With 1,000 U.S. military Reserve forces officers in attendance, 13 civilian and uniformed national Reserve chiefs and directors rolled up their sleeves and received vaccinations against the infectious anthrax bacteria today in a ceremony officiated by Charles L. Cragin, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.
The vaccination ceremony kicked off the mid-winter conference of the Reserve Officers Association at the Washington Hilton & Towers Hotel, 1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW.
The shots are a response to a May 18, 1998 decision by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen to vaccinate all U.S. servicemembers for anthrax. The demonstration also provides a visible leadership effort to communicate the importance of the vaccination for the more than 1.5 million men and women serving in the Reserve and National Guard. Service members require the routine vaccination to participate in and support military operations worldwide, such as Bosnia and Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch in southwest Asia.
"The use of anthrax as a bio-warfare agent poses a very serious threat to U.S. forces deployed around the world," said Cragin. "Our National Guard and Reserve leaders are receiving their inoculations to demonstrate the Department's commitment to protecting the Total Force -active, National Guard and Reserve.
The anthrax vaccine was approved and licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1970 and has been safely and routinely given to veterinarians, laboratory workers, and livestock handlers in the United States since then. The immunization protocol requires six shots over 18 months, then an annual booster.
"Since childhood, all of us have received vaccines to protect us against many diseases, from typhoid to yellow fever, from smallpox to polio," Cragin said. "The anthrax vaccine will protect our troops from another disease-a disease that will kill, a disease that can be used as a weapon."
The following senior officials and general and flag officers received the anthrax vaccination:
- Charles L. Cragin, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs
- Mark Davidson, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
- Bryan E. Sharratt, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Reserve Affairs
- Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Plewes, chief, Army Reserve
- Maj. Gen. Roger C. Schultz, director, Army National Guard
- Maj. Gen. James E. Sherrard III, chief, Air Force Reserve
- Brig. Gen. James Helmly, deputy chief, Army Reserve;
- Brig. Gen. Michael J. Squier, deputy director, Army National Guard
- Rear Adm. John B. Totushek, director, Naval Reserve
- Rear Adm. John F. Brunelli, commander, Naval Surface Reserve Force
- Rear Adm. Thomas J. Barrett, director for Reserve and Training, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
- Col. Howard Schick, deputy director for Reserve Affairs, U.S. Marine Corps
- Capt. James Willis, deputy director for Reserve and Training, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
- Also participating in the ceremony, the following Reserve forces officers prveviously received the anthrax vaccinnation:
- Lt. Gen. Russell C. Davis, chief, National Guard Bureau
- Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert A. Mcintosh, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Brig. Gen. Craig B. McKinley, deputy director, Air National Guard
For more information, call Lt. Col. Terry Jones, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Reserve Affairs at (703) 695-3620, or check the DoD anthrax vaccination program web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/Anthrax.