Deployed – A Message from Danger 7

(Editor’s note: the following blog post comes from the Command Sergeant Major of Task Force Paladin in Afghanistan)

Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Dunn (right),Task Force Paladin Command Sergeant Major, speaks with Soldiers in Afghanistan.

Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Dunn (right),Task Force Paladin Command Sergeant Major, speaks with Soldiers in Afghanistan.

By: Command Sgt. Maj. Harold Dunn
Combined Joint Task Force Paladin-52
“Do not expect the combat fairy to come bonk you with the combat wand and suddenly make you capable of doing things that you never rehearsed before. It will not happen.” –Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dave Grossman (a scholar, author, soldier and speaker)

We are well within the first 45 days of the CJTFP-52 deployment. The first 45-90 days of an organization getting on ground is an extraordinary experience. Leaders, service members and civilians are either just getting their feet underneath them, or for those who have been on ground prior to the new unit’s arrival, are almost through the reactions associated with change. The team begins to gel, a wider aperture of the unit’s mission becomes clearer, and processes begin to become second nature. It is truly an incredible moment for a unit and its members.

As most of our unit is spread throughout Afghanistan, it provides me an opportunity to move about to see each of them. I am continually amazed by our service members and civilians each and every visit, talk, and meal I get to spend with each of them. They truly are heroes of our great nation and its people. Although everyone would much rather be home with their loved ones, they know their devoted sacrifice and hardships ensure the freedoms and safety of our families and friends.

Back home our families and friends are without question the strength and spirit of our organization, and the ones who enable the successes of each individual within this unit. As a husband, father, son, brother, and soldier, I cannot express enough, or with the appropriate clarity needed, to fully recognize the impact that our loved ones have on our ability to conduct our mission.

Lastly, I charge myself and all of you to be the best each moment of everyday for our Country that we defend and the people who are close to us anxiously awaiting our safe arrival home.

DEFUSING DANGER!

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault: A betrayal of trust and honor

DCO Nordmeyer web bio photoBy Col. Kyle Nordmeyer
Deputy Commanding Officer

There are few acts in this world more insidious than sexual assault. It is a savage act act committed by cowards. To me, sexual assault within the ranks of our Army is not only a serious crime committed against the individual, but it’s a break in trust and loyalty to our profession, the Army, and our Nation. Sexual assault within our ranks not only victimizes our fellow Soldiers, it also threatens to rup our Army apart and destroy readiness, which is dangerous for national security.

Our profession as Soldiers demands high competence and high character. Sexual harassment and assault goes against everything we stand for and we must remain committed to prevention of these crimes.  Any Soldier, any leader, that stands by or witnesses acts of sexual assault, or harassment without taking appropriate actions to halt, intervene, and report is by default, contributing to acts detrimental to our profession, and the defense of our Nation.  We, as Soldiers, must be committed to our fellow Soldiers, and a professional and moral standard clearly indicated by Army Values.  Sexual assault within our ranks is nothing less than an insider attack that must be countered and the threat neutralized.

The Army’s goal is to eliminate occurrences within our ranks completely. For this to happen, leaders at all levels must address and understand the problem of sexual abuse. We have to communicate about these issues and be ready to spring into action to stop it immediately. We have to be ready to protect victims and punish, with the greatest severity, offenders who betray their fellow Soldiers and the trust of a Nation.

We have to let it be known across every formation that this will not be tolerated. We will not allow our Army to be destroyed by the cowardly acts of despicable human beings. All Soldiers have a responsibility to take action and intervene against those who wish to victimize our fellow Soldiers and dishonor our organization.

The 20th CBRNE will host SHARP training at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Edgewood Area Chapel for the entire Headquarters and our subordinate units will conduct and host similar events on their installations. This training will emphasize the severity of the problem and how we, as leaders, NCOs, Soldiers, and civilians must take responsibility to end this problem. We are committed to maintaining an environment of respect, trust and safety for all of our Soldiers, civilians, and family members. All leaders, Soldiers and employees must INTERVENE, ACT, and MOTIVATE to eliminate sexual violence, assaults and harassment from our ranks so that we remain the Ready, Reliable, and Globally Responsive Forces capable of combating CBRNE hazards anywhere at any time.

Liberty We Defend!

How we found each other – a single mom’s adoption journey

By:  Chief Warrant Officer Tashay Mason
20th CBRNE G2 Intelligence Division

Chief Warrant Officer Tashay Mason with her son Greg.

Chief Warrant Officer Tashay Mason with her son Greg.

 

My journey toward adoption actually began almost five and a half years ago when I decided that as a single, career military woman I was ready to settle down and have a family.  Around March or April of 2010 I spoke with a friend and she suggested adoption.  Initially, I did not think much of it until I began to watch “Adoption Stories” on TV.  The more I watched, the more I thought about it.

My first step with the adoption agency was to attend an information session.  After much prayer and long talks with my mom, I decided to move forward with adopting an older child.  There was a lot of paperwork involved and some training and it wasn’t before too long that I received a potential match.  It was actually much faster than I expected. 

I was skeptical at first because the child was 12 years old and I had asked for a child between the ages of 6 – 10.  I prayed about it and decided to trust that the agency had a good reason for recommending the match.   I knew that if it was meant to be, God would make that clear to me.

I “met” my son on the phone for the first time in February. I was excited and nervous.  I wasn’t sure what to say but we soon connected while talking about cartoons (particularly Dragonball Z).  From there our relationship grew.  We visited in person and by the phone for several months leading up to his placement that summer.  I received so much support from many people including people from the adoption agency, his case worker, staff from his group home and an adoption support group. 

Greg began living with me on June 15, 2011.  I took a month off of work to get him adjusted to his new home.  During that time we took a summer road trip to Texas to meet my family–OUR family.  They all loved him, especially his grandma, from the start and they have been a huge support to me.  Greg is a very loving and intelligent child.  He is learning for the first time that love is more than a word, it is an action and it is consistent.  Greg has had many firsts since coming home.  He has played his first organized sport; had his first birthday party; had his first sleep over; his first plane ride and his first road trip.

His firsts have also been my firsts.  Being a single mom has been both challenging and fun.  I am learning along with Greg to deal with my emotions head on.  Patience is also another virtue I am grasping.  Therapy has helped us learn to communicate.  I have become more of a “softy.”  I had to learn that many things are new to Greg and he needed to unlearn some old habits.  We had to learn together how to maintain contact with his birth family while building our own family.

Greg and I are forcing each other to “grow.”  Last Christmas I put up a Christmas tree in my home for the first time in more than ten years and I’m learning how to swim.   I have my son to thank for that.  We’ve had our bumps in the road but I know we were meant to be together.   If someone told me five years ago that I would adopt a child, I wouldn’t have believed them.  Now, I can say the happiest day of my life was when Greg’s adoption was legally finalized at the end of December 2011.  It is official and forever.  He is my son and I am his mother.

CBRNE Soldiers work with Israeli partners during visit

By Master Sgt. Anthony Feldi
Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinating Element 2 NCOIC

Last month, I was part of a group of 20th Support Command (CBRNE) Soldiers who were invited to visit Israel. We were to take part in an exchange of CBRNE doctrine between our command and the Israel Defense Forces Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Center. We were also joined by Dr. Jesse Flynn from the Office of the Secretary of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense office.

On the first of the four day program we were introduced to our hosts. We started at the NBC Center in the city of Tzrifin, with a brief overview of the country of Israel, its history, social and economic information and we joined with them in a moment of silence while the sirens played in observation of the Holocaust Day of Remembrance. We also received general overviews of the Chem/Bio organizations in the IDF, and an overview of the EOD organization (Yahalum, or Diamond). We also got to see an equipment exhibition put on by both Chemical and EOD Soldiers.

The next morning we discussed the differences in operations between the Israeli and US CBRNE forces and realized that we all have a commonality in what we perceived as strengths and weaknesses. From there we were taken on an official tour of the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was a solemn and moving experience for all of us. Personally, I never truly grasped full the size and scope of the Holocaust until this moment. The History and Discovery channels cannot give you the sense of magnitude that I learned from this memorial. From here we finished out the day with a tour of Jerusalem.
On the third day we received a brief about the IDF Home Front Command in Ramla, Israel.

The Home Front Command is the arm of the military that that has the most contact with the civilian populace. The HFC seemed to be a cross between our National Guard and FEMA in that they are the ones that deal with what goes on inside of Israel away from the borders. They are also heavily involved in training the civilian population in CBRN defense and protective measures for rocket attacks.
IDF Blog photo
On Thursday we had a tour of Beth-El Industries in Zikhron Yaaqov, Israel. Beth-El is one of the leading manufacturers of NBC Protective Filtration Systems. They are a company set up as a collective, like a kibbutz. They manufacture every part and piece of the filtration systems on site as well as run a farm, a bakery, and various other activities that all of the employees and families are involved in. After the tour we returned back to the NBC Center and conducted Table Top Exercises dealing with response to C/B attacks. At the conclusion of the exchange we conducted an AAR about the week’s events and set up the foundation for a reciprocal visit in the US.

Service members are role models

Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Johnson presents Pvt. Shawnte Mitchell, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker), the JBLM Commander's Coin of Excellence at the D-Street Gate at JBLM for his outstanding, friendly attitude, professionalism, and customer focus.

Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Johnson presents Pvt. Shawnte Mitchell, 4th
Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker), the JBLM Commander’s Coin of
Excellence at the D-Street Gate at JBLM for his outstanding, friendly
attitude, professionalism, and customer focus.

By Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald E. Johnson
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Command Sergeant Major

Editor’s Note: The Northwest Guardian, the base newspaper for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. published these comments from the installation’s senior enlisted leader earlier this year and the 61st Chemical Company, also located at JBLM, linked their unit’s Facebook site recently to the article. We thought Johnson’s message was worth repeating. “The more Soldier’s that get the message, the better,” he said when we contacted him.

You are being watched; your character carefully measured.
Young eyes look up to you, older eyes salute you and your peers admire you for your willingness to serve. Not since World War II have our military men and women enjoyed such admiration from their fellow Americans.
If you’ve been in uniform in the last 10 years, odds are you’ve felt that sense of pride as you’ve walked through an airport while wearing your uniform. Moreover, people appreciate the opportunity to walk up to you and say “Thank you for your service.”

Whether you are a Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Marine, when you volunteered to join the armed services and put on one of our nation’s military uniforms, you also volunteered to become a role model.

What you say and how you say it; what you do and how you do it; and how you behave in public represents this generation’s military in the eyes of everyone who is watching.

Across the joint base, we have many opportunities for our service members to publicly represent their service. We provide honor guards for ceremonies, guest speakers at schools, and even service members to march in parades. Troops and units often volunteer to participate in community service projects. We receive tremendous amounts of positive feedback for what you do in our communities. I applaud you for being positive role models in our communities.

But there are other times when some of our service members are out in public and their behavior tarnishes that role model image. Unfortunately, we hear all too often from people outside the gates who call or email the joint base headquarters to complain about a service member’s “unprofessional” actions in public. Here are some examples.

• A man called to complain about a service member in uniform who flew past him on the highway on his motorcycle, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. Not only was the service member driving recklessly, but he made the military look bad by endangering his fellow drivers and flouting traffic laws. This is a common grievance.

• A woman called to complain about a large group of Soldiers who were eating breakfast at Denny’s in Lakewood. The Soldiers were loud, used foul language and they treated the wait staff rudely. Also, the restaurant was full of other people, including children, who witnessed the Soldiers’ unprofessional conduct.

• A local apartment complex manager wrote to complain about a service member who frequently puts other tenants in danger by speeding through the development.

• A woman emailed to complain about her neighbor, a service member, who harasses her and her kids.
Some of these complaints are more easily handled than others, but in most instances, the people say, “I have the utmost respect for our military, but I expect more from them and this behavior is unacceptable.”
While the unprofessional, unflattering conduct of a few is not indicative of the true professionalism of the majority of our men and women in uniform at JBLM, it can and does taint our image.
Each of our services has a set of values to live by. But whether you are in the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy or U.S. Marines, the name tapes on our uniforms have one thing in common — they begin with “U.S.” We all represent the United States Armed Services, and we’re all role models in the eyes of our fellow citizens.

Deployed — can I do it?

Lewis Homecoming Blog

Editor’s Note: When Army Maj. Francine Lewis received orders to deploy to Afghanistan as a social worker for nine months, she and her husband, Lt. Col. Chad Lewis, 20th Plans and Operations, asked Lewis’ mother, Ella Revely, to move to Maryland to help care for their two middle school and high school aged children. Maj. Lewis returned home this month and her mother-in-law was kind enough to write a blog for us about her experience.
As a retired school teacher, I look forward to leisurely mornings, decorating around my home, getting together with friends and supporting ministries at my church.

Well, you never know what lies ahead for you! God had a plan for family blessings in my life. He presented me the opportunity to spend time with my son and grandchildren! “Mom, my wife’s being deployed to Afghanistan. Would you come live with us for ten months and help out with the kids and managing our household?”

I said to myself, ‘What! Can I do this”??? Well, you can’t say, “No” to family in this circumstance, so off I went, “stepping out on faith”, knowing God would give me the strength to take on this responsibility. So I moved some personal belongings from Ohio to Maryland.

I quickly became acclimated to the routine of summer camp schedules, sport camps, school hours, after school practices, homework, fund raisers and I learned to drive my way around in a new city!

Grandkids are a blessing. You learn from them and you learn a lot about yourself as well. Some of you may know that children and teenagers in the 21st century are quite different from kids “back in the day.”

With today’s technology, we were able to communicate with Mommy by phone, email, internet pictures and Skype! We prayed together and stayed in touch several times a week.

Our prayers were answered when “Mommy, wife, daughter-in-law” returned safely from Afghanistan! Her homecoming was celebrated by our family and neighborhood friends as well! We’re blessed to have her back home and so very proud of her and all military and civilian personnel for their dedication and service to our country!

Love, peace and blessings,
From a grandmother,

Student highlights 20th CBRNE commanding general for school project

Image

Editor’s Note: Kristen Orwick is the daughter of Staff Sgt. Jason Orwick who works at the 20th.  She had to do an assignment recently on an African American leader and chose to do her report on Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith.  In addition to writing a paper on her interview she also had to put together a Power Point presentation.  She earned 280 out of 300 points.  The following blog includes some excerpts from her paper. 

Major General Leslie C. Smith is a native of the great state of Georgia. In high school General Smith was a part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC). He received an early commission from Georgia Southern University in 1983 as part of a Simultaneous Membership Program with the Georgia National Guard. In 1985, he graduated with a BBA in accounting and was a distinguished military graduate from GSU, and then was branched as a Chemical Officer.

Editor’s Note: Kristen Orwick is the daughter of Staff Sgt. Jason Orwick who works at the 20th. She had to do an assignment recently on an African American leader and chose to do her report on Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith. In addition to writing a paper on her interview she also had to put together a Power Point presentation. She earned 280 out of 300 points. The following blog includes some excerpts from her paper.

Major General Leslie C. Smith is a native of the great state of Georgia. In high school General Smith was a part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC). He received an early commission from Georgia Southern University in 1983 as part of a Simultaneous Membership Program with the Georgia National Guard. In 1985, he graduated with a BBA in accounting and was a distinguished military graduate from GSU, and then was branched as a Chemical Officer.

Maj. Gen. Smith feels that African Americans are continuously progressing through the Army’s ranks. “Change, a lot of the time, happens through the military first, it is based off your ability to do work, to stay focused, and your ability to care for others,” Smith says. He does not feel as though people should be treated differently simply because of their ethnic backgrounds. “We all have an obligation to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of where they have come from. We also have to learn to understand where they are coming from because there are differences and differences, don’t make us weak they make us stronger.”

Every month the Army has something to look back and reflect on; such as, what is occurring or has occurred in our nation. Some think that we’re just looking back to have something to do, but in reality we are celebrating diversity, according to General Smith. He does not think African Americans have a difficult time progressing in the modern day military. He feels as though it all comes down to how focused you are on your goals. “If you have a goal and know where you want to be, and if you’re ready to work to get to that goal then you can achieve those things,” Smith says.

Growing up General Smith had always wanted to be around leaders and be a part of a team, which is one of the many reasons he joined the military. He has been wearing a uniform every year since the age of five, with the exception of his ninth grade year in high school. He loves being a part of a team who can depend on him and who he can depend on in return.

General Smith never actually attended boot camp but entered the Army as an officer because of his ROTC program. He believes “everything you do prepares you for what you’re going to do next.”

Regardless of the rank on his uniform he does not feel any better than anyone else in his unit, because, “We are all a part of the team.” With being African American, enlisting in the U.S. military and going to school it didn’t matter to him what race you were. If you always did the right thing and treated everybody with dignity and respect, there isn’t anything people can keep you away from. “Oppression will never rule the day.” If he wasn’t in uniform and he just walked up to someone and started talking, they would probably judge him. However, if they found out who he truly was they would act completely different. This is because they would be judging by the color of his skin, not his uniform. “There will always be turkeys out there squabbling, squabbling, squabbling but we have to be the eagles that fly over everyone else and forget about those turkeys.”

Maj. Gen. Smith feels that African Americans are continuously progressing through the Army’s ranks. “Change, a lot of the time, happens through the military first, it is based off your ability to do work, to stay focused, and your ability to care for others,” Smith says. He does not feel as though people should be treated differently simply because of their ethnic backgrounds. “We all have an obligation to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of where they have come from. We also have to learn to understand where they are coming from because there are differences and differences, don’t make us weak they make us stronger.”

Every month the Army has something to look back and reflect on; such as, what is occurring or has occurred in our nation. Some think that we’re just looking back to have something to do, but in reality we are celebrating diversity, according to General Smith. He does not think African Americans have a difficult time progressing in the modern day military. He feels as though it all comes down to how focused you are on your goals. “If you have a goal and know where you want to be, and if you’re ready to work to get to that goal then you can achieve those things,” Smith says.

Growing up General Smith had always wanted to be around leaders and be a part of a team, which is one of the many reasons he joined the military. He has been wearing a uniform every year since the age of five, with the exception of his ninth grade year in high school. He loves being a part of a team who can depend on him and who he can depend on in return.

General Smith never actually attended boot camp but entered the Army as an officer because of his ROTC program. He believes “everything you do prepares you for what you’re going to do next.”

Regardless of the rank on his uniform he does not feel any better than anyone else in his unit, because, “We are all a part of the team.” With being African American, enlisting in the U.S. military and going to school it didn’t matter to him what race you were. If you always did the right thing and treated everybody with dignity and respect, there isn’t anything people can keep you away from. “Oppression will never rule the day.” If he wasn’t in uniform and he just walked up to someone and started talking, they would probably judge him. However, if they found out who he truly was they would act completely different. This is because they would be judging by the color of his skin, not his uniform. “There will always be turkeys out there squabbling, squabbling, squabbling but we have to be the eagles that fly over everyone else and forget about those turkeys.”