“Our enlisted organizations and Junior Officer Council (JOC) are doing much goodness, strengthening our Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) One Team,” said Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Jeffrey B. Clark, WRNMMC director. “They reflect so positively on who we are, what we do, and most importantly, how we do it.”
The general recently joined members from one of those organizations, the Junior Enlisted Mess (JEM), volunteering at a local charitable agency which helps families seeking to rise out of poverty. In addition to donating items, JEM members assist the organization with furnishing the homes of those in need, and teaching life skills and professional development to clients of the local nonprofit.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (HM3) Moriah Brockway, JEM master-at-arms, explained one of the rewards of being a member of the JEM is helping others — “meeting new people while also finding fun and rewarding things to do in the area, such as volunteer and morale events.
“We strengthen the WRNMMC One Team by getting the entire junior enlisted [members] together, integrating everyone from different branches and cultures of life to work together towards a better tomorrow,” Brockway said.
Other rewards of being a member of the JEM are “networking, esprit de corps and career-building” opportunities, added HM3 Brandon Kapfhamer, JEM chief executive officer. “The JEM is available to all E-4 and below military personnel stationed at WRNMMC. However, we encourage and support family involvement in all of the community volunteer events we do,” he continued.
“The JEM’s motto is ‘leadership by example,’ and we exemplify that in all we do,” Kapfhamer added. JEM president, HM3 Amber Barak, agrees.
“By being a part of the JEM, I have not only been able to grow as a professional, but as an individual,” Barak said. “The JEM is a great opportunity for junior service members to meet one another, form a network and make an amazing difference in the morale of the command. The JEM truly covers all aspects of personal, professional and leadership growth,” she explained.
Barak led the JEM’s stuffed animal drive from Feb. 4 through March 6, collecting toys for young patients treated by WRNMMC staff during a humanitarian mission March 8 to 22 in the Dominican Republic. People donated hundreds of stuffed animals to the drive. “It’s amazing how generous everyone was with their donations; we had more than 350 stuffed animals, and we weren’t able to pack them all [for the humanitarian mission],” said the JEM president.
Those stuffed animals not packed for the Dominican Republic were donated to the local nonprofit agency JEM members have been volunteering with the last Saturday of every month for the past three years.
In addition to helping at the local nonprofit agency, JEM members regularly greet veterans at local airports coming into the area as part of honor flights. JEM members also participate in clean-up efforts on base and at local parks; host fundraisers for service balls; and sponsor morale-boosting events monthly, such as barbecues, trips to historical sites and sporting events.
The Echo 5 Mess is another enlisted group making a positive impact at Walter Reed Bethesda and exemplifying the WRNMMC One Team philosophy, explained HM2 Davin Laurell. “Our organization is open to all Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps E-5s on base,” he said.
“The purpose of our organization is to promote and grow the morale and welfare for all personnel on the base,” Laurell continued. “We aim to foster a great environment for all of the junior personnel, and offer a great network of E-5s to turn to in any situation,” he continued.
The Echo 5 Mess has weekly events, including cooking a meal for beneficiaries of a local women’s shelter, as well as volunteering on the second Saturday of each month at the same charitable agency as the JEM, which focuses on helping those in need. The third Monday of every month, members of Echo 5 volunteer at another nonprofit that provides its residents with services including food, clothing, medical care, legal and social services. And on the fourth Wednesday of each month, Echo 5 members go to WRNMMC’s the pediatrics inpatient ward for story time, reading to WRNMMC’s youngest beneficiaries.
“The Echo 5 strengthens the command by being a presence, we help with hospital events by providing manpower and fundraising,” Laurell added. “We also strive to make this the best command for every service member to be proud to be a part of,” he said.
Joint Forces 6 (JF6) shares that goal, explained HM1 Scott Kuniyuki, the organization’s president. He said JF6, an association for all E-6 members of Walter Reed Bethesda, is “doing good things” on and off base.
“We sponsor an assistance program with Rock View Elementary School, and volunteer for various events around Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB),” Kuniyuki said. A main focus of JF6 is support for the upcoming Hospital Corpsman Ball, he added.
Kuniyuki said two of the most rewarding aspects of being a part of JF6 are “giving back to the junior enlisted, and showing unit cohesion between Army, Navy and Air Force as WRNMMC One Team.”
The Bethesda Area Chief Petty Officer Association (CPOA) also promotes the WRNMMC One Team philosophy by ensuring “every service member knows we want them to succeed, and that we value their service, talent, skill and dedication,” explained Senior Chief Sharon Tavares, vice president of the CPOA.
“Our association supports acts of charity that come before us, through both financial and participatory contributions,” the senior chief continued. “We accomplish these goals through the actions of our members individually and in committee.
“We are supportive and available to area commanders, commanding officers, officers-in-charge and missions represented within our membership,” Tavares continued.
In support of WRNMMC One Team philosophy, Tavares said CPOA is available to all eligible members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been “initiated, transitioned or inducted as chief petty officers.” This includes all chief petty officers in or around the Bethesda area —active, retired or honorary.
The JOC also promotes unity among the Walter Reed Bethesda community, opening it ranks to all junior officers, O-1 through O-3, on base. Army 1st Lt. Rory Walton, outgoing JOC, describes the organization as “a command-wide, go-to source for officer professional development, mentoring and service,” which supports junior officers across the services at WRNMMC and NSAB tenant organizations.
“We have provided support for more than 3,500 officers,” Walton continued. She explained this support has included sponsoring Morale, Welfare and Recreation-type events; providing peer group and mentorship opportunities; sponsoring professional development lectures; and hosting off-site tours to historical locations.
Explaining how the JOC strengthens WRNMMC’s One Team concept, Walton said, “We all go through the same challenges and stresses as junior officers, just in different services and roles. It is wonderful to bring everyone together and share ideas, projects, and lessons learned.”
For more information about the JEM, contact HM3 Amber Barak at 301-319-8650. For more information about the Echo 5 Mess, contact HM2 Davin Laurell at Davin.n.Laurell.email@example.com. For more information about JF6, contact HM1 Scott Kuniyuki at Scott.y.Kuniyuki.firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the CPOA, contact Senior Chief Sharon Tavares at 301-400-0538. For more information about the JOC, contact 1st Lt. Regine Faucher at 301-295-5489.