and be aligned under Air Combat Command. Its headquarters will be at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & 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.

Military Connection: Changes/Cuts for Air Force: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: More Help for Military Kids: By Debbie Gregory

military kids

By Debbie Gregory

A study released in March, 2014 focused on the children of service members and Veterans wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The “Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members” was conducted by the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the University of San Diego.

The study was conducted by interviewing 125 participants over a one year period. The participants included seriously wounded service members, their spouses and children, as well as military, civilian and nonprofit experts who work with these families. The study was intended to assess the children’s needs, and determine what services were already available to meet those needs.

According to the study, an estimated 2 million children across the U.S. have been affected by wartime deployment since Sept. 11, 2001. More than 48,000 children have a parent who was injured in combat. Of those, 4,235 children have a parent who was seriously wounded in action. The state of California leads the country in seriously injured post-9/11 service members.

The study also found that invisible wounds of war, including psychological injuries like PTSD and physical injuries such as TBI, may be more significant for families of seriously wounded Veterans. Because of their unpredictable nature, these wounds in a parent can cause subsequent emotional scarring and isolation in the children of wounded parents. But by meeting other families who are facing similar issues, military families with seriously wounded Veterans can better cope.

The study recommends the formation of a consortium of groups currently working to support the families of wounded Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. This collaborative effort would be more capable of centralizing services provided to families in need.

So far, about a dozen groups have attended an initial assembly, and plan to hold quarterly meetings in order to share information and resources.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & 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.

Military Connection: More Help for Military Kids: By Debbie Gregory