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While June 21 marks the summer solstice, most of us consider Memorial Day as the official start of summer. Although we have had a wet and relatively cool spring, right on cue the thermometer climbed this past weekend, and Memorial Day brought sun and heat in equal abundance. For those who forgot the sun screen, you are paying for your memory lapse as you read this article.

While all of us enjoy our time off, for some reason summer and weekends go together. The rest of the year we use the weekend to recover from our work week. In the summer, it sometimes feels that the converse is true; we use the week to recover from the weekend.

While I am all for people enjoying the summer, as with almost anything, there can be too much of a good thing. There is a difference between relaxing and being careless. Forgetting sunscreen is one example. Another is over indulging in both food and drink. Still another is forgetting to use proper safety gear when riding motorcycles or bikes.

NSA Bethesda recently hosted a safety stand down in preparation for summer, and it was well attended. Having sat through a few of these in a 30 year career, I realize that retention in these lectures depends on the time of day, the proximity to the last meal, and how much sleep the individual had the night before, or expects to get that night. Given the aforementioned, I would like to reinforce the basic message of the stand down: staying safe is common sense. It does not stop the fun, but ensures that you will continue to have it. So use sunscreen, wear your protective gear, and if you intend to drink alcohol, even if you have a designated driver, or can walk home, drink in moderation.

For those who have forgotten, this summer is also the time when WRAMC personnel will make the move to NSA Bethesda. Growing up with 11 brothers and sisters I learned there are sometimes advantages to being a guest, but it is important to understand and accept that while in the past when WRAMC came over, they were guests, this summer, they will become family. Take the time to help them learn the ropes. There are many misperceptions out there, and one of them is that we are not looking forward to them joining our team. This installation, and the hospital have a bigger mission post BRAC, and we can't meet that mission without additional personnel. We are lucky enough to have WRAMC people who understand what we do and how we do it to fill most of those positions. They will be a key to our success. Taking the time to make contact before they arrive will pay huge dividends after they arrive; and yes, there will be some passionate discussions.

Finally, everyone needs to prepare for the impact of the additional personnel on traffic and parking. While we will have new garages coming on line soon, even with those additions parking will be significantly tighter as the summer progresses. Look into our mass transit, carpool, and alternative transportation options now. It will be time well spent. Remember your commute is from the time you leave home to the time you get to your office. It is not from the time you get on base. We all know the difference in the two now, and if you drive your own car, and you're the only one in it, that difference will only increase post BRAC. Doing your homework will benefit everyone.

Commanding Officer

NSA Bethesda sends,

Captain Michael Malanoski

Medical Corps, United States Navy