Just how important is that extra forty-five minutes in saving the life of a wounded member of the American military?
Garcia leaned forward to emphasize that, "We have made stunning advances in military medicine. In World War II, out of every 100 combat-wounded personnel, about one-third survived. That was improved to nearly two-thirds by Vietnam. Today 94 percent survive. We are bringing Americans home alive that in any previous conflict would have returned in flag-draped coffins."
That's the "great, even historic news," according to Secretary Garcia.
But the challenge that comes with it, he furthered, is how to reintegrate a cadre of wounded heroes back into American life. In other words, Garcia declares: How to ensure that an improvised explosive device, a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) don't become the "Agent Orange" of this generation. According to Garcia, experts tell him that the key to that successful reintegration is, in a word, a job.
"That sense of self-reliance, independence and self-worth is essential to reintegration. We are working with the GEs, the Sears, the Wal-Marts, the Verizons and others in corporate America to make sure that veterans can re-enter the workforce. There are many advantages, especially in maturity, responsibility and technology training for the employer" said Garcia.May 28 and 29, the Department of the Navy will hold their 4th Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring Conference, in Raleigh, N.C., where over 60 companies from the "Research Triangle" and other areas have registered to learn about best hiring practices, and to take part in a Wounded Warrior Hiring Workshop. The average age of those who served is in the early 20s. Garcia extols how their proven leadership, potential for long tenure, mastery of the latest technology and undaunted resiliency makes them model hires for any employer.
What does Secretary Garcia foresee as the greatest challenges ahead for the reserve forces? "After the longest sustained combat operations in U.S. history, we are transitioning to a peacetime footing. But even as defense budgets get leaner, the need for the sustained forward presence that the Navy provides is not shrinking," says Garcia. As an example, he brought up April of 2011, when the Department of the Navy simultaneously provided massive support (16 ships and 2,000 Marines on the ground) to Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. At the same time, Garcia noted that, "...the United States was leading 'Operation Odyssey Dawn' off the coast of Libya to prevent a madman from slaughtering thousands of his own people, heading up the international task force to thwart pirates and ensure the free flow of commerce around the Horn of Africa, conducting a massive humanitarian exercise with allied partners in the Caribbean and, obviously, continuing the fight in Afghanistan." If there were any doubts, Garcia advises that, "Only one Navy in the world has that kind of global span and reach."
For the future, Garcia summarizes how vital the reserve component is for America's national security by declaring that, "There may be a reduction in DoD forces and budgets, but not in the operational tempo of the U.S. Navy."
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