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Meet Your Military: Wounded Warrior Begins Second Career

[caption id="attachment_3668" align="alignleft" width="250"]WoundedWarriorBegins Erik Stewart discusses preparations for an upcoming higher-headquarters assessment with Ward Philips at Fort Riley, Kan., Nov. 6, 2009. Stewart was a soldier in Fort Riley's warrior transition battalion who transitioned to a civilian career with the Fort Riley garrison. U.S. Army photo by Alison Kohler[/caption] FORT RILEY, Kan. A former soldier who spent about 16 months in the warrior transition battalion here now looks forward to a rewarding career as an Army civilian.
Former Army Capt. Erik Stewart advises other warriors in transition not to rush the process."Make sure you're healthy and as whole as you can be," Stewart said. "It's all about your attitude. If you have a positive attitude and you work with the doctors, it goes well."Stewart, 38, from Wakefield, Kan., currently on leave, saw his Army career of more than 19 years officially end Nov. 18. He now has a promising future ahead of him working in the plans, mobilization, training and security directorate here as an emergency management specialist.Stewart uses his 15 years of experience as a military police officer and four years as an engineer in his new job. "There's some stuff I'm still learning, but the emergency management aspect of it, it works out," he said. The married father of four said he spent a lot of time looking before he landed the GS-12 civil service position. Learning to navigate the online civil service application process was tough, he acknowledged. "In the Army, you get orders [and] you show up,” he said. “You don't have to bring your accomplishments with you. You don't have to worry about that in the military. That was stressful." His civilian job has him preparing emergency management plans and, if necessary, assisting in emergency response. He’s in charge of Fort Riley's Ready Army program, currently concentrating on the post’s management of H1N1 flu. Though he misses the Army’s unit camaraderie, he said, working as a civilian has its advantages. "No more deployments, and no more alerts,” he said. “[You] come home every weekend and every night.” Stewart was wounded by a roadside bomb in the tenth month of his third deployment. For a while, he tried to tough it out, he said. "I got to where I was trying to get in and out of a vehicle and I couldn't do it, and I was in pain all the time - my back, my groin, my head and my arm,” he said. “I was having trouble holding on to my rifle, and I couldn't wear my gear without my back or my groin hurting. I was having trouble concentrating." He was sent here through the Army’s regional medical center at Landstuhl, Germany, and was assigned to the warrior transition battalion. "[I was] scared at first, because I've been doing this since high school,” he said. “When I first got there, I was just going to appointments, and that was OK at first, because I had been gone for like 39 months with deployment, home, deployment, home. Then I realized I was bored; I needed to find something to do." He tried to take college classes, but ended up having to withdraw three times, he said, because he couldn't focus and study. Stewart completed an unpaid internship with a nature center and looked into a welding program at a technical college. His wife mentioned looking for a job on Fort Riley, so he began to learn about applying for civil service positions. Though he expected a long wait after he interviewed for his current position, he said, he was selected the following day, and he has been on the civilian payroll since September. He advises other warriors in transition to make a plan, including financial plans, for what they need to have and where they will be in three months and in five years. "They can't just [say], 'I'm going to get out and live at my folks' house’, or ‘I'm going to move home,'” he said. That's not a plan." But before they make plans for life after the Army, Stewart said, soldiers should first get all the help they need. "Don't get out just to get away from it all," he advised. Most importantly, he added, warriors in transition need to take a step back when everything seems overwhelming. "It's easy to get caught up in 'Woe is me,' and it's easy to go to the dark, depressed place,” he said. “Take a big problem and break it down. It's like a wall, but if you take it down a brick at a time, eventually the wall's gone." (Alison Kohler works in the Irwin Army Community Hospital public affairs office at Fort Riley.) Nov. 24, 2009: By Alison Kohler: Special to American Forces Press Service ***SOT***

Meet Your Military: Contracts Manager Retires After 38 Years

[caption id="attachment_3663" align="alignleft" width="250"]ContractsManagerRetires Pamela Day, who retired Nov. 19 after 38 years of civilian service with the military, most recently as director of Depot-Level Reparable Procurement Operations for Defense Logistics Agency Ogden, speaks to family, friends and co-workers during her retirement ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Air Force photo by James Arrowood[/caption] HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – There's a pair of shoes at Utah’s Hill Air Force Base that will be hard to fill. They once belonged to Pamela Day, who retired last week after 38 years of federal service.
Day, who most recently served as director of depot-level reparable procurement operations for Defense Logistics Agency-Ogden, was recognized during a Nov. 19 retirement ceremony at Hill Aerospace Museum.“Finding a professional contracting manager who is Pam’s equal in federal government will be difficult, to say the least,” said Yvette Burke, acquisition executive for DLA’s aviation demand and supply chain, Defense Supply Center Richmond, Va. DLA Ogden is the forward arm of the Richmond supply center at Hill. “Her knowledge, experience, dedication and enthusiastic approach have been invaluable assets throughout her career, and they have been of immeasurable benefit to the warfighters she dedicated her life to supporting.”Burke praised Day for her leadership and willingness to take on challenging missions and accomplish them based on her understanding and steadfast support of America’s military men and women. “After all, the first breath Pam ever took in this world was on a military installation,” Burke said, noting that Day was born at Alameda Naval Station in California while her father served in the Navy. “But at heart, Pam is a Utah girl through and through—she was raised in Clinton, graduated from Clearfield High School, and earned her undergraduate degree from Weber State and Park College.” Day began working for the federal government as a supply clerk at the Bureau of Reclamation in 1971 and later became a purchasing agent. Recalling that first job and her subsequent Air Force career, Day said, “I learned that it takes longer to process an environmental statement than it does to complete a source selection – amazing.” In 1976, Day entered the contracting field and began working for the Air Force at Hill, where she has been ever since. She has served in a variety of positions, including contract negotiator; contracting officer; chief of the commodities, services and construction branches in operational contracting; chief of the aircraft contracting division; and as chief of contracting for the aircraft and commodities sustainment wings. Day distinguished herself on numerous successful department programs, including her work on the Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineering Requirements contract – a pilot program – and the $450 million, multiple-award Remedial Action Contract program. She was an instrumental leader in the A-76 Consolidated Study involving 1,200 full-time employees at Ogden Air Logistics Center. Day played a key role in the $13 billion F-16 Sustainment Contract, managed the first strategic sourcing contract at Hill, and supervised the Decentralized Design Engineering Support Contract – a complex multiple-award contract with involvement from multiple Air Force sites. “Pam was a key player in the $1.2 billion Secondary Power Logistics Solution, Hill Air Force Base’s first performance-based logistics contract,” Burke said. “And, most recently, Pam was actively involved in and supervised the administration of the incredibly innovative $1.5 billion Landing Gear Prime Vendor Contract, an enterprise solution used by both DLA and the Air Force to support the worldwide sustainment of landing gear.” Day was hard pressed to pick a favorite assignment, but said she enjoyed working construction and environmental contracts. “F-16 [Sustainment Contract] was at the top of my list. I love being challenged, but also being able to see something from beginning to a successful end,” she said. Day played a key role in the standup of DLA Ogden, which came out of 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law calling for the transfer of supply, storage and distribution and depot-level reparable procurement operations from the military services to DLA. “DLA Ogden was activated with minimal difficulty and without impact to customers or employees. The standup went off without a hitch thanks in large part to her management and procurement expertise,” Burke said. Under Day’s leadership, Burke said, the organization has shown exemplary performance through its 17 months of operations – including two successful year-end closeouts. “Her keen oversight of Ogden DLR operations resulted in continuous improvements in procurement lead times and overall strategic performance – one of the primary visions of BRAC,” Burke said. Day worked closely with the Air Force to combine procurement efforts, find more savings for the taxpayers and improve DLA performance to keep warfighters flying – and landing – safely. That sentiment was echoed by Air Force Maj. Gen. Andrew Busch, Ogden Air Logistics Center commander. “The Air Force and DLA could not have successfully transferred the DLR procurement functions as part of BRAC without Pam's engaged leadership,” Busch said. “Ogden was the first of the five DLR procurement sites that Ms. Burke transferred to the aviation demand and supply chain, and Pam's willingness to partner with DLA and work through tough issues was the foundation for the sustained success of the transfer process.” Busch was commander of Defense Supply Center Richmond when Day joined the DLA team, but he knew about her reputation of excellence long before that. “Pam is widely respected within the Air Force and brought with her a huge amount of credibility that was needed to convince the Ogden team that DLA was a trustworthy partner on this BRAC challenge,” Busch said. In the course of her career, Day was named Air Force Materiel Command’s Contingency Contracting Officer of the Year, AFMC Professional Contracting Officer of the Year, Ogden ALC Manager of the Year, Ogden ALC Civilian of the Quarter and Civilian of the Year, and earned the Spirit of the American Woman Professional Award. During her retirement ceremony, Day was able to add some final awards to the list. Busch presented Day with the Air Force's Outstanding Civilian Career Service Award; Burke presented her with the DLA Distinguished Career Service Award, a Silver Letter from the DLA director, Navy Vice Adm. Alan Thompson, and the Aviation Demand and Supply Chain Commander's Plaque. Despite her success, Day was humble when it came to taking credit for her accomplishments. “The job isn’t about me – it’s about the mission, and if that isn’t your focus, you’ll make decisions for the wrong reasons, which could lead to poor results. Fortunately, I learned that really early in my career,” she said. (Debra R. Bingham works for Defense Supply Center-Richmond public affairs.) Nov. 23, 2009: By Debra R. Bingham: Special to American Forces Press Service ***SOT***

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FireworksNovember 11, 2009

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Meet Your Military: Soldier Who Led Last Bayonet Charge Dies

[caption id="attachment_3657" align="alignleft" width="166"]SoldierWhoLed Retired Army Col. Lewis L. Millet wears his Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and other medals earned in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He served as honorary colonel of the 27th Infantry Regiment Association, and was active in veterans events almost to his death Nov. 14, 2009. U.S. Army photo[/caption] WASHINGTON – Retired Army Col. Lewis L. Millett, who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for leading what reportedly was the last major American bayonet charge, died Nov 14.
Millett, 88, died in Loma Linda, Calif., after serving for more than 15 years as the honorary colonel of the 27th Infantry Regiment Association.Millet received the Medal of Honor for his actions Feb. 7, 1951. He led the 25th Infantry Division’s Company E, 27th Infantry, in a bayonet charge up Hill 180 near Soam-Ni, Korea. A captain at the time, Millet was leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position when he noticed that a platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire.Millett placed himself at the head of two other platoons, ordered fixed bayonets, and led an assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge, Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement, according to his Medal of Honor citation."Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill," the citation states. "His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder." Millett was wounded by grenade fragments during the attack, but he refused evacuation until the objective was firmly secured. He recovered, and attended Ranger School after the war. In the 1960s, he ran the 101st Airborne Division Recondo School for reconnaissance and commando training at Fort Campbell, Ky. He then served in a number of special operations advisory assignments in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He founded the Royal Thai Army Ranger School with help of the 46th Special Forces Company. This unit reportedly is the only one in the U.S. Army to simultaneously be designated as both Ranger and Special Forces. Millet retired from the Army in 1973. "I was very saddened to hear Colonel Millett passed away," said Army Maj. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the current commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. "He was a rare breed -- a true patriot who never stopped serving his country. He was a role model for thousands of soldiers, and he will be missed." Millet was born in Maine and first enlisted in 1940 in the Army Air Corps and served as a gunner. Soon after, when it appeared that the United States would not enter World War II, he left and joined the Canadian army. In 1942, while Millet was serving in London, the United States entered the war. Millet turned himself in to the U.S. Embassy there and eventually was assigned to the 1st Armored Division. As an antitank gunner in Tunisia, Millet earned the Silver Star after he jumped into a burning halftrack filled with ammunition, drove it away from allied soldiers and jumped to safety just before the vehicle exploded. He later shot down a German fighter plane with a vehicle-mounted machine gun. As a sergeant serving in Italy during the war, his desertion to join the Canadian forces caught up to him. He was court-martialed, fined $52 and denied leave. A few weeks later, he was awarded a battlefield commission. After the war, he joined the 103rd Infantry of the Maine National Guard, and he attended college until he was called back to active duty in 1949. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Millett earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit and four Purple Hearts during his 35-year military career. After his retirement, he remained active in both national and local veterans groups from his Idyllwild, Calif., home. His son, Army Staff Sgt John Morton Millett, was a member of the 101st Airborne Division returning from duty in the Sinai on Dec. 12, 1985, when a charter plane crashed upon takeoff after stopping at Gander, Newfoundland. He was one of 256 soldiers killed in the crash. On Feb. 7, 1994, Millet was honored with a ceremony on Hill 180, now located on Osan Air Base, South Korea. The ceremony became an annual one, and the road running up the hill was named "Millet Road." In June 2000, Millet returned to Seoul, South Korea, and served as keynote speaker at the Army's 225th Birthday Ball at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. All eight of the then-living Korean War Medal of Honor recipients attended the event. This year, Millet served as the grand marshal of a Salute to Veterans parade April 21 in Riverside, Calif. He died Nov. 14 at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Loma Linda, of congestive heart failure. A memorial service for Millet is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 5 at the National Medal of Honor Memorial at Riverside National Cemetery in California. (Courtesy of Army.mil.) Nov. 20, 2009: American Forces Press Service ***SOT***

Meet Your Military: Wife Succeeds Husband on Deployment

SOUTHWEST ASIA – He was there, and then he was gone. It was just a glimpse on the night of Oct. 31. She continued to exit the C-130 Hercules that had just landed at an air base here, still scanning her surroundings to see if it could be.
Then she saw him again. Her face lit up as she joyfully greeted her husband at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing reception area.Although she was ecstatic to see her husband for the first time in six months, Air Force Capt. Kieran Dhillon-Davis, the newly arrived chief of the wing’s mental health services, didn't come here to see him. She came to take his place.Her job is to ensure mission readiness by providing mental health services such as individual therapy, tobacco cessation aid and suicide awareness training to airmen and soldiers. She also focuses on behavior change and on stress and anger management. Her husband, Air Force Capt. Luther Dhillon-Davis, the departing chief of mental health services, soon would return to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, the couple's home station. But for now, he was focusing on managing the hand-off and preparing his wife for a successful stay. "I was eagerly anticipating her arrival," he said. "I was and still am excited to get to share with her this transition." Over the next 14 days, he facilitated the transfer by seeing patients alongside his wife, providing her with continuity, detailing location-specific information and showing her around the wing. He noted how grateful he was to spend time with her over the changeover period, saying it was the "closest thing to a traditional mid-tour break," they would get. The couple became acquainted when 23-year-old Kieran Dhillon enrolled in a neuropsychology class on the nature of emotion in the summer of 2002, after seeing 24-year-old Luther Davis's name on the class's roster at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, Calif. Over the next four years, Luther Davis would create a holiday for his college sweetheart: "Blue Day," named after her favorite color and a commemoration of their engagement. Both would join the Air Force and start their residency, and they would combine and hyphenate their last names in a wedding ceremony at a winery in Temecula, Calif. They celebrated their third wedding anniversary separately on May 28, shortly after Luther left for his deployment. They knew there would be sacrifices when both entered the Air Force. The couple agrees that getting deployed back-to-back is not an ideal situation, but they are learning to deal with the challenges it brings. "I've had to learn how to be supportive without being there physically," admitted Luther, a 31-year-old Wichita Falls, Texas, native. When the couple informs people of their situation, the response they normally receive is, "Geez, that sucks! Why couldn't they work something different?" he said. Kieran explained that their career field is critically undermanned, and constant deployments have left a shortage of airmen capable of deploying. They agree the situation could have been far more stressful if they were deployed to separate locations. As their two-week overlap drew to a close, the couple sat beside each other, smiling, laughing and getting lost in somber moments of silence -- moments that soon were ended by the realization that the KC-10 Extender was waiting on the ramp to take him home, and the two would have to say goodbye again. In the upcoming months, Luther will re-integrate into the 82nd Medical Group and serve the airmen of Sheppard Air Force Base, and Kieran will continue to hold the line as the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing's only clinical psychologist. Reflecting on her husband's departure, the 30-year-old Redland, Calif., native said she has only the mission at hand on her mind, and plans on “doing what I have been called out here to do, just like everyone else." The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing provides intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and aerial refueling in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa. (Air Force Senior Airman Stephen Linch serves with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing public affairs office.) Nov. 19, 2009: By Air Force Senior Airman Stephen Linch-Special to American Forces Press Service ***SOT***

What is a Veteran?

P23705-31.jpgA veteran is a one of our neighbors who had what it took to step in between us and the bad guys. And these days a veteran may yet be doing that, having returned to active duty aboard to project our families here at home. My fellow men should know that nowadays there are women out there carrying guns and flying aircraft to look out for us men and our families here at home. Which brings up the question.
What should we do for them? And to everyone with a legitimate value system, the moral covenant is obvious: you stick up for the folks who stick up for you. The enemy may compel a parent to leave their family, but the enemy will not steal the family's future. For the veterans that means making sure they are provided with what they were promised in exchange for risking limb and life to protect our families. For the active duty that means looking out for them and their families in the thousands of different ways that it is necessary to do so. In both cases it means letting them know that you know about them and appreciate them. If you're sheepish about walking up and saying "thanks" to a vet or soldier, we can tell you two private ways you can make your feelings known. Write a letter to the editor (and follow up to make sure they print it). Send an email of thanks to the troops using the tool under the "What We Do" menu on this site. The point is this. It is individuals who step up to protect this nation, and it is we individuals who must step up for them. God Bless and keep safe all those who have or do serve on our behalves. May the Lord make his face shine upon them and grant them peace.
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