NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla., April 15, 2014 —
The senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with sailors here yesterday to learn about the base’s strategic home-porting and recapitalization plans and advise the sailors about transition assistance resources.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia completed the first of a two-day command tour at the third-largest fleet concentration in the United States, with its 3,400 acres along the Atlantic Ocean and St. Johns River and 6,400 active duty sailors.
“We’ve been able to see some of the ships, capabilities and potential growth of NS Mayport, where the littoral combat ships will be, and we’ve been able to look at the recapitalization of real estate,” Battaglia said. “It’s nice to see growth on a military installation when most of our conversations are about [base realignment and closure].”
The arrival of the littoral combat ships USS Freedom and USS Independence and their accompanying training and support facilities are programmed into a cumulative $70 million budget through fiscal year 2017.
Mayport’s Amphibious Readiness Group welcomed the arrival of USS New York in December, and officials expect the USS Fort McHenry and USS Iwo Jima in August, Battaglia said.
The sergeant major also conducted an interactive all-hands call to field questions and address concerns about quality-of-life improvements, benefits, entitlements and deployments.
He told the sailors that the DOD offers a free downloadable book called “The Non-Commissioned Officer and Petty Officer -- Backbone of the Armed Forces” designed to help junior enlisted service members define their roles within the profession of arms.
“Every so often, we come together as a joint force,” Battaglia said. “There are times when you belong to a larger task force [or] a combat command in an operational theater, so the more you know about what your peer group, subordinates and superiors do, the more helpful it is to your charter.”
He also emphasized the importance of resilience, which he described as the ability to build fitness and strength in psychological, behavioral, physical, nutritional domains to return the mind, body and spirit to an optimal level of performance after facing adversity.
“Fitness is much more than just push-ups and running,” Battaglia said to the sailors. “It’s a total sense of well-being and the ability to take care of ourselves and each other.”
The Fleet and Family Support Center here continues to provide life-enhancing programs such as “Transition Goals, Plans, Success” for more than 17,000 total force personnel and their families, Battaglia said. “I’d like to see people planning early -- getting into Transition GPS at least 12 months out and no later than 90 days before their dates of separation,” he said.
On average, more than 250,000 services members transition annually through medical discharge, retirement and normal attrition of the force, the sergeant major noted.
“It’s a pretty significant footprint, … and I’m very impressed with what Mayport is doing to support Transition GPS,” Battaglia said. “With so many total force service members looking at separation or retirement within five years, the information the FFSC provides is invaluable, … so we have redesigned the entire program for all branches of service.”
The program, he explained, involves enhanced networking resources and exit surveys to better gauge the value of the class to departing service members.
“[Transition GPS] will prove its worth if that service member who is separating walks off base enrolled in college, hired for a job or even starting his or her own business,” the sergeant major said.
According to the Veterans Affairs Department, Florida is home to more than 1.5 million total force veterans.
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleAFPS)