Sesame Street Friends Help Military Children Move
Children in military families move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school, and a mobile app launched in December can help them cope with leaving a familiar place for the unknown.
The Big Moving Adventure app lets children create a Muppet friend to help them through the moving process.
Developed for the Defense Department in partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, the mobile app is available for download from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon for Kindle Fire.
"Moving can be stressful, and kids need to express feelings and say goodbye to people and things," said Dr. Kelly Blasko, psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. "The Muppet characters in this app help make the move a fun experience."
Children can use the app to help their Muppet friend make decisions on a variety of move-related issues, such as which toys to pack in a box and which to take along in their backpack. Children watch the Muppet say goodbye to their house, their military base and their classroom and playground friends. At the new house, children help their Muppet unpack, settle into the home and make new friends.
Military parents face unique challenges during a move, and the app helps their young children through the experience. A separate parents section contains additional move-related topics and tips.
The Big Moving Adventure mobile app is the newest addition to a portfolio of multimedia resources developed by Sesame Workshop, in collaboration with the Defense Department, to help military families with deployments and life transitions.
While developed specifically for military families with children 3 to 5 years old, it is useful for all families with young children experiencing a move, officials said.
Army to Restructure Warrior Transition Units
The Army announced it will restructure its warrior transition units as the service prepares for a scheduled withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and a continued decline in the number of combat wounded.
Warrior transition units are located at major military treatment facilities and provide support to wounded, ill and injured soldiers who require at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management.
According to Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander of Warrior Transition Command and the Army's assistant surgeon general for warrior care and transition, "These changes will improve the care and transition of soldiers through increased standardization, increased cadre-to-soldier ratios, improved access to resources on installations, and reduced delays in care. They are not related to budget cuts, sequestration or furloughs."
As part of the restructuring, the Army will inactivate five WTUs and establish more than a dozen community care units across 11 installations by Sept. 30. The transition will include inactivating nine community-based warrior transition units, which currently provide outpatient care and services for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers who do not require day-to-day care, allowing soldiers to continue their recovery closer to home.
After the transition, those soldiers will be assigned to community care units located on Army installations. Soldiers will not have to move or change their care plans, officials said.
Community care units will stand up at the following Army installations: Fort Carson, Colo.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Forts Hood and Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Forts Benning, Stewart, and Gordon, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Belvoir, Va.
— From a Defense Department News Release
DARPA's 'Bionic' Upper Limb Enhances Life for Amputees
It's metal, sleek and precise. It pivots and flexes like a real hand, or at least one from a science-fiction movie.
But with no Hollywood special effects involved, brain research experts at yesterday's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Congressional Tech Showcase here demonstrated an artificial arm and hand that can do everything from picking up cups to playing the piano, powered by the user's brain.
Mike McLoughlin, chief engineer for research and exploratory development at Johns Hopkins University's applied physics laboratory, said DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program developed the device over about five years to improve the quality of life for service members who suffered the loss of an upper extremity.
"Five, six years ago [an amputee's] option was essentially a hook," McLoughlin said. "We want to give them a much greater level of functionality, because what they really want to do is go back and contribute to society."
The demo also featured an excerpt from a 60 Minutes episode that aired in 2013 showing Jan, a patient suffering from a neurological condition, with two electrode chips, each about the size of a fingernail, in her brain.
Even simple tasks such as picking up a cup of coffee are the result of a complex series of commands and information "behind the scenes" in the brain, McLoughlin explained. "We're able to take those complex things and reduce them down to simple thoughts."
With the help of the arm and hand, Jan moved, interacted and grasped objects in a more natural way, McLoughlin said, adding that the arm also can function with information gleaned from a computer script.
He described the arm's future and range of potential applications as "exciting" for service members and civilians alike.
— Amaani Lyle, American Forces Press Service
'No Room for Error,' Hagel Tells Troops
The nation depends on the professionalism of service members like the airmen of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today on a visit to the base.
"We have all the great technology in the world -- and we have better technology than anyone -- and we are the strongest country on Earth ... but it takes people, it takes leadership, it takes commitment," Hagel told the airmen.
Through investments in modernization and by focusing on reducing the nuclear stockpile under the START II treaty, the United States is demonstrating its commitment to maintaining a capable and safe nuclear deterrent, he said.
"It's clearly in our national security interests," Hagel said.
"And as I had an opportunity to view some of this today to get down really where the operational dynamics are real, and not just theory or in PowerPoint presentations, but it's clear that we've got some work to do on modernization," the defense secretary said.
Hagel told the airmen that the American people have great confidence in their ability to perform under extraordinary conditions.
"You've also chosen a profession where there's no room for error. In what you do every day, there is no room for error, none," he said.
Under such conditions, Hagel said, it's important to constantly hone and develop personal, professional and institutional skills. Because even though the nation doesn't go to war every day, the defense secretary said, "every day we help prevent war. That's what we are about. And we do that better than anyone else."
"How you do the job is really as important as the job itself, because it sets a standard of expectation for yourselves and for everybody around you," Hagel said. "You're all leaders. You're all role models. And that's a heavy burden to carry."
The defense secretary was on the final stop of a two-day trip to bases in Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas.
— Claudette Roulo, American Forces Press Service