Milwaukee Navy Week Celebrated

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Members of Navy Band Great Lakes march in the Wisconsin State Fair daily parade during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)



The ninth Navy Week of 2018 hosted America’s Navy during Milwaukee Navy Week August 6 -12 as both Sailors and residents interacted in a series of community outreach events.  The Navy Week program serves as the Navy’s principal outreach effort into areas of the country without a significant Navy presence.  The program is designed to help Americans understand that their Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, ready to defend America at all times.


Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pose for a photograph during the mayor’s proclamation of Milwaukee Navy Week at city hall. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Members of Navy Band Great Lakes march in the Wisconsin State Fair daily parade during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Navy Diver 2nd Class David Purkey, assigned to assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2, poses for a photograph with children at Discovery World Science and Technology Center during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Navy Diver 1st Class Thomas Gerace assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2 places a KM-37 diving helmet on a volunteer at the Milwaukee Public Museum during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Seaman Ashley Watson, assigned to USS Constitution, interacts with children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater LaVarnway during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular)

Lt. Deidre Coulson-Tucker, assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, demonstrates helicopter take-off signals to a volunteer at the Daniels-Mardak Boys & Girls Club during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Master Chief Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chad Harris, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group (EODGRU) 2, demonstrates a bomb-disposal robot to onlookers at the Milwaukee Public Museum during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan J. Batchelder)

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Amanda Stanaway, from Springfield, Ohio, assigned to USS Constitution, interacts with a child at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater LaVarnway Clubhouse during Milwaukee Navy Week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey Scoular)

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Milwaukee Navy Week Celebrated

U.S. Air Force Live

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By Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

“Without mercy, man is like a beast. Even if you are hard on yourself, be merciful to others.” – Quote from Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1954 film, Sansho the Bailiff

On Aug. 20, 2012, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. My bed, usually crowded with my wife, Cece, and two cats, Miki and Lulu, was empty. Down the hallway of the one-floor, three-bedroom house we rented in Cabot, Arkansas, I heard noise from the kitchen. When I went to see what the noise was, I found my 23-year-old wife on the floor and erratically painting on a canvas.

The painting was of an Airman Battle Uniform next to a bottle of prescribed depression medication. Streaks and spots of deep red paint blotched the canvas, which also had gashes and holes littered in it because Cece had been stabbing it with a kitchen knife.

“What the (obscenity) are you doing?” I asked.

She looked up at me, her body shaking, our two cats flanking her sides. I saw a hurt face and fear-riddled eyes, scorched red from sleep deprivation and sobbing. With our little family together in the kitchen that morning, “I’m sorry,” was all she could say.

Lessons in Compassion

Months earlier, Cece was sent to stay for a week at the Bridgeway, a mental health hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Three weeks later, she went back for another week for what eventually became a diagnosis of severe anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

An Airman herself, recent military-related stress of deployments, family separation and being over worked, coupled with the loss of her uncle and past personal traumas, led to my wife’s sleeping problems. She lived in a constant state of fear. Unable to sleep at night, she’d only shake helplessly in the bed next to me. These mounting pressures for my wife led to a serious conflict in our relationship for the first time since we met in 2007. I was seeing a different landscape of what had always been a very happy woman.

Strife at work, a splintered relationship at home, being put on depression medication and sleeping pills, being taken from her home twice for treatment, being whispered about by co-workers, being unambiguously accused of faking her condition by her first sergeant and awaiting the upcoming staff sergeant promotion results sent Cece into a severe panic that morning.

After my wife apologized, I talked her into getting up. We picked up the canvas and painting supplies, but I kept thinking about the red streaks of paint all over the floor and that I’d have to clean it up later. I then made Cece lay in bed until it was time for her to get dressed for her 4 a.m. shift.

The rest of that day reverberates in my conscience. The memories echo in my mind like the lingering twang of a released guitar string.

I received a call from my wife’s co-worker at 6 a.m., telling me to get to their workplace immediately. I found Cece pale-faced, shaking and not wearing boots or belt. I remember taking her to mental health and being unable to sit in on the confidential session. Cece was discharged from mental health and sent back to work. Then, we found out she made staff sergeant, but we didn’t feel like celebrating like we did when I made it two years earlier. I remember a silent car ride home.

As soon as we got to the house, I tried to help Cece sleep, but I couldn’t quell her anxiety. We lay in bed, me holding her and telling her to go to sleep while she shook and whimpered in pain. I silently scorned her condition, constantly thinking about how much effort I had to make for her and how her problems were affecting my behavior. It was a sweet relief when Cece finally stopped shaking and slept. When I finally went to sleep that night, I was glad such an emotionally taxing day was over.

Afterward, things didn’t become easier for us. We kept having arguments, and I became increasingly agitated with my wife, who was still suffering, physically and emotionally. Our problems escalated until one night, after getting off a 4 a.m. – 1 p.m. shift, Cece hadn’t come home by 6:30 p.m., and we argued via text message. At one point I threatened to leave her and told her I couldn’t handle her condition anymore.

After she got home, Cece told me she was thinking about killing herself, and that she thought about intentionally crashing her car into a tree on one of Arkansas’ back roads. Talking to a person so heartlessly while they suffered still shames me. We once again lay on the bed, her unable to sleep or relax and me holding her. I remember vividly what she said to me, “I just need you to help me right now. You know I’ll help you when you need it.”

She was right. During our five years together there were times when I was, at best, difficult to get along with and at worst insufferable.

I’ve always had a confrontational and contentious nature. This makes it hard for me to connect with people, and in my early 20s I often felt lonely and alienated, which led to an unhappiness that I often projected onto other people. Yet, even in my worst moods, I remember my wife holding onto me, joking with me, making me smile or laugh. She may have never known, but her signature smile, a beaming, full teeth-baring grin, often elevated me from the depths of negativity. So when she pleaded with me so bluntly, I couldn’t feel anything but shame and compassion.

This proved a turning point for us, and after that night I tried to act with mercy or compassion toward her struggle. For all of us, life has summits and cellars. No one is exempt from adversity and at times we all need kindness. After that day, I was committed to being supportive before critical and being helpful before skeptical. Things started to improve for both of us.

That’s not to imply everything changed right away. Mental conditions don’t evaporate or disappear because of good intentions. It takes commitment and patience to persevere the brutalities of depression, anxiety and PTSD. My wife still has hard days and difficult moments like everyone else. Traumatic memories still haunt her, but our efforts to keep an open, honest, nonjudgmental and supportive dialogue about ourselves helps. Just a year later, I was confident enough in her recovery to volunteer for an unaccompanied tour to South Korea. Cece is now out of the Air Force and going to school full time, and we’re both happily pursuing our goals and supporting each other as much as we ever have.

So why should anyone care about this highly personal story? Because there are many people like my wife and many people like me. There are people suffering, scarred, afflicted, overburdened and unfairly judged — unsure if something is wrong with them or if they can even ask for help. There are also people in a position to help, but unsure of what to do.

For the last 65 years, May has been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month. For a lot of us these monthly observances, of which there are plenty, are easy to dismiss or blithely endorse. It usually takes a personal stake in the issue to really care about it. Not just my wife, but personal experiences with my family have left me an advocate for the accepting treatment of suffering people. That means not only encouraging those who need it to seek help, but also encouraging others to treat the suffering with patience and kindness, even if they can’t understand them.

I’ve seen the consequences when people don’t get support, and while there’s no catchall method to stop someone from hurting him or herself, treating all people with dignity and compassion is the right place to start. Sometimes we don’t understand the influence we cast on others, how a kind action or showing genuine concern can seriously alter somebody’s day for good and how meanness, cruelty or indifference can do the opposite. It’s possible that kindness is all it can take to convince somebody they can ask for help, or that they’re valuable enough to be cared about.

Cece tells me the hardest thing about asking for help is the inevitable stigma that comes with it. She used to be afraid to talk about her feelings and problems because it was embarrassing and perceived as weakness. Also, personal cases of depression are hard for others to understand.

Much effort has been made to promote the truth that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, but this gives little comfort to people when they’re being ostracized at work or being treated different by friends and family. This is why all of us have a responsibility to value and care for the people around us. It’s important to treat those seeking help kindly, because despite progressive efforts, negative attitudes still exist.

However, I’m not writing this to ask you to change your mind about mental health. If you truly believe someone is faking a condition or if you think they’re too sensitive or weak for asking for help, chances are I’m not going to convince you otherwise.

Instead, compassion is my gospel. Treat those who are suffering, even if you’re skeptical, with mercy.

There’s no simple solution to the ailments of mental health. No acronyms, pills, PowerPoint slides, books, slogans or training can cure anxiety, depression or PTSD. There is, however, a universally good starting point, which is being respectful and compassionate to everyone, but especially to those who share their struggles and seek help.

If we do this, the worst thing we can do is be excessively nice. The best we can do may be to bring someone back from the abyss. Kindness, mercy and compassion are traits I value in people above all else. Her abundance of these is one of the reasons I fell in love with Cece when we were dating in 2008, and her enduring and helpful nature has inspired me and helped me be a better person ever since.

Celebrated poet John Donne poignantly wrote: “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.”

As human beings, Americans, service members and Airmen, we should not take the suffering of our own lightly or callously, but as a detriment to our family. Every single loss diminishes the whole, and every single person in the world is important.

In our living room, centered above our couch, we proudly display the painting Cece attacked with a knife. Its presence reminds me that we all have flaws and need support in our weakest moments. As individual human beings, the mistakes we make and scars we give and take can’t be undone any more than knife punctures can be erased from a canvas. We can never take back what we say and do. The wounds we endure never completely heal. However, as someone’s fellow human being, we have the chance to help by supporting each other. The most important thing in life isn’t what you did or what you’ll do, but what you’re willing to do now. There’s no nobler impulse in mankind than mercy, and there’s an abundance of people in the world who need it. Help them.

PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Jake Barreiro and Cece Guadalupe Ortiz days before their wedding Jan. 3, 2011, in Dover, Del. They first met in December 2007, began dating June 1, 2008, and got married Jan. 8, 2011. (Courtesy photo by Cynthia Ticas)

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U.S. Air Force Live

Navy Live

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By Vice Adm. Bill Moran
Chief of Naval Personnel

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval
Personnel, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call aboard USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

Next week we will announce the names of about 20,000 Sailors selected for advancement to E-4 to E6. Sailors and COs routinely ask about the notification process –answers to two of the most frequent are below:

Q: Why not provide command triads the chance to notify those who did and didn’t advance, before publicly releasing the results?

A: In response to feedback from the fleet, we are going to make a change to the notification process. Many COs, XOs and CMCs tell us that by simply releasing the results on the web and via social media, they lose a valuable opportunity to counsel and mentor their Sailors–before they get the news from their Shipmates. An advance heads-up, that doesn’t slow down the notification process, allows time to reach out to congratulate and counsel as necessary.

Q: When can we expect to see the advancement results?

A: Typically, Navy tradition is to release E4-E6 advancement results prior to Memorial Day and Thanksgiving; however, the timing does not always work out.  We do try to meet these timelines and releasing the results via Navy social media helps expedite the process.

Given fleet feedback and consistent with efforts to continue to reinforce the roll and authority of command triads, the goal for advancement results release for this cycle will look like this:

-Monday, May 19 – Quotas released publicly

-Thursday, May 22 (morning Eastern Time) – Command triad notified via BOL of their command’s results.

-Friday, May 23 (morning Eastern Time) – Individual Sailor advancement notification on BOL, Navy Enlisted Advancement System (NEAS) and NKO.

-Friday, May 23 (approximately 1000 Eastern Time) – Public release via Navy social media, web and news sites.

Feedback will be important–let us know if this improves the process and how we can continue to meet the collective needs of our leadership and our Sailors.

Q: The designation, conversion, and advancement opportunities for Professional Apprenticeship Career Track (PACT) Sailors are lower than in the past–why is this and what advice can you offer?

A: First off, PACT Sailors are absolutely necessary to accomplishing the apprentice-level work required in the Fleet. Over the last two years we brought in a large number of these Sailors to help improve at-sea manning levels to reduce gaps at sea.

Engineman 3rd Class Malcolm Price, center, assigned to the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1), is pinned by his mentors Gunner's Mate 1st Class Michael Davis, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Miguel Cantu during a frocking ceremony.

Engineman 3rd Class Malcolm Price, center, assigned to USS Freedom (LCS 1), is pinned by his mentors Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Michael Davis, left, and Engineman 2nd Class Miguel Cantu during a frocking ceremony.

As a result of these manning shortfalls, we were able to designate PACT Sailors in an expedited time frame, well below the 24-months onboard guarantee. We now recognize that this may have created an unrealistic and unsustainable expectation.

In our efforts to stabilize communities and ratings, and to avoid unpredictable and unwelcomed advancement rate swings (the ones we all recognize as unproductive–100% for several cycles and then single digits for years to follow), we have reduced the immediate reliance on our PACT inventory to quickly fill rated apprentice-level gaps.

Feedback is clear, this progress may be viewed as double-edged. Many view “stability” as helpful and needed, but to those who signed up with the understanding and expectation that they would quickly and easily convert, this “stability” has slowed down what appeared to be an expedited conversion timeline.

PACT Sailors should still anticipate being on track for designation by 24 months at their initial duty station (and probably not much earlier) but should be encouraged to start the conversation process as soon as possible.

Continued command and unit level leadership mentoring will help set expectations and prepare Sailors to achieve transition goals–encouraging Sailors to utilize Command Career Counselors, Career Development Boards and the Career Exploration Module within the Career Waypoints system, https://careerwaypoints.sscno.nmci.navy.mil.

Additionally, PACT Sailors should be familiar with the Job Opportunities In the Navy (JOIN) interest battery, https://join.sscno.nmci.navy.mil, to aid in job identification and subsequent designation into communities that best fit with their abilities and interests.

These resources along with continued mentoring and guidance from the chain of command will help to ensure our Sailors are aware of their options and the steps required to optimize their opportunities (e.g. retake the Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT) to improve their scores and/or earn a driver’s license). In most cases, transition success is influenced at the unit level–by the leaders who know these Sailors best.

Fleet Beldo and I leave this weekend to meet with Sailors and their families in Japan and Hawaii–in fact we will be there during the advancement notifications. Please keep the feedback and suggestions coming on these and other issues of interest.

See you around the Fleet.
CNP

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Navy Live