Official: New adenovirus vaccine 'top priority'
Oct 7, 2004 -- WASHINGTON -- Defense Department officials are working to field a new vaccine designed to combat a virus that has plagued military basic training since World War II, DOD's senior medical official said Oct. 5.
The development of a new adenovirus vaccine is a "top priority," Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr. said. The vaccine is slated to become available for servicemember use in 2006, presuming current development efforts remain on schedule and Food and Drug Administration hurdles are cleared, he said.
People exposed to adenovirus, which is often found in a crowded, stressful environment, such as basic training, may experience fever and other flu-like symptoms, said Dr. Winkenwerder, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. The virus usually takes three to five days to run its course, and most people fully recover without ill effects.
However, some people with weakened immune systems or other existing health issues have developed a more serious illness, and a handful of them have died after contracting the virus, he said. There have been six deaths in the past five years among about 960,000 recruits.
Air Force still needs health professionals
Oct 7, 2004 -- RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The Air Force exceeded its enlisted recruiting goal by sending 34,362 people to basic military training in fiscal 2004, but the service was unsuccessful in finding enough physicians, dentists and nurses to meet its health professions goal.
The Air Force had an enlisted recruiting goal of 34,080.
During fiscal 2004 that ended Sept. 30, the service recruited 767 health professionals achieving 83 percent of its goal of 923.
"I salute the efforts of our recruiters who are working hard to find America's best and brightest for our all-volunteer force," said Brig. Gen. Robertus C. N. Remkes, Air Force Recruiting Service commander. "We remain committed to recruiting a diverse, high-quality volunteer force that is representative of the country it serves. In accomplishing this, we must also stay focused on recruiting people in the right skills, at the right time and in the right numbers."
Airmen train with NATO allies during exercise
Oct 7, 2004 -- POCEK, Slovenia -- Airmen from Aviano Air Base, Italy, joined forces with NATO's newest member Oct. 4 to 7 to improve the way they rescue downed pilots.
The training was part of Adriatic Rescue 04, a U.S.-Slovenian combat search-and-rescue exercise.
While Slovenia conducted similar training with the United States before, this was the most comprehensive of its kind to date, involving multiple facets in the air and on the ground, exercise officials said.
"This training is important for improving the interoperability with our NATO allies," said Col. Steve Schrader, 31st Operations Group commander from Aviano. "It's going to greatly benefit both of our countries."
DEET first line of defense against insects
Oct 6, 2004 -- ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Whether hiking in the woods at home or serving in the sands of the Middle East, Airmen need a repellent to shield themselves from biting insects.
The active ingredient in most skin-applied repellents is commonly referred to as DEET. It is a must on almost every deployment checklist and for good reason. It protects servicemembers on the ground from mosquitoes, deer ticks, biting flies, chiggers, fleas and other insects.
"Insect bites are a painful nuisance and may even be a source of disease," said Maj. Martin Alexis, bioenvironmental engineer for Air Force Reserve Command headquarters here. "DEET serves as a first line of defense against biting insects and other vector-borne diseases."
Vector-borne infectious diseases continue to emerge and strengthen because of changes in public-health policy, said officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. As these diseases evolve, they become less susceptible to insecticides and drugs.
Officials unveil employment initiative for wounded vets
Oct 6, 2004 -- WASHINGTON -- Injured servicemembers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan will get individualized job training, counseling and re-employment services, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said Oct. 4.
During a signing ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, Ms. Chao joined Army Maj. Gen. Kenneth Farmer Jr., commanding general at the Army hospital, and Navy Rear Adm. Adam M. Robinson, commanding officer of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to kick off the first phase of Recovery and Employment Assistance Lifelines. REALifelines is a joint commitment by the Department of Labor, the military medical community and local agencies.
Labor Department officials are investing $500,000 into the first phase of the program, which will create a team of on-site counselors at both medical facilities to help wounded veterans in their transition back into the private sector.
REALifeline counselors will help servicemembers identify barriers to employment and set up individual recovery and re-employment plans, Ms. Chao said.
Deployed Soldiers Become U.S. Citizens
Oct 6, 2004 -- BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- For 17 members of the coalition serving in Afghanistan, living the "American Dream" became reality here Oct. 1 when they took the oath of citizenship.
The National Defense Act signed by President Bush last year legalized the naturalization of U.S. servicemembers on foreign soil, allowing these 17 soldiers to become the first to take the oath overseas. Similar ceremonies were slated for Iraq and Germany a few days after the Afghanistan event.
"The people around you are welcoming you as citizens with open arms," said U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad during the ceremony. "You are able to pursue the dreams and high ideals that are part of the American creed."
Ranging in rank from private first class to staff sergeant, the 17 represented 13 different countries, each willing to fight for the country he or she now calls "home."
USAFE AIRPS announces holiday mailing dates
Oct 5, 2004 -- RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Postal Squadron officials recently announced the dates to mail packages to ensure they reach the United States in time for the holidays.
Deployed medics save Iraqi child
Oct 5, 2004 -- TALLIL AIR BASE, Iraq -- Almost a week later, little Nahida still winces when doctors ask about the snake that bit her foot.
Her father, Nafil Radi, a policeman in the local An Nasiriyah precinct of southern Iraq, sits beside the hospital bed and holds her hand. Gently he coaxes her to point out which type of viper she encountered only a few short nights ago.
The 8-year-old girl now rests comfortably in a bed of the 407th Expeditionary Medical Group here. Doctors believe a blunt-nosed viper bit her as she was tending sheep nearby on her family's farm.
People who have seen Nahida during the past few days said it is a miracle the girl is still alive.