Military

President Barack Obama made his first trip as commander in chief to Fort Bragg yesterday. He was there to thank all American troops for their service in Iraq.

President Obama spoke in a sunlit airplane hangar before about 3-thousand troops and their families. He told them their service was selfless and historic, and would be remembered.

President Barack Obama: "You served a cause greater than yourselves. You helped forge a just and lasting peace with Iraq and among all nations. I could not be prouder of you. And America could not be prouder of you."

Service members, politicians and consumer advocates gathered in a round table meeting at the North Carolina National Guard headquarters today to discuss financial protections and hardships facing members of the military. Hundreds of service members struggling with debt have their security clearances revoked every year, making them ineligible for certain promotions and deployments. U.S. Representative Brad Miller says there are laws to help protect members of the military from predatory lending practices, but not enough people know about them.

Communities all over North Carolina will gather today to honor the country's military veterans. Raleigh will play host to an Air Force band performance as well as the annual Veterans Day parade. In Johnston County, high school students are producing a video presentation for local veterans. District spokeswoman Terri Sessoms says ROTC students will also perform an armed exhibition drill.

A team of professors at N.C. State is starting a program of language and culture classes for special operations soldiers. The Language Training Center will offer six-week intensive courses to prepare special ops members for deployment overseas. Program director Dwight Stephens says the classes are designed to bridge the gap between soldier and civilian.

A Veteran's clinic and several hundred jobs are likely heading to Kernersville.

A recent study outlines efforts at North Carolina's military bases to help the Department of Defense reduce energy consumption. The report is from the Pew Charitable Trust. It says Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune are using energy reduction projects and bio-fuel to cut costs. Coby Jones is the energy program coordinator at Fort Bragg. He says recent renovations have cut energy consumption by 23 percent at 30 of the base's older buildings.

43 soldiers at Fort Bragg suffered heat-related injuries this morning during a 12-mile march. That's according to spokeswoman Jackie Thomas. Thomas says 25 of them were treated on the spot. 18 of them were transported to Womack Medical Center, where 13 of them were admitted, and one of them was placed in Intensive Care Unit.

Jackie Thomas: "I wouldn't attribute that to them being pushed too far. You know, you have to understand, it's a pretty grueling series of things that they've been going through in this competition. "

The Veterans Affairs office in Fayetteville is looking for ways to help homeless veterans there. The VA says the number of homeless female veterans is rising as more women serve in the military. Stephanie Felder is the homeless program coordinator at the VA in Fayetteville. She says the meeting attracted nonprofit groups and employment agencies to help put male and female veterans back to work.

The Army is looking to hire more substance abuse counselors at Fort Bragg.

The head of the Army's substance abuse program says the number of troops abusing alcohol has doubled in the last five years. About 11,000 soldiers were treated for alcohol abuse in 2010. 2,000 more were using drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Military doctors say some soldiers resort to substance abuse after going through the stressful cycle of training, fighting overseas and readjusting to life at home. The Army is calling for 130 more counselors at major bases, including 10 at Fort Bragg.

A defense trade show today and tomorrow in Fayetteville seeks to encourage collaboration between the defense industry and local businesses. Scott Dorney is Executive Director of the North Carolina Military Business Center, which is co-hosting the event.

Scott Dorney: "It is an opportunity for us to have both major defense contractors and also North Carolina companies who are in the defense marketplace and those who want to be. And it gives us a venue to connect."

App Helps Vets with PTSD

Jul 15, 2011

Many veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who come into Veterans Affairs Hospitals are being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. There are many ways to treat them, but one challenge for therapists is helping veterans track of their symptoms and learn how to deal with them. Now the VA has introduced a smart phone application to help.

A homeless shelter for women veterans in Fayetteville is getting a makeover. The ABC reality television program "Extreme Makeover Home Edition," selected the shelter run by former Navy officer Barbara Marshall. Her organization Steps-n-Stages works to house women vets in the home. It will be renovated by a company called Blue Ridge Log Cabins. The show has also partnered with the USO of North Carolina to organize a food drive for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Renee Lane is director of the Fort Bragg Center of the USO of North Carolina. She says there will be a big food drive this Sunday in Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville.

Battle of Bentonville
UNC-Chapel Hill, NC Collection

  The site of the bloodiest battle in North Carolina history is now the location for a memorial to confederate soldiers. A ceremony tomorrow afternoon will recognize a long lost graveyard at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. Derrick Brown is the assistant manager of the facility. He says an old photo and some new technology helped find the area where confederate soldiers were buried. 

Marines at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville have a new facility to train for their biggest threat in Afghanistan: roadside bombs.

Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are responsible for nearly 80 percent of combat deaths in Afghanistan. The Marine Corps says Camp Lejeune's new training facility will ensure Marines are as prepared as possible before going into harm's way.

North Carolina military bases are on a heightened level of security after Osama bin Laden's death this week. Top commanders directed all U.S. military installations to a status called Force Protection Condition Bravo. It's the middle level of a five-stage security system. The order came Sunday morning, before President Obama announced American forces had killed bin Laden. Camp Lejeune spokesman Nat Fahy says marines and sailors are taking basic steps to ensure safety.

Wake County is hosting a networking fair today for organizations that support military personnel and their families. County leaders say the event is designed to develop stronger ties between local military groups. Randy Marsh is chair of the Wake County Military and Veterans Resource Coalition.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are due at a celebration for 40 expectant mothers at Camp Lejeune this morning. The visit is part of a 2-day national tour and comes a day after Mrs. Obama announced a new initiative to support military families. The non-profit Operation Shower is hosting the event. LeAnn Morrissey, creator of Operation Shower, says she started the group as a way to give back to those wives whose husbands are fighting overseas.

A new project aims to give combat veterans and their families some rest and relaxation on the beach. Kevin McCabe is one of the founders of the Cape Hatteras Wounded Warriors project. Its main goal is to provide Purple Heart recipients with vacation getaways on Hatteras Island. McCabe says the idea was born out of a desire to give something back to those who have served their country.

Harrier at night aboard USS Kearsarge
26th MEU

Marines from Camp Lejeune are part of the coalition conducting air-strikes on Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit joined attacks yesterday. Officials said they were successful in destroying military targets near Bengazi. Marines in the 26th began their deployment by aiding refugees of massive floods in Pakistan last August.

Ten people were injured in an explosion on Fort Bragg last night. The injured are eight marines and two navy personnel. Marine staff sergeant Jayson Price says the explosion happened during a routine spring exercise called “Rolling Thunder.” The exercise uses live ammunition including 155 millimeter howitzers.

"The cause of the incident is under investigation and the regiment remains in a check firing status, meaning they’re not firing until safe training can resume," Price says.

A community college in Jacksonville is seeing a number of its students struggle with the effects of traumatic brain injuries. School administrators at Coastal Carolina Community College held a presentation this week to get the word out to students about the help available to them. The proximity to Camp Lejeune and the large veteran population means a number of students have suffered injuries in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Christopher Sabin, the college’s Director for Veterans Programs, says many students hide their problems:

A fair being held at Fort Bragg today will focus on resiliency. The first-ever “Resiliency Fair” is a chance for soldier and their families to learn about some of the support services available at the sprawling Army post. Master Sergeant Jennifer Loredo says resiliency is an important part of being a soldier:

"Being able to bounce back from an event that happens in your life and either grow from it or move forward. Soldiers and family members and people in general really can always work on improving their resilience, and so that’s kind of what this is about."

battleshipnc.com

A relic of World War II and source of pride for North Carolinians is getting some much-needed repairs. The Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington will have work done on its hull starting in April. But people will be able to tour the ship as the work is taking place.

Spokeswoman Heather Loftin says it's an opportunity for a new generation to experience history in the making:

defense.gov

New barracks at Fort Bragg will improve the way the fort treats wounded soldiers. That's according to officers with the fort's Wounded Warrior Battalion. They say the building will consolidate operations from nine facilities to one. Major Dennis Small is the executive officer of the battalion. He says the new barracks advance a recovery process that already works.

Family and friends of America's fallen soldiers and civilians lost since 9/11 will be among the attendees at a ceremony on Fort Bragg today. Base officials are unveiling a monument honoring the dead this afternoon. Sergeant Major LaMonte Caldwell is participating in the event. He says its very personal for him:

 "I've lost a total of 11 soldiers that worked for me in my command and then also the fact that 36 was injured or maimed during the last operation that was in Afghanistan."

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