The 2012 Sailors of the Year took time May 14 to discuss how the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative is designed to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, maintain the resiliency of the force, and to hone the most combat effective force.
Vital pieces of that force are the four outstanding Sailors of the Year who came from around the fleet to Washington, D.C., to be meritoriously promoted to chief petty officers.
“The 21st Century Sailor [initiative] is several [new and] existing programs rolled into one package that surrounds health,” said Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year (SOY) Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SCW/FMF) Doug Newman of Navy Reserve Naval Security Forces, Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. “Health of our organization; the health of the Sailor — whether it be their safety, their physical fitness, ensuring that they know when they’re going on deployment that their family is taken care of, or if they have to leave active service, they know there is a continuum option.”
The initiative, announced by the Secretary of the Navy earlier this year, focuses on five tenants: readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion and continuum of service. The goal is to provide Sailors, Marines and families with the tools needed to face the challenges of the 21st century and to help members maintain and improve their skills.
“It’s important that we train our Sailors to be successful their whole career, and an important part of that is mentorship,” said Pacific Fleet SOY Seabee Steelworker 1st Class Louis Salazar, U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 40. “We have to have a strong foundation of mentorship for our people to excel.”
Mentorship is designed to enable Sailors to make educated decisions, said Chief of Naval Operations Shore SOY Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Maria Johnson of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131. “Mentoring Sailors keeps the Navy strong because you’re passing on experiences, you’re passing on leadership,” Johnson said.
To assist Sailors and Marines with understanding the dozens of programs and objectives included in the campaign, a new Web site, 21stcentury.navy.mil, was launched in April. It covers topics such as zero tolerance drug-use and sexual assault and suicide prevention, as well as family and personal preparedness.
“The Navy is being proactive and offering [educational resources] to families because without them we couldn’t be Sailors,” said U.S. Fleet Forces Command Sea SOY Ship’s Servicemen 1st Class (SW/AW) Angela A. Zamora, USS Wasp (LHD 1). “Sailors cannot just deploy… their families need to be educated as well, so that when we’re coming back from six, seven, eight months out of the country, it’s an easy transition.”
The Sailors of the Year and their families will spend the next few days visiting historical sites around D.C. and attending special events held in their honor before their advancement ceremony Thursday at the Navy Memorial.
The Sailor of the Year program was established in 1972 by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy John Whittet to recognize an individual who best represented the ever-growing group of dedicated Sailors at each command and ultimately the Navy. When the program began, only the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors were recognized. Within ten years, the Sailor of the Year program was expanded to include the shore establishment and Navy Reserve Sailors.
Naval Today Staff , May 15, 2012; Image: US Navy