3.29.2008

Gift Ideas for MacGyver - Tech Lust

FMG-9 from Magpul Industries.


Very cool. Though I do have one question...where the hell is this guy planning to walk his dog???




Pau.




- hfs

3.26.2008

Happy birthday Dad!!

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The big 8-0. Impressive. I love you!




Pau.




- hfs

Bloggers' Roundtable with Secretary Pete Geren

Some of you (one of you?) may remember my opportunity to speak with the then-acting Secretary of the Army, Mr. Pete Geren when he visited Schofield Barracks back in July of 2007. This morning I had yet another opportunity to speak with him on a variety of subjects including the Army Family Covenant and the Army's work on transforming warrior care for it's servicemembers.

There were 6 other bloggers involved so I was only able to ask one of the questions I had prepared. My question was:


With regard to the Army Family Covenant, can you clarify the Army's position on the use of paid FRG (Family Readiness Group) positions? Will this be a global policy? A regional one? And how is the decision made to hire versus when to rely solely on volunteers?



Mr. Geren clarified that this policy is global and will be implemented all the way down to the Battalion level. In the past these paid positions were only instituted down to the Brigade level but the Army is beginning to realize (finally) the strain that multiple deployments places on it's volunteers.


The Army is increasing the amount of money it is spending on family support programs from $700 million to $1.4 billion in FY2009 and a large percentage of that will go toward these paid FRG positions.


Here in Hawaii, we have already seen evidence of the Army Family Covenant in action - at the level of Children and Youth Services (to include free registration, increased respite care hours, free or discounted classes, etc.), increased services at physical fitness centers, etc. Hopefully this trend will continue (us military spouses are a skeptical bunch, especially when it comes to promises made and often broken) and the money will be put to good use.


I did not have time to ask the remainder of my questions but I'll post them here and see what you all have to say.


1. What else can military families expect to see from the Army Family Covenant in the future?

2. With regard to the transformation of warrior care, what steps are being taken to tackle the issue of PTSD outside of the Warrior Transition Units? What is being done for the soldier that needs assistance with PTSD issues that are not severe enough to warrant placement in the WTU? What level of care can they expect to receive?

3. What percentage of medical personnel at military treatment facilities (MTFs) are being trained to recognize and treat the servicemember properly? Is the Army planning to go beyond the "chain teach" model that it has implemented and truly get the medical professionals the training necessary to tackle this complex problem?

4. Accessibility of health care for geographically separated, Guard, and Reserve families that have no Tricare providers within a reasonable distance. How is this being addressed? Is it possible to work toward the goal of having a Tricare provider in EVERY COUNTY so that geographically separated, Guard, and Reserve families can actually access the care they are entitled to when they are eligible?

5. Employment. The assistance being offered to spouses to help them secure education in order to increase their opportunities in the workforce are commendable. However, there is a large segment of the military spouse population that is already highly educated but are running into significant barriers when it comes to finding a job. the bias against military spouses can even be seen in the mid-level government positions (how many GS9+ positions are actually held by military spouses??). Does the possibility exist for military spouses to seek assistance in terms of securing professional credentials? A friend of mine wrote:

Businesses that pay for training materials and the credentialing process for their employees tend to overlook military spouses who they know will not be with them long. I cannot blame these companies but it is also a huge monetary outlay that most military families cannot afford. Even if a spouse has obtained credentials, most require ongoing education requirements to keep the credential and if the spouse is moved to a location without job prospects, they cannot afford to keep up their credentials. I would love to have my PMP (project management) or be a FACHE (Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives) but cannot afford the process. At the same time, these are just about mandatory in order to obtain jobs in these areas. Quite the catch 22.



It is so true. I would love to pursue additional credentials that would make me much more marketable once I get somewhere that I can re-enter the workforce. But the cost (while having no income) is highly prohibitive. I would love to become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher but the cost is HIGHLY prohibitive ($3,000+) and the process is not really conducive to someone who is not currently teaching. Such is the life of a military spouse.


The Secretary did state that there is an on-going joint venture between the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Labor to increase employment opportunities for military spouses and that he is also working with General Casey to increase the opportunities as well.


In addition, there is an on-going process that will offer GI Bill benefits to military spouses and children. Currently it is in the "pilot phase". Jack Army did a post about it all a few days ago if you're interested in more information. Personally speaking, WE paid into the program, WE should be able to determine where it is used. MacGyver already has his degree and doesn't plan to go any further with it and if he does, he can do so for a fraction of the cost by going through the Army. So, rather than let OUR money go to waste, why not give the families the option of using that money to pay for our children's college education or our own college education in order to improve our quality of life? He did mention that scholarships can be found at America Supports You but I've not yet found them. I'll post the link when I do.


He then went on to discuss a plan that will be launched next summer. The plan is to "chain teach" every member of the military to recognize the signs of suicidal behavior and how to help the person secure treatment. He also plugged Military One Source as a portal for geographically disbursed families, partnering Active Duty locations/amenities with those families that are not near military bases.


And in April, a new Community Covenant will be launched, thanking communities for their support of military families with the hope of identifying other partners to assist specifically those families that are geographically disbursed.


In closing, he reminded us of the Wounded Soldier Family Hotline as a way to identify problems early and address them. He said that they (he?) are briefed each week on the issues that arise and their status. Hopefully that will help to prevent issues from becoming as big as they have in the past by giving servicemembers and families another way of getting their concerns heard.


All in all, it was an incredible experience that I would love to have the opportunity to do again! Thanks Andi!




Pau.




- hfs

3.24.2008

Patti Bader is awesome AND in first place!

Patti Patton Bader (founder of Soldiers' Angelshas been nominated by her son Brandon as one of America's Favorite Moms! She's currently in FIRST PLACE and that is thanks to all of the Soldiers' Angels out there and her wonderful family. There are EIGHT DAYS left in the competition and the winner will receive $5,000 (which Patti has said will go to Soldiers' Angels) and the possibility to appear on national television, allowing her to show what an incredible organization Soldiers' Angels is and how well they support our servicemembers!


VOTE FOR PATTI TODAY, TOMORROW, and FOR THE NEXT 8 DAYS!!!


From her husband Jeff:

First of all I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for truly being Angels on Earth.

All Soldiers Angels contribute to a cause that truly makes a difference for the better of those heroes who volunteer to defend our freedoms. Although Patti is the founder and our public persona, without you, none of this would happen.

Our Soldiers Angels chain is only as strong as each link in it and we are one strong organization with over 180,000 volunteers. Together combined we walk the walk and accomplish great deeds of kindness.

Each and every Angel shares in any and all awards bestowed upon Patti and all of you are America's Favorite Moms and Dads. From my heart thank you for your efforts.

Let's pull together and win this contest in a big way. There's a chance if we impress the judges that Patti could be on National T.V. to publicize and promote Soldiers Angels. There's only 8 days left and you can vote everyday!!!

Heave Ho. Here's the link again, please shamelessly email this link to all of your friends, relatives, and neighbors and ask them to vote everyday until the end of the month. God Bless Our Soldiers Angels - God Bless Our Troops!
Angel Hugs and Hope you all had a Happy Easter,

Jeff Bader

VOTE FOR PATTI TODAY, TOMORROW, and FOR THE NEXT 8 DAYS!!!




Pau.




- hfs

YGBSM

Israel's airport security questioned


The Israeli civil rights group challenged the practice before the Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday. Israeli-Arabs complain frequently that they are taken aside for unpleasant security checks.


Seriously?


In a country where Arabs and Palestinians blow themselves up in order to kill as many Jews as possible and neighboring countries call for the extermination of the state of Israel...it's OWN PEOPLE are bitching about security practices at their airport?!?


Nice to know we aren't the only country with boneheads for citizens.




Pau.




- hfs

3.23.2008

He is risen, indeed!

1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

3.22.2008

Good on him

Commander Posts Photos of DWI Soldiers


"I don't do it to humiliate these soldiers," Maj. Gen. Michael Oates told reporters during a Pentagon roundtable Thursday. "I do it to raise awareness that this behavior is not acceptable."


Baloney. Humiliation is a WONDERFUL teaching tool. Not that it should be used on a regular basis nor should it be used in excess. But when you do something stupid, one way of making sure you DON'T do it again is to add a fair dose of humility (thus humiliation) to the situation. I think this should be done for everyone caught DWI.




Pau.




- hfs

3.19.2008

Not ready to end the fight

Given that we are observing the five year mark of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I thought this video was rather appropriate.


There has been a lot said about it all...where we were, what we were doing, and how we think it might end. Personally, I don't remember where I was or what I was doing - not the details, at least. I do know MacGyver was in flight school after having made the commitment to stay in the military. Said commitment was made after 9/11, knowing full-well that fighting in this war was now a given at some point in the near future. Until then, we had been blessed to never have endured a deployment. But there he stood saying, in essence, "Yes. I'll go. Send me."


I could not have been more proud. Of him or the rest of our military forces.


Like Kat said I, too, am the one. Thank you.




Pau.




- hfs

There should be a law

7:00am (that's 0700 for you military types).


Spring Break.


Jackhammers outside my bedroom window.


NOT. COOL.




Pau.




- hfs

3.18.2008

40th Naval Construction Battalion

I'm looking for information on the Seabee's 40th Naval Construction Battalion. My grandfather served on it during WWII and curiosity has grabbed the best of me on this one. I did find their Cruise Book for sale but the price is a bit steep (unless anyone wants to donate to "the cause", in which case I will gldaly get ahold of said book once I verify that his name is in there).


I'm digging but a few extra sets of eyes never hurt. Thanks!




Pau.




- hfs

3.15.2008

Ever feel out of sync?

Every once in a while, I get to feeling like I am completely out of sync with everything around me. Not that anything is wrong, per se. Just that I'm not in sync with life - friends, family, church, school, you name it. It seems to be cyclical and eventually it goes away. I'm just curious to know if I'm the only one that feels this way.


Do you ever feel like that?




Pau.




- hfs

3.12.2008

Big Island and Punchbowl

MacGyver took a flight to the Big Island the other day and took along the camera. There is fresh lava flow and, although the day he went wasn't as spectacular as some of the more recent days, he did get some great shots. Enjoy!

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The steam rising toward the bottom right is the lava entering the ocean.


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When aviators are bored...


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Then, the other day, I had some time to myself and was feeling a bit unsettled. So I took off to the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. It was a beautiful day.

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This wall was incredible. Standing there to take the shot, I only saw the one name in black (names etched in black indicate that person is a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient). As you get closer to the wall, you realize that there are fourteen names per panel. On every wall. The names on the walls represent those 28,788 military personnel who are missing in action or were lost or buried at sea in the Pacific during World War II and Vietnam. It is called "The Courts of the Missing".


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IN THESE GARDENS ARE RECORDED
THE NAMES OF AMERICANS
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY
AND WHOSE EARTHLY RESTING PLACE
IS KNOWN ONLY TO GOD


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At the top of the staircase in the Court of Honor is a statue of Lady Columbia and she is reported to represent all grieving mothers. She stands on the bow of a ship holding a laurel branch. The inscription below the statue, taken from Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby, reads:

THE SOLEMN PRIDE
THAT MUST BE YOURS
TO HAVE LAID
SO COSTLY A SACRIFICE
UPON THE ALTAR
OF FREEDOM


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Pau.




- hfs

3.10.2008

Guitar Heroes

Michael Yon's newest article highlights the 4/6 Cav Kiowa pilots.
Guitar Heroes


There is 24/7 helicopter coverage over Mosul. When they are not actually flying over Mosul, a team of four pilots stay on “RedCon 3” status, which usually means they should be able to go from initial alert to rotors turning in thirty minutes. But Jamison considers the soldiers on the ground his responsibility to protect, and so he enforces a five minute rule. The pilots who are on RedCon 3 have to wait in a room near the helicopters, and they’ve got only five minutes to get those blades turning after an alert. The ground-pounders here love the pilots. As for the pilots, they have three basic modes: combat, sleep, and RedCon 3. And so they have taken up playing Guitar Hero while on RedCon 3.





Pau.




- hfs

3.07.2008

Well, poo

No dice on getting the post office to help me out and make my life a little easier with regard to the boxes of blankets. They HAVE to be brought to the post office (no carrier pickup) and they HAVE to be brought into the lobby (as opposed to hauling them around back and not having to fight with the stupid door or clog up their lobby with 24 boxes).


With the hand cart, I can get 4 boxes in my car so that means I'll be hitting the post office six times to get this all done. Blech. I think I'm going to designate a day to get this all done and see if I can bribe a couple of friends with larger cars to help me out (free Starbucks when we're done!!!). Maybe I can get them all done in 1 day.


Then all I have to do is figure out how to box up and ship the sheets. Whee!




Pau.




- hfs

3.06.2008

Blankets for Afghanistan

Got a note from Soldiers' Angels the other day and they needed some help. Seems there was a need for blankets in Afghanistan and a hotel here on the island was willing to donate. But they needed to be picked up. I headed downtown and grabbed as many as I could...which totaled all of 6 as the boxes were not small.


Rather than make repeated trips downtown - because you know how expensive gas is, not to mention the fact that drivers downtown make my blood pressure go through the roof, I decided that renting a trailer would make much more sense. And it did - financially and logistically.


Thankfully, MacGyver has a wonderful commander who allowed him to take a little extra time on his lunch hour and head down with me (this was a blessing given the fact that I have no clue how to back a trailer and the parking lot at the hotel was SMALL). So we are now the proud foster parents of 24 boxes of blankets (10 per box...the boxes are those that mini fridges come in and weigh a good 40 pounds fully packed). I am also nursing a mean case of writers' cramp because filling out 30 Customs Forms for the USPS starts to hurt after about the first dozen or so. Of course, it wasn't until AFTER I finished those wonderful forms that I discovered you can do them up ONLINE. Grr. C'est la vie.


Now the challenge is getting said boxes from my house to the post office. See, I had to turn the trailer back in - UHaul is persnickety like that. So I'm left with my car which can handle 6 at a time, assuming I have no children with me (which is rare). And the idea of showing up with 24 boxes needing to be shipped to an APO address at the post office with no warning seems...foolish. So tomorrow I shall head down to the local post office and talk with the manager and see if there is a way to set this up so that I do not have to make 4 different trips or rent another trailer and then haul all 24 boxes into the lobby. Talk about a pain.


We shall see. My hope is that I can set up an "appointment" with them, have 3 or 4 friends (with SUVs, minivans, or pickup trucks) help me ferry the boxes over, and get it all done in one fell swoop. We shall see.


Of course, by the time these things get to Afghanistan, their winter will be winding down. Hopefully they can use them in the coming winters.


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Pau.




- hfs

3.01.2008

hee hee

It is with the saddest heart that we must pass on the following news item:

Please join us in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, The California Raisins, Betty Crocker, The Hostess Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours. Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still, as a crusty old man, was considered a roll model for millions. Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough, his children, John and Jane Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.