Friday, January 15, 2010

VFW Washington Weekly


January 15, 2010


In this Issue:

1. Haitian Relief

2. Top Army Family Issues

3. Vietnam MIA Identified


1. Haitian Relief: All Defense Department resources in the Western Hemisphere are available to assist Haiti, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates today in a press conference with Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.  By the end of the weekend, almost 10,000 U.S. servicemembers will be in Haiti or just offshore to aid a 7,000-member UN force, and about 2,000 police in providing security.  Gates said the U.S. is clearly in a position to do more than other countries due to our proximity to Haiti and our capabilities to provide security, search-and-rescue, potable water and medical assistance.  "The key," he said, "is to get the food and the water in there as quickly as possible."  Coordination between DOD and the U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, Homeland Security and Coast Guard is said to be proceeding very well.  Red Cross officials said the death toll from Tuesday's magnitude 7.0 earthquake could reach 50,000.  More DOD Haitian relief information can be found on their website at


2. Top Army Family Issues: The 26th Annual Army Family Action Plan conference concluded today with a briefing of their Top 5 issues to Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey.  The motto of the Army Family Action Plan is to "change the Army one issue at a time," and the 100 conferees represented soldiers, families and Army civilians from every command, to include officers and enlisted personnel from the active, Guard and Reserve forces.  They started the weeklong conference with 82 issues in the broad categories of employment, family support, housing and facilities, medical and dental, and soldier support.  Their task was to whittle the 82 issues down to a Top 16, then the Final 5, which the Army Secretary and Chief of Staff will task out for potential implementation.  The Top 5 issues are:

1. Provide a monthly stipend to soldiers who do not quality for traumatic injury insurance (TSGLI), yet are certified to be in need of assistance from a non-medical caregiver. 

2. Fund a formal program to provide service dogs to wounded warriors. 

3. Increase the number of readily available behavioral health providers and services, and increase the use of alternative methods of delivery, such as telemedicine.

4. Authorize Family Readiness Groups to fundraise in public places other than military installations, Reserve Centers and National Guard Armories.

5. Authorize Reserve Component soldiers to enroll in the Exceptional Family Member Program.

Details will be posted soon on the Army Family Action Plan website at


3. Vietnam MIA Identified: The Defense Department announced Tuesday that the remains of Air Force Maj. Russell C. Goodman of Salt Lake City have been identified and will be returned home to his family for burial in Alaska.  He is to be honored this week at Nellis AFB, NV, home of the Air Force's Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, because he was assigned to the team while flying with the Navy on an exchange program at the time of loss.  On Feb. 20, 1967, Goodman and Navy Lt. Gary L. Thornton took off from the USS Enterprise in an F-4B Phantom on a bombing mission against a railroad yard in Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam.  They were struck by enemy antiaircraft fire and their plane exploded.  Thornton was able to eject at minimum altitude, but Goodman did not.  Thornton was held captive until his release in 1973 during Operation Homecoming.  Between October 1993 and March 2008, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, investigated the crash site twice and conducted two excavations, recovering human remains and pilot equipment, as well as aircraft debris that correlated with an F-4B.  Along with other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA — which matched two of his maternal relatives — to identify Goodman's remains.  Additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans can be found on the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office's website at

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