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Today is spouse appreciation day for the military. Since 1984, the Armed Forces have set aside a special day to acknowledge the significant contributions of military spouses. The day is designed to acknowledge the unique challenges that face military families and spouses. Whether here stateside or thousands of miles away, the members of the military are well aware that the hardships that many of the face would be much greater if weren't for the spouse.
Former Army Secretary Togo West says there can never be too much preparation for the type of tragedy that occurred at the base late last year. West, a co-chairman of a review panel looking into the shooting said the emerging concern is to protect the armed forces against an internal threat. He added their review concluded it is critical to be able to identify those who turn to radicalization, create vulnerability within the military forces and are led to commit acts of violence.
The Pentagon's chief information officer is conducting an agency-wide review of the use of popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Officials are trying to balance the benefits of allowing the use of social networking on recruiting, public affairs and troop morale, against the potential security risks. Defense Secretary Gates gets a report on ‘web 2.0' at the end of this month, and department-wide policy is expected out in late September.
The U.S. Army has picked two firms -- Clark Energy Group of Bethesda, and Acciona Solar Power of Henderson, Nevada -- to help develop and build the largest solar power array in the Department of Defense. It will be built at Fort Irwin, in California's Mojave Desert. When complete, the solar farm will generate 500 megawatts using photovoltaic cells, and solar concentrators, which turns the heat of the sun into electricity.
The goat is traditionally the mascot of the U.S. Navy. But at Camp Williams in Utah, the Army National Guard is putting goats to work as fire protection officers. Since 1999, the Utah Guard has enlisted more than 12-hundred goats and sheep to consume sagebrush and oak brush that usually become fuel for wildfires. Goat-created firebreaks stopped big fires from spreading in 2001, and 2006.
When wounded service members come to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for treatment, they and their families should not feel like they are tied down to the northwest DC campus. That's the goal of the "Yellow Ribbon Fund". The Organization provides free rental cars to family members through local car dealer Jack Fitzgerald, and also a mentor/internship program where a service member can learn job skills.
In Iraq, soldiers from the U.S. Army's 172nd Infantry Brigade are helping historians, preservationists and documentarians maintain ancient Iraqi history. The brigade provides transportation and security for the World Monuments Fund in the ancient city of Babylon, home of the famed Hanging Gardens. Along with preserving the past, soldiers are trying to insure Babylon's future as a possible tourist destination
President and Mrs. Obama recently drove to Fort McNair here in Southwest DC to help stuff napsacks for military children attending the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple summer camps. They packed those 15,000 bags with snacks, books, and even a baseball trading card of presidential pooch "Bo". Its is part of the President's "United We Serve" summer volunteer initiative.
Multiple deployments can be tough on military familes, but they're especially tough on the children. School work suffers, and surveys show behavioral problems increase. The Pentagon tries to help with the Military Family Live Consultant program, which makes counselors available to families. There are resources available online at the Military One Source, Military Homefront and the Military Community and Family Policy websites.