JCOC Days 5 & 6: Coast Guard Gumby Suits & Walter Reed Intrepid Rehab

August 31, 2012

I had the honor of participating in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference (JCOC) last month. The program is sponsored by the Secretary of Defense for civilian public opinion leaders interested in growing their knowledge of the military and national defense issues. JCOC is the oldest existing DoD outreach program having been held more than 81 times since its inception in 1948. Below are memories from my week with the JCOC. You can see photos from my trip in our Facebook photo gallery.

Friday, July 27: Gumby Suits in Seattle

On to the Coast Guard and the control room for the Seattle Port. We rode in a 47-foot boat and saw the flotation suit demo. They call it a Gumby suit. At lunch I gave Capt. LeBeau some cigars, and I got a Coast Guard coin. My collection was growing! After lunch, we went on for the C-17 flight to Washington DC.

On Friday night we landed at Andrews Air Force Base. We observed wounded warriors being unloaded from another C-17. That was a real somber close to the flight. Getting off our plane, DASD Rene Bartoff shook our hands, hugged and gave each of us a really pretty Challenge Coin.

I also got my Air Force coin from Drea, our Air Force representative on the trip. I gave her a cigar for her boyfriend.

Went to the Hyatt where the bar was closing. Duncan talked the bartender into staying up a little bit longer, and we all had a few drinks with the group before heading off to bed.

Saturday, July 28: Walter Reed Intrepid Rehabilitation Center

We toured the Walter Reed Intrepid Rehabilitation Center and saw lots of neat stuff. Through art therapy, painted masks reveal a lot about wounded soldiers’ inner psyches. There was also a music therapy program. In the prosthetic shop, we saw some very advanced technology like prosthetic legs with computer chips in the knee. We saw a big tilted treadmill table with video capabilities and great big cylinders that help you learn to balance again.

We had a demo of guide dog training. In addition to helping people maneuver through spaces, the dogs can push doors and elevator buttons with their noses.

We met a nice young wounded warrior. Someone asked if the dog would protect him from a mugger and I said, “I think he can take pretty good care of himself.” He smiled.

Finally, it was warm goodbyes.