During his visit on Feb. 22 to Walter Reed Bethesda, the 13th MCPON toured the state-of-the-art Military Advanced Training Center (MATC), where injured service members rehabilitate using the latest in cutting-edge equipment and technology, as well as Tranquility Hall, the outpatient resident for wounded warriors and their families specifically tailored to meet their special needs.
The MCPON spoke with wounded warriors and their family members while touring the MATC and Tranquility Hall, and he made bedside visits to services members who are inpatients in the medical center.
Stevens concluded his visit by hosting an all-hands call to a standing-room only crowd in the Memorial Auditorium on base, where he discussed a number of issues and answered questions from the audience ranging from sequestration to what he sees as the future for the military.
“Everybody who works here does a magnificent job,” Stevens said to the Walter Reed Bethesda community. “As I go around the fleet and run into folks who have had the experience of being here before as wounded warriors, I hear nothing but good things. They always say [they received] first-class treatment, whether it [was] on the medical side or the support side. They always say the people here are the best in the world, and they are professionals beyond professionals.”
He said his visit to WRNMMC, and discussions with beneficiaries and staff, will enable him to take their concerns back with him to be addressed with the military senior leaders, whom he works with daily, as well as members of the U.S. Congress when he testifies before them.
As the MCPON, Stevens explained he’s focused on “zeroing in on excellence” in three areas: developing leaders; good order and discipline; and controlling what we own.
“No organization can be successful without successful leadership,” Stevens continued. He said developing successful leaders encompasses providing excellent leadership training across all branches of the service, and is critical in order for the U.S. military to remain the dominant world force it is.
“Good order and discipline is about first and foremost, being the standard,” Stevens said. “If you want those under your charge to do that which is right, that which is good and decent, then you yourself must be that person. I call that, ‘leadership spillover.’”
The Navy senior enlisted leader explained controlling what you own means “putting on your uniform; going to your assigned place of duty; doing the tasks you are asked to do; carrying out the orders you are asked to carry out; maintaining yourself physically, mentally, morally and spiritually; taking care of your family; and maintaining good order and discipline.
“If we do those things, we are going to be in a far better place,” he continued. “But if we allow our imaginations to run too wild, it takes away from those things we need to be focused on and the things we control.”
In responding to a question about the future of the military, Stevens said, “I think we’re on a trajectory we’ll probably sustain for a long time, and that is we have steadily become more joint. That’s the continuum we’re on, and I think it will be driven by the necessity to be the most effective war-fighting organization we can possibly be, and being joint, I’m sure, has a role in that.”
He encouraged people to be flexible “in this extremely busy time to serve,” and explained the current budget situation won’t affect military member’s pay and entitlements (retirement, medical coverage, tuition assistance, and family programs) which are “fenced off.”
“We’re extraordinarily dedicated to ensuring that those things supporting families are protected. Anything outside of pay and entitlements is to some degree vulnerable. As far as pay raises and those sorts of things, we’ll have to wait and see,” Stevens said.
The MCPON added when he began his Navy career more than 30 years ago, he didn’t necessarily set out to become its top enlisted Sailor, he explained in responding to another question. “Sometimes, it’s just about the right time, right place and right opportunities, but there are keys to success. No one makes you successful; people provide opportunities, and you have to use those keys to unlock those opportunities. I try to live by three things: work hard every single day; stay out of trouble; and be a good and decent person.
“It’s the honor of my lifetime to be able to do what I’m doing ... to stand before you, to have a conversation with you, to provide leadership and make decisions, advice and recommendations on those things I believe will support you and your families today and into the future,” the MCPON concluded. “Continue to do what you do. Continue to serve.”
Army Spc. Edward Tjaden said the all-hands call provided him with a lot of good information. “I appreciate [the MPCON] coming out and talking to not only the Navy people, but also the Army people. We’re a joint service now, and it’s good to hear from a senior leader of us all.”
For more information about the MCPON, visit http://www.navy.mil/mcpon/index.asp.