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Until every one comes home | The Magazine of the USO

Wall of Fire

July 28, 2014, 4:41PM

Marines train to fight fires and rescue aircraft on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. McMahonMarines train to fight fires and rescue aircraft on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. McMahon

Hot Topics for July 28

July 28, 2014, 9:24AM |

Veterans' Affairs committee chairmen reach deal on legislation (CBS News) 

US Says China Tested Anti-Satellite Missile (Associated Press)

Army officials on 'pink slip' controversy: We don't have a choice (Washington Post)

Plan for new Navy SEAL campus (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Survivors of cruiser Indianapolis sinking reunite (Associated Press) 

AF takes aim at obesity in dependents, retirees (Air Force Times) 

Touching Down

July 25, 2014, 1:20PM

An F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Margaret KeithAn F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Margaret Keith

Changes to military postal operations will save the Defense Department $4 million annually while providing services comparable to those of any U.S. Postal Service office, a senior Military Postal Service Agency official told DOD News.

James Clark, chief of the agency’s operations division, said the changes will go into effect during October and November.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Dolor seals a bag of outgoing mail at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia in 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones Air Force Staff Sgt. Eugene Dolor seals a bag of outgoing mail at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia in 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones “As it relates to the Internet Change of Address and Postal Automated Redirection System, we are automating the redirection process of first class military mail,” he said. “It will improve transit times. It would save costs in both transportation and labor overseas, and improve overall services.”

The Military Postal Service Agency facilitated the transition to a more efficient system that’s in line with the USPS and will produce millions of dollars in savings for DOD.

“When we did the business case study we had to determine what our return on investment would be,” Clark said. “So we did that with all the major commands, solicited their input, and are looking at $4 million in cost avoidance each year across DOD.”

This takes into account labor and transportation costs, he said, noting that the savings likely will be greater, given the time that has passed since the case study was conducted.

The current redirection process is manual, Clark said, with mail shipped from the United States to overseas servicing military post offices, who then manually redirect it somewhere else – whether that’s to another military installation overseas or back to the United States.

Clark noted when the new process goes into effect domestically, the automated equipment is going to intercept that letter if a change of address is on file and redirect it to the new address.

“One of the biggest things that our customers … need to know is that in addition to their out-processing at the military post office, they’re going to have to go online at USPS.com and complete an Internet change of address,” he said.

Setting his Sights

July 24, 2014, 1:50PM

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Alex Roberts makes adjustments to his M240B machine gun in the turret of his mine-Resistant, ambush-protected vehicle on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Alex Roberts makes adjustments to his M240B machine gun in the turret of his mine-Resistant, ambush-protected vehicle on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson

Belize Swim

July 23, 2014, 7:37PM

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brent Draper, foreground, and other divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, dive with Belize coast guard members at Belize's Blue Hole in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brett CoteU.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brent Draper, foreground, and other divers assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, dive with Belize coast guard members at Belize's Blue Hole in the Caribbean Sea. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brett Cote

Storm the Beach

July 18, 2014, 1:30PM

U.S. Marines and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers run as they emerge from the water while practicing small-unit techniques as part of the Japan Observer Exchange Program at Kin Blue Beach, Okinawa, Japan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Henry AntenorU.S. Marines and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers run as they emerge from the water while practicing small-unit techniques as part of the Japan Observer Exchange Program at Kin Blue Beach, Okinawa, Japan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Henry Antenor

Scanning from the Sky

July 16, 2014, 1:46PM

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kenneth Morris scans the area for any suspicious activity on the ground during a mission over Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Frances JohnsonU.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Kenneth Morris scans the area for any suspicious activity on the ground during a mission over Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working to develop wireless, implantable brain prostheses for service members and veterans who suffer memory loss from traumatic brain injury.

Called neuroprotheses, the implant would help declarative memory, which consciously recalls basic knowledge such as events, times and places, DARPA officials said.

To overcome such memory deficits, "these neuroprosthetics will be designed to bridge the gaps in the injured brain to help restore that memory function," said Dr. Justin Sanchez, DARPA Restoring Active Memory Program manager. "Our vision is to develop neuroprosthetics for memory recovery in patients living with brain injury and dysfunction," he said.

The neuroprosthetics developed and tested over the next four years would be as a wireless, fully implantable neural-interface medical device for human clinical use, Sanchez explained.

Each year in the United States, traumatic brain injury affects about 270,000 service members and another 1.7 million civilians, he said.

"The traumatic brain injury is really a very devastating injury," said Dr. Geoffrey Ling, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran who worked in both war zones studying TBI for former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen.

"One of the biggest consequences of [TBI memory loss] is the ability to do normal functions," Ling said. "How is somebody going to have their livelihood if they can't remember how to do simple tasks?"

DARPA's neuroprostheses development is expected to yield "remarkable" benefits for service members and for civilians throughout the world, Ling noted. "But right now our focus here is on those injured service members."

While development of the implant encompasses four years, Sanchez said, one of the goals is to start phasing in some early prototype devices the first year and to collect preliminary data to help guide more complex parts later in the project.

"This is a truly remarkable period of time," Sanchez said. "To think about how we are going to learn about memory in the human brain, to think about the potential for developing those next generation medical neuroprosthetic devices that can provide new options for our injured military personnel, is truly remarkable."

Getting Loose in the Open Field

July 14, 2014, 6:24PM

U.S. Marines sprint across a field to load onto a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan U.S. Marines sprint across a field to load onto a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan

Dust Below

July 11, 2014, 1:38PM

A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush takes off after a joint fire exercise with Army AH-64 Apaches and Air Force joint terminal attack controllers near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. New York Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Harley Jeli A Navy MH-60S Seahawk helicopter assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush takes off after a joint fire exercise with Army AH-64 Apaches and Air Force joint terminal attack controllers near Camp Buehring, Kuwait. New York Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Harley Jeli

Balance Buddies

July 9, 2014, 6:34PM

U.S. Navy Lt. Diane Kruse, left, and Lt. Alyse Dason practice yoga poses on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Margaret KeithU.S. Navy Lt. Diane Kruse, left, and Lt. Alyse Dason practice yoga poses on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Margaret Keith

Getting a Lift

July 8, 2014, 3:42PM

Army Sgt. Michael Severin guides the hoist from inside a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to bring up Army Sgt. 1st Class Greg Holland during the fourth annual Great Plains Zone Interagency Helicopter Medevac training near Pactola Reservoir, S.D. National Guard photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Theanne TangenArmy Sgt. Michael Severin guides the hoist from inside a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to bring up Army Sgt. 1st Class Greg Holland during the fourth annual Great Plains Zone Interagency Helicopter Medevac training near Pactola Reservoir, S.D. National Guard photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Tangen

Incoming

July 2, 2014, 1:44PM

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooks Graham, left, directs a landing craft air cushion into the well deck of the USS Peleliu following a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will GaskillU.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooks Graham, left, directs a landing craft air cushion into the well deck of the USS Peleliu following a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Gaskill

Old Glory

July 2, 2014, 7:20AM |

When he was a child, George Washington and all the children of his generation saluted the flag of England. 

When their colony became the United States of America, the 1777 Constitutional Congress decided a new flag should be saluted, “representing a new constellation.”

A resolution signed on June 14 of that year established Old Glory as the emblem of freedom. For the past 237 seven years under this flag, the struggles for independence were carried on and battles were won and lost.

A U.S. Marine by the name of Howard Schnauber, orphaned at an early age, fought in both World War II and the Korean War and received four Purple Hearts. Upon his return from World War II, he wrote the poem “My Name Is Old Glory” as a way to help children appreciate and learn respect for the flag.

The first time I heard the poem I could barely hold back my emotion. The powerful verse was recited at a military retirement ceremony while the folded flag was ceremoniously presented to the honored veteran. The sentiment of this poem’s words had a striking effect on everyone in the audience. After witnessing this reaction, I was determined to find out who wrote this mighty tribute.

My friend and co-author Trish Marx joined me in creating a tribute to this poem and the American flag. We are pleased and honored to share the power and presence of “My Name Is Old Glory” with you. The American flag is an expression of what unites us as Americans. As Howard Schnauber realized years ago, our flag is also a beacon for the world – it stands for freedom.

“My Name Is Old Glory” celebrates the spirit of the United States of America and the true love Americans have for their country. This book highlights historical events that unfold from the War of 1812, when the “Star Spangled Banner” was written, to the present day, with moving and inspiring photographs of our flag, our people and our nation celebrating and honoring our country.

The story of our flag, our people and our nation is not finished – nor is the power of the enduring American spirit embodied by Old Glory. 

“My Name is Old Glory” is a beautiful celebration of the American Flag the whole family as well as guests can enjoy. With every purchase, a portion of the proceeds will go to assist service members and their families through the USO.

Schnauber’s poem, now called “I Am the Flag,” can be read here.

—Martha LaGuardia-Kotite is the co-author of “My Name Is Old Glory: A Celebration of the Star-Spangled Banner" which can be purchased at all major booksellers.