Community Is Key to Keeping Uniformed Personnel

February 12, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

Discussing what it may take to keep people in uniform are (l-r) FORMC Eric W. Page, USN; Lt. Elizabeth Griffiths, USN; MSTC David Getchell, USCG; Capt. Scott Cuomo, USMC; and panel moderator MCOPCG Vince Patton III, USCG (Ret.).

Most service personnel are motivated by a sense of duty to their country, but their services must continue to focus on quality of life-personal as well as professional. These points were driven home in a panel focusing on what it takes to keep people in uniform.

Panel moderator MCOPCG Vince Patton III, USCG (Ret.), noted that the ongoing panel theme seemed to be a focus on family, training and mentoring. If people believe their family needs are being met, and they can benefit from good leadership and professional growth as part of a good team, they are more likely to remain in the service.

Cutting to the chase was Capt. Scott Cuomo, USMC, a scholar at the Expeditionary Warfare School and a former instructor at the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course. Marines "want to win" the Global War on Terrorism, he declared, and that is why they re-enlist in a wartime environment. Citing this commitment to winning, the captain added that Marines also want a similar commitment from government and industry. If there is a challenge out there, he stated, keep sending the Marines into the fight.

This patriotism does not always counter logistical problems, however. U.S. Coast Guard personnel could use some geographical stability, suggested MSTC David Getchell, USCG, chief marine science technician, Coast Guard Sector San Diego. Having longer tours will be better on the family, he said.

Technology will help solve some challenges, said FORMC Eric W. Page, USN, force master chief, commander, Naval Surface Forces. Good technology will help relieve duty pressures and reduce the number of crew required on each ship, he noted.

One panel participant offered insight on why some personnel leave the service. Lt. Elizabeth Griffiths, USN, protocol officer for the secretary of the Navy, expressed regret that this panel represented her last day in uniform. She opted to leave the service because she is the mother of a young boy, and she did not think that she could be the kind of mother she wanted to be if she stayed in the Navy. Her husband also is a Navy officer, and she related how the choice between concurrent deployments-when both would be away from their son for months, and opposite deployments-when neither would be deployed at the same time but they would never see one another-offered no desirable option. She related how she received excellent support during her pregnancy and her maternity leave, but she still faced a challenge as a young parent in a two-military-career family.

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