26 July 2013

By Maj. Gen. Joseph Caravalho

Having been on active duty for 34 years, I have institutional knowledge of, and great personal experience in, this grand profession we call the United States Army. Having been the Fort Detrick Installation Commander for six months now, I also feel an increasing comfort in the various activities here on post.

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By the CDMRP PHS Officers

Although a U.S. Army post, Fort Detrick is no stranger to Air Force, Marines and Navy personnel but one service you may not recognize is the U.S. Public Health Service. Officers in the PHS are assigned throughout Fort Detrick at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, the Barquist Army Health Clinic, the National Center for Medical Intelligence, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, just to name a few locations

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By Lanessa Hill, USAG PAO

Trapping mosquitoes will soon be the focus for some researchers at the Forest Glen Annex. Researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Vector Control Department will be placing multiple mosquito traps around the installation to determine species and count the numbers collected.

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11 July 2013
Understanding Furlough

When you hear the word “furlough,” do you feel as though you are listening to the teacher on the Charlie Brown cartoons?  “Wah, wah, waaaahh.”  Do your eyes glaze over in utter confusion? If so, you’re not alone.

When budget numbers are in the hundreds of billions, it can be hard to comprehend and put into perspective; when it’s directly linked to your paycheck, it can be a little scary too.

Furloughs will save the federal government about $1.8 billion.  This is a down payment on the $22 billion that our office is still short in Operations and Maintenance accounts in Fiscal Year 2013.  These O&M funds are used to pay most civilian employees, maintain military readiness, and respond to global contingencies.

Regardless of these cuts, Fort Detrick assures that safety of life and property will remain at the top of the priority list. Through partnerships with the community and other organizations, we will be able to navigate our way through this difficult time.  

You may be asking yourself, if this is only saving $1.8 billion and we are still short $22 billion, why is furlough even necessary? Well, this is only one of many ways spending has been reduced. Several steps have already been taken to reduce spending within the Department of Defense.

 o   Most services and defense agencies have begun instituting civilian hiring freezes, with exceptions for mission-critical activities. 

 o   Most services and defense agencies have begun laying off most of its 46,000 temporary and term employees -- again with exceptions for mission-critical activities. 

 o   Most services and defense agencies are curtailing facilities maintenance.  More than $10 billion in funding— mostly to contractors and small businesses—is affected, translating into lost jobs in the private sector.

o   Army has terminated most remaining training at its combat centers, which are culminating training events, and stopped many other training activities. 

o   Many key public engagements, including air shows, have been cancelled.     

 Some of the comments and questions that have been asked are “How does this affect me? How can I help? How will my family get through this? I can handle a lot, but when my money is affected, it really bothers me.”  

It will take time before the full effects of these furloughs will be apparent, but Fort Detrick leadership is doing everything within its power to minimize adverse effects on national security while also serving and supporting the warfighter mission.

"Furlough will be a difficult time for all of us.  Each of us must recognize there are Fort Detrick and community resources available to assist in our individual concerns,” said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick commander Col. Steven P. Middlecamp.  “Our strength as an Army is supporting Soldiers, Families, and Civilians.  We are Army Strong when we look after one another and stand together as a community.  If you need more information or require assistance, please talk with your supervisor, organizational leadership, the Army's Employee Assistance Program or Army Community Services."  

It cannot be stressed enough that support services are available to help during and after this time of furlough. The EAP and ACS offer several avenues to assist, whether it is training, speaking with a counselor, learning how to budget or just learning how to relax and meditate. These programs at Fort Detrick are in place to provide the necessary tools to adjust properly.

The most difficult issue to deal with when it comes to furlough is the reduction in pay.  Here are a few ways to handle this issue.

1.   Prioritize your spending. Figure out what needs to be paid, what are the most important things in your budget that need to be covered, and start saying “no” to things that can wait or that you really do not need.

2.   Make cuts where possible. Once you determine what is necessary, trim out the rest.

3.   If you have debt, contact your creditors and find out about your options. Look at a reduction in interest rates or find a payment plan to make your payments more manageable.

4.   Seek additional income.  Find ways to earn more with a part-time job.

When people struggle with challenging times, they often feel alone.  It is helpful to remember that we are all in this together, and there are a number of resources available on post that offer support.  The EAP is one resource that specializes in working with employees, their job performance, mental health issues and anything that might affect their job performance, according to Lindsay Tate, an EAP coordinator at Fort Detrick.  The EAP program is highly confidential and provides employees with a free place where they can go and can address personal or performance issues with hope that they can restore their productivity on the job.  EAP services are available to all Army civilians, military retirees, and family members.  The EAP also offers workshops on a variety of topics to promote positive coping and foster a healthier, safer, and more productive workplace. 

Call 301-619-4657 for more information about the EAP, or visit the EAP webpage on the Fort Detrick extranet at http://www.detrick.army.mil/asap/eap.cfm.  For Forest Glen, call 301-295-7166.

For Army Community Services, call 301-619-2197. For more information/guidance regarding Furlough, visit the OPM site at www.opm.gov.

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West Nile Virus: Forgotten but not gone

West Nile Virus (WNV) was first isolated from an adult woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937 and the ecology characterized in Egypt in the 1950’s.  Then in 1957, during an outbreak in Israel, the virus became recognized as a cause of severe human meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain) in elderly patients.  In 1999, WNV appeared in North America, with encephalitis reported in humans and horses.  The subsequent spread in the U.S. is an important milestone in the evolving history of this virus.

When West Nile Viruswas first detected in the U.S. in 1999, only four states (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland) had reports of WNV in animals, birds, and/or mosquitoes.  By the end of 2005, WNV had been reported throughout the continental U.S. 

 In 2002, 4 novel routes of WNV transmission to humans were documented for the first time: 1) blood transfusion, 2) organ transplantation, 3) transplacental transfer, and 4) breastfeeding.  In 2004, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that more than 1,000 blood donors had tested positive for WNV in the U.S., making [it] one of the most common illnesses that can be acquired through transfusions.

The height of the WNV outbreak in the U.S. occurred during 2002 and 2003.  In 2002, WNV infected 4,156 people nationwide and claimed 284 lives, making that year one of the deadliest mosquito-borne illness years in recent U.S. history.  In 2003, there were 9,862 cases of WNV reported with 264 deaths.

While Fort Detrick was able to dodge WNV in 2001 by successfully locating and eliminating potential mosquito breeding areas, the spread of the virus overwhelmed the entire northeast region, finally landing at Fort Detrick in July 2002, with the discovery of the first WNV infected bird.  Later, during August 2002, WNV infected mosquitoes were found at Fort Detrick.

The result of finding WNV infected birds and mosquitoes at Fort Detrick was stepped-up efforts to minimize or eliminate mosquito breeding areas, including coordinated efforts between Industrial Hygiene/Environmental Health Office, Environmental Management Office, and Directorate of Public Works (DPW). Together, they inspected and cleaned out storm drains, stocked ponds with mosquito-eating fish, and applied an environmentally safe larvicide to areas with standing, stagnant water.

This year, the same successful and effective measures have been taken. While heavy rains and numerous construction sites continue to present a challenge, Fort Detrick is confident that ongoing efforts, continued surveillance (particularly at construction sites), and early application of a larvicide will once again provide uniformed military members, civilians, family members, and guests a safe, comfortable summer.

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Forest Glen Annex Temporarily Closing Gate

Beginning July 15, Forrest Glen Annex will close Linden Gate to vehicles and pedestrians due to furlough staffing reductions. All vehicles and pedestrians must use Brookville Gate for all entries and exits, 24/7.  

With this change the Montgomery County Ride-on Bus Number 4 will no longer enter the installation and riders should use the Linden & Warren Street bus stop and walk down to Brookville Rd. for installation access.   

Northbound riders are advised to use the Number 2 Northbound to access the post interior which will eliminate the long walk to the post.

This closure will impact commuters and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we get through the impacts of sequestration and furlough.  The approved route will also be available by viewing the Fort Detrick website at: http://www.detrick.army.mil/assets/LindenGateClosure.pdf

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21st Signal Brigade Soldiers Participate in Police Cadet Training Exercise

“You have the right to remain silent!”

That is never a phase you hope to hear, unless of course you are part of the 21st Signal Brigade participating in their fifth annual training exercise with the Frederick County Police Department at the Charles V. Main Training Facility located in Frederick, Md., on June 26-27.

 The 21st Signal is located at Fort Detrick, Md. and is tasked with providing global information services to enable battle command for the President of the United States, the soldier, and other federal agencies.

Through a unique partnership with local law enforcement, 18 soldiers from the brigade were invited to the Maryland Police Training Facility in Frederick to train with officials and cadets.

Currently, 11 cadets are going through the academy. Seven of these cadets will go on to become Frederick Police officers; two are training for the Brunswick Police Department and two for the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

 “The cadets are in the third month of their seven-month training, and it’s time to start putting the classroom on its feet to see how they handle situations,” says Sgt. Sean Carr with the Frederick City Police Department. “We enjoy having the soldiers help us out with this part of the training.”

The partnership offers an unmatched opportunity for both groups to interact and train in situations that would not be possible with civilians. The soldiers role-played in a variety of scenarios to offer the most realistic training opportunity possible for the cadets. This training covers such circumstances as traffic stops, drug trafficking, domestic situations, and disorderly crowds. The training also covers the topic of sexual assault, calling to mind the recently mandated U.S. Army SHARP [Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention] training; demonstrating that while both soldiers and police officers need to be stern in many situations they encounter, they must also display compassion.

“The Frederick Police Department and the 21st Signal Brigade have joined forces going on five years,” says Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Blythe. “We allow the Soldiers to act out real life scenarios to aid the officers with their cadet training, and in turn, the Police Department allows us use of their facilities to conduct military training in a field environment.” 

Putting on their acting hats, the 21st Signal Brigade delivered on their promise to give their best at whatever they were assigned. SPC Alicia Hurd was one “trouble-maker” that the cadets hope they will never encounter once they are sworn in to protect and serve.

 “I’m not a trained actor, but when they say go, I surprisingly like to cause trouble -- the person you’ll see is not me at all,” says Hurd. “But it’s been fun to play the roles and see how the cadets handled it.”

She noted her behavior during the traffic stop exercise in particular.

“I jumped over the back of the car seats and locked the cops out during the routine traffic stop exercise,” says Hurd. “In one exercise they gave me the chance to run, and I ran.”

The soldiers gave the cadets a healthy dose of reality during the two 80-degree plus days in June.  Aggressive behavior, bloody knees, sweat, and tears were presented to the cadets – all with the hopes of training them for a successful future in law enforcement.

But the cadets gave it right back as the soldiers were asked to play difficult roles, such as the aggressive bar patron, drug user, and sexual assault victim. In one instance, the Frederick Police Department even called in the big dogs, literally, as two members of the squad’s canine unit were called in for a staged narcotics bust. As a result of the training, the soldiers learned a great deal about law enforcement techniques, and they discovered firsthand arrest procedures.

“These are exactly the types of real-life situations that we as cadets need for our training. This is a great way for us to experience these situations in the safety of the training environment,” says Cadet Derek Ingman. “It’s good for the soldiers too, because we get to show them defensive take downs that could come in handy for them as well. It’s a great partnership for all involved.”

The 21st Signal Brigade and the Frederick City Police Department plan to continue their partnership, as it has proven to be a valuable training opportunity for two groups that protect and serve our communities and our nation. Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Blythe contributed to this article.

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Fort Detrick Improves Installation Access for Gold Star Families

The U.S. Army Installation Management Command recently implemented a program to ensure family members of fallen soldiers have easier access to Army installations. In the Spring 2013, several Army installations began issuing a standardized Gold Star Installation Access Card to parents and siblings of deceased active duty soldiers to allow unescorted access to an installation and provided reserved parking, so they are able to receive services and support. These cards are now available at Fort Detrick and will be issued to family members who are entitled to receive the Gold Star Lapel Button or the Gold Star Next of Kin Lapel Button.  

The issue of installation access was raised to the Department of the Army level through the Army Family Action Plan program, which provides a grassroots forum for members of the Army community to raise quality of life concerns.

The card was created in response to this feedback after reaching the highest levels of Army leadership. In addition to providing access to all Army installations, the new identification card also serves as a small way of paying tribute to surviving family members.

Currently the Department of Defense Physical Access Control Policy requires everyone seeking entrance to a military Installation to stop at the gate and present a government issued photo identification. A Gold Star Installation Access Card, which is good for two years, will serve as local access credentials in accordance with DoD Security Standards. It is intended solely for recognition and access purposes - it does not grant additional entitlements or privileges (such as Post Exchange or Commissary) that one is not already authorized. The card also cannot be used for the Trusted Traveler Program and may not be accepted at Navy, Marine, or Air Force bases. 

For more information on this program please contact our Survivor Outreach Services Cat 301-619-2197.

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