October 2, 2009
A SHOT IN THE ARM: GUARD GEARS UP FOR FLU SEASON
Army and Air National Guard members are scheduled to receive vaccinations against the seasonal flu and the H1N1 flu virus beginning in early November, according to information from the National Guard Bureau.
The exact date that Guard members will receive the H1N1 vaccine will be dictated by the Defense Department or their state's plan for distributing the vaccine.
"The (Centers for Disease Control) is really the lead on distributing the vaccine through the public health system and every state has its own plan on how they are going to set it up," said Capt. Lisa Burg, a medical plans officer with the NGB's joint surgeon's office. "Most National Guard soldiers and airmen are basically in the plan for the state they are in."
However, that may change in the near future because there is "an increasing likelihood DoD will provide the vaccine to cover the entire Army Guard, regardless of status," said Col. Rob Brown, the chief surgeon of the Army National Guard.
Guard members on active duty or Title 10 orders are already scheduled to receive the vaccination through their host military treatment facility, said Maj. James Coker of the Air National Guard's surgeon general's office.
Both groups will receive the vaccinations in accordance with prioritization guidelines set forth by the DoD and the CDC. The DoD priority list is still being worked out, said Coker.
Some states have already starting providing the seasonal flu vaccines to Guard members, said Brown, who emphasized its importance.
"Get it now," he said. "It's required. Don't forget - unless your medical doctor says otherwise."
He added, "You owe it to yourself, your family and your fellow soldier to get your flu vaccinations, seasonal and H1N1."
Guard members are encouraged to contact their chain of command or their state medical command for more information on vaccinations against H1N1 and the seasonal flu.
REGISTER ONLINE TODAY FOR EMERGENCY VA CHECKS
Veterans can begin registering online or at Veterans Affairs regional offices today to receive emergency payments for education benefits. Veterans without a means to reach a regional office can also request courtesy transportation.
"Our veterans went the extra mile for their country," said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. "One of the top priorities in transforming VA is to be, first and foremost, the advocate for veterans."
The emergency payments of up to $3,000 became necessary when the department was unable to process in a timely fashion all of the applications for education benefits veterans can receive through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which went into effect in August.
Some veterans were taking out loans or dipping into their savings to pay for college expenses they expected to be paid by the GI Bill benefits.
Shinseki responded by saying veterans could receive emergency payments, which will eventually be deducted from future benefits, at any of the VA's 57 regional offices. However, because some veterans live far from the centers, the VA is making it possible to register for the quick payment online at www.va.gov. It is also making free transportation available.
Veterans are asked to bring proper identification and evidence of enrollment to receive the payments.
"VA is adapting to meet the financial needs of our veteran-students who are on campus," Shinseki said. "They should be focusing on their studies, not worrying about financial difficulties."
VA officials said they do not know how many veterans will ask for the payments, but about 25,000 claims are pending that may result in payments to students.
ADDED PROTECTION: M-ATVs ARRIVE IN AFGHANISTAN
A version of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle that has saved lives in Iraq has begun arriving in Afghanistan. The first delivery of the M-ATV was Wednesday with more than 6,600 expected to arrive over the next year to protect troops from improvised explosive devices.
"This is just the first wave of a massive production and transportation program that will see at least 6,644 of these life-saving vehicles delivered to our forces in Afghanistan over the next year or so, making it one of the fastest and highest-priority acquisition programs in the history of the Defense Department," Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, told reporters.
Three M-ATVs were loaded onto a C-17 and four more were put aboard a C-5 at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., Tuesday and flown to Afghanistan.
The mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles, or M-ATVs, are patterned after the MRAPs, which were sent to Iraq to protect troops from the deadly roadside bombs. However, the MRAPs proved too cumbersome for the unimproved roads and rugged terrain of Afghanistan so a new version was needed.
The contract for the M-ATV was awarded three months ago to Oshkosh Corp.
The vehicle supports small-unit combat operations in highly restricted rural, mountainous and urban environments that include mounted patrols, reconnaissance, security, convoy protection, communications, command and control, and combat service support. It is designed to replace the up-armored Humvee and carries up to five personnel, including the gunner.
"These new vehicles are urgently needed because improvised explosive devices are claiming the lives of more U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan than ever before," Morrell said.
He said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who pushed for the MRAP in Iraq, is watching the M-ATV program "like a hawk" to ensure it serves its intended purpose in Afghanistan.
OCTOBER MAGAZINE HIGHLIGHTS 131ST GENERAL CONFERENCE
From the music to the speakers to the venue, the 131st NGAUS General Conference in Nashville, Tenn., was a memorable one. Attendees can relive it and those who weren't in Nashville can find out what they missed with this month's edition of National Guard, which is being mailed today.
More than a dozen pages filled with photos and stories chronicle the event, from the opening of the record-setting trade show and the raucous Roll Call of States to the insightful speakers and rousing show at the Grand Ole Opry on closing night.
Air Force leaders who addressed the gathering made no promises regarding future F-35 fighter bed-downs in the Air Guard and promoted other missions suitable for citizen-airmen. Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, the Air Guard director, spoke to airmen and hinted at a plan that would move empty slots in one state to a state that is over strength.
Also, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., pushed for new F-15s, F-16s and F-18s for the Air Guard while the force waits for the F-35.
Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff, told of his battle against the rising suicide rate in his service. He blamed the stress of continued deployments, but said there is no easy answer to the scourge affecting the force.
You'll also read how country music superstars Charlie Daniels and Wynonna feel about performing before military audiences.
The magazine also describes the unique mission of the D.C. National Guard, which is at the center of many important national events
And two top NGAUS officials tell how the Pentagon's decision to eliminate the Army's fixed-wing mission of supplying troops in combat could have a negative impact on the war fighter.
All of this and more is in the October issue of National Guard.
BY THE WAY: Transcripts from the 131st NGAUS General Conference and Exhibition are now available in the conference area of the NGAUS Web site, www.ngaus.org/131stconference. ... The NGAUS offices in Washington, D.C., will be closed Nov. 9 in observance of Veterans Day. ... The next meeting of the NGAUS Board of Directors will be Nov. 13 to 15 at the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C.
NGAUS and several distinguished guests celebrated President Harry S. Truman's 100th birthday at the National Guard Memorial in Washington, D.C., in May 1984. The color guard of the former president's Missouri National Guard unit, Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, 35th Infantry Division, took part in the event.
The festivities coincided with the 25th anniversary of the original memorial building's dedication, an event at which Truman presided.
The evening officially commenced when Mrs. Olive Truman, wife of Maj. Gen. Ralph Truman, cousin of the 33rd president, cut the red ribbon to open the "Captain Harry" exhibit housed in the Heritage Gallery for the next several months.
THIS WEEK IN GUARD HISTORY
Oct. 4, 1822: Delaware, Ohio - Rutherford B. Hayes, who would become the nation's 19th president, is born.
Within days of the outbreak of the Civil War, Hayes left his successful law practice in Cincinnati and, despite no prior military experience, received an appointment as major in the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. William McKinley, who would become the nation's 25th president, was a private in the same regiment.
Displaying strong leadership and personal courage - he was wounded in combat four times - Hayes, unlike many politically connected officers, proved a talented leader, rising to the rank of major general of volunteers by the end of the war. He once told former comrades that their wartime service constituted "the best years of our lives."
After the war, he served one term in the House of Representatives and was elected three times as the governor of Ohio before running on the Republican ticket for president in 1876. Following the most contentious election in American history, Hayes was declared the 19th president in 1877.
He served only one term. In fact, he advocated making the presidency a one-term office, but expanding the single term to six years. He died in 1893.
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