2012 Warrior Games Open

First lady Michelle Obama and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, applaud during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 30.The 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs officially opened Monday and among those paying tribute to the wounded warrior athletes were First Lady Michelle Obama and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The athletes are a reminder of what service members have endured during ten years of war, and of the ability of wounded warriors to lead successful lives after returning home, Dempsey told the American Forces Press Service.

“What they provide us is an incredible example by what they do to overcome their disabilities,” he said. “… They are resetting their lives, really, and to the rest of the force that’s also over ten years of war and deployments and different stresses and strains who might on occasion wonder can they really reinvent themselves as we all have to do at some point in our lives . . . I think they are an incredible inspiration to what is possible.”

More than 200 competitors representing the four services and the Coast Guard are taking part in the games.

“Every one of them has a different set of challenges, as do their families,” Dempsey said. “It’s a great opportunity for me, as the chairman, to kind of build my understanding of those challenges but also, importantly, to thank the young men and women and their families and the organizations that are supporting them.”

The Warrior Games will run through May 5.

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Adm. Mike Mullen Speaks Out as He Bids Farewell to Forces

Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen is sworn in as the 17th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and takes the oath of office from Marine Gen. Peter Pace during an Armed Forces Hail and Farewell ceremony at Ft. Myer, Va., Oct. 1. (Defense Department photo/Cherie A. Thurlby)

This is the final day of service for Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Adm. Mullen also spoke with National Public Radio as he headed into retirement. In his interview with Steve Inskeep, Mullen reinforced his earlier assertion that Pakistan is backing a terrorist network – the Haqqanis.

“On the Pakistani side of the border. And I am losing American soldiers. The Haqqanis are killing American soldiers. And from that perspective, I think it’s got to be addressed, which is the reason I spoke to it.”

A full copy of Adm. Mullen’s NPR transcript is available HERE.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen receives a tour of Forward Operating Base Assassin in Iraq by Col.Terry Ferrell, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Oct. 5, 2007. Mullen is on his first tour of the central command area of operations to visit with the leadership and service members assigned to the region. DOD photo by U.S. Navy .

Below is Adm. Mike Mullen’s parting message to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

To the men, women and families of the armed forces of the United States:

It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve as your Chairman for the last four years. Everywhere Deborah and I went to see you and your families we walked away humbled by the magnitude of the responsibility you have volunteered to carry and strengthened by the willingness and dignity with which you carry it.

From my first day on the job, I pledged to ensure you had the right strategy, leadership and resources to accomplish your missions. I believe we worked hard to get that right. But you are the ones who turned back the tide of violence in Iraq, made huge strides towards a more secure Afghanistan and defended our Nation’s interests around the globe. Even with all the demands we’ve placed on you, you still look for ways to do even more to help those in need.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the burdens placed on you and your families. Your sacrifices will be forever fixed in my heart, and I am eternally grateful for your service.

Following the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” Today, I could use those very words to describe our thoughts of you. We are deeply honored to have served for and with you. May God bless you and your families always.

The Department of Defense has set up a web page bidding “Farewell to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen. It includes a chart showing his travel as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 2011 alone, Mullen traveled to 22 countries and was gone 57 days.

U.S. Military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy Officially Ends

President Barack Obama signs the certification stating that the statutory requirements for repeal of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) have been met, in the Oval Office, July 22, 2011. Pictured, from left, are: Brian Bond, Deputy Director of Public Liaison; Kathleen Hartnett, Associate Counsel to the President; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Effective today (Tuesday – Sept. 20, 2011), statements about sexual orientation or lawful acts of homosexual conduct will not be considered as a bar to military service or admission to Service academies, ROTC or any other accession program,” that’s the official word from a Memorandum sent out by the Under Secretary of Defense Clifford Stanley.

Additional materials distributed by the Department of Defense regarding repeal of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:

One poll taken after the Congressional repeal of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” showed support by 67 percent. However, not all agree with the policy change that for the first time allows U.S. military members to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of reprisal.

Here are a series of National Public Radio reports on the repeal and what to expect:

The Stars and Stripes article on repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is generating some online comments some supportive others predict the repeal is “Not going to work out well at all.”

And there’s the magazine OutServe for the Association of Actively Serving LGBT Military Personnel. The “Repeal Issue” for September 2011 features a photo essay of military members “who served in silence” during the 18 years of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Military Retirement, Veteran Benefitts: Are Changes Coming?

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen visits the memorial commemorating seven CIA agents that were killed in a December 2009 suicide attack at Camp Chapman, Afghanistan, July 31, 2011. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

American Forces Press Service – The military retirement isn’t going to change any time soon, Defense Department officials said.

“There’s no immediate plan to affect retirement,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told service members at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, July 31.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said any changes to military retirement should be studied carefully and should be “grandfathered” so the military doesn’t break faith with those in the service.

Breaking the faith with those currently serving in active duty is a concern. Recently, an Army Major with close to 20 years service shared with me that the retirement benefits were part of why he stayed in. Now he feels their threatened and worries those who have served may become a budget sacrifice.

The budget reduction process in Washington DC has veterans fearing betrayal well.

Veterans for Common Sense and VoteVets.org sent a strongly worded joint letter to Congress demanding that veterans’ healthcare and benefits be removed from consideration for budget cuts as part of the recent deficit deal. The organization’s talking points:

1. Veterans want a guarantee from Congress that healthcare and benefits for our troops and veterans are “off the table.”  That means no cuts.

2. Veterans support increased funding for jobs, healthcare, and other benefits for our veterans, as the GI Bill is a proven successful model social program that benefits both our veterans and our entire country.

3. Veterans support increased revenue, especially from the rich, as mentioned by billionaire Warren Buffett, to demonstrate shared responsibility.

4. Veterans support greater oversight of trillions of dollars missing from Department of Defense accounts and the continued military withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan as ways to save Americans’ money.

The Associated Press article on their efforts.

Debt Ceiling, Budget Debate Concerns Troops in Afghanistan

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen addresses troops Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, July 28, 2011. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

Marines and soldiers at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan and in Kandahar this week got a chance to ask questions of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he visited bases throughout the country.

Did they ask about operations, tactics or policy? No. The chairman was peppered with questions about the Congressional debate on raising the debt ceiling and forcing deep budget cuts.

The U.S. Treasury delivers service members’ pay checks, and sends them to veterans and Social Security recipients. “That’s something that the government leadership will have to figure out,” Mullen told the troops. “I honestly hope we don’t get there. But I don’t expect it will affect — certainly in the short-term — operations here and operations around the world.”

So, even in a combat area, U.S. troops are worried about getting paid in the short-term and concerned about cuts in veterans’ benefits in the long-term. To read the full story by By Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service, click HERE.

The U.S. Troops in Afghanistan aren’t the only worried ones. The following is from a U.S. Army Veteran who posted on Vantage Point, a VA guest blog for Veterans and others.

Lawrence Fox

By Lawrence Fox

As the debt debate goes on, my greatest fear is that all Veterans will suffer because of the lack of action and/or compassion we are receiving from Washington.

After watching the President’s address and the Republican response on July 25, 2011 I am relieved. You may ask why a Veteran fighting cancer would feel relief from the confusion and parasitism going on in Washington as the government threatens to reduce Veteran benefits and entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare which so many Americans require to exist from day-to-day.

To read Fox’s full blog entry, click HERE.

And the website MilSpouse.com has a special page set up for military spouses with tips from USAA on what they can do should the debt ceiling not be raised in time.

Gates and Mullen on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal

The Senate voted 65-31 on Saturday to overturn the ban on gays serving openly in the military, NPR reported. The measure now goes to President Obama, who made repeal of the 17-year-old policy a campaign promise in 2008.
 

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates

Statement by Secretary Robert Gates on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

“I welcome today’s vote by the Senate clearing the way for a legislative repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell‘ law.

“Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully.  This effort will be led by Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and himself a retired Marine Corps major general and infantry officer.

“The legislation provides that repeal will take effect once the President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementation of the new policies and regulations written by the Department is consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.  As I have stated before, I will approach this process deliberately and will make such certification only after careful consultation with the military service chiefs and our combatant commanders and when I am satisfied that those conditions have been met for all the Services, commands and units.

“It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today’s historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time.  In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect.

“Successful implementation will depend upon strong leadership, a clear message and proactive education throughout the force.  With a continued and sustained commitment to core values of leadership, professionalism and respect for all, I am convinced that the U.S. military can successfully accommodate and implement this change, as it has others in history.”

 

Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Statement by Adm. Mike Mullen on Senate Vote to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

“I am pleased to see the Congress vote to repeal the law governing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Handling this through legislation preserves the military’s prerogative to implement change in a responsible, deliberate manner.

“More critically, it is the right thing to do. No longer will able men and women who want to serve and sacrifice for their country have to sacrifice their integrity to do so. We will be a better military as a result.

“I look forward to working with Secretary Gates and the Service chiefs as we set about the task of preparing and certifying the joint force to implement the new law. And I am committed to making sure that process is well-led, maintains our combat readiness and upholds our high standards.”

Adm. Mullen: Fewer Military Moves, More Community Help

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I’ve got 40,000 physically wounded, I’ve got hundreds of thousands with [post-traumatic stress] ,” Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the World Congress on Disabilities Friday in Dallas, Texas.

He said the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs need to find new ways for ongoing care of injured warriors because the current “model” has “generated a homeless level, post-Vietnam … that we’re still dealing with 50, 60 years later.”

Mullen applauded advances in treating Traumatic Brain Injury especially in the battlefield and creating better prosthetics for amputees. He said more needs to be done to prevent suicide which is increasing in the military.

He talked about building resilience in the spouses and children of military families. One suggestion he believes could be adopted is to reduce the number of times military families are made to move. Mullen also called on community leaders to help with the education, employment and health care of the returning veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

To read the full article by Karen Parrish of the American Forces Press Service, on Adm. Mullen’s address, click here.

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