A workshop at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren’s JD’s Conference and Training Center brought information and perspective to the spouses of chief petty officer (CPO) selectees Aug. 15. While selectees were busy participating in their CPO 365 training program, their spouses learned about the storied history of the rank, as well as resources available for Navy families as they enter a new phase of their lives.
Several military and military-affiliated organizations and programs were on hand to contribute to the information session, including the Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) School Liaison Officer, the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, the USO, the Exceptional Family Member Program, Command Ombudsman Program, the Fleet and Family Support Center, the Command Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO) and health and wellness counselors.
“The purpose of the information session was to prepare the spouses of these new selectees for some changes [that] will be coming,” said Elena Bonilla, a military spouse and government contractor work and family life consultant for the Fleet and Family Support Center. “It’s not just a uniform and paycheck for their spouses that will change. It is also leadership, responsibility, and the knowledge that will be expected of them. They need to understand they will be an ‘extension’ of their spouses and an ever more visible part of the Navy.”
The information session started with presentations by experienced chiefs from NSASP-based commands, who began by recognizing the selectee spouses for their own critical role in the selectees’ lives. “Thank you,” said CTTCS Jason Tillman, assigned to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD). “He could not have gotten here without you.”
Tillman told the selectee spouses about the history of the rate, starting with the first Navy use of the term “Chief” in 1776 and the official establishment of the rank in 1893. The spouses also learned about the CPO Guiding Principles-such as professionalism, competence and integrity-and the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.
“We look back on everything we’ve done in the last 121 years,” said Tillman. “We measure ourselves by the success of our Sailors.”
Other enlisted leaders expanded on importance of CPOs to the Navy and the nation, the records of which are found throughout U.S. Navy history. One example they cited was John Finn, whose heroism during the attack on Pearl Harbor inspires Sailors today.
Finn, then a CPO, woke up with his wife to the sound of Japanese bombing and strafing at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay. He drove to the station and manned a machine gun for hours. Though Finn received some 21 injuries during the fight, he continued firing at Japanese aircraft. For his leadership and courage, Finn received the Medal of Honor. The selectees will be following in the footsteps of giants like Finn.
“We’re the largest fellowship of brothers and sisters in the world,” said GMCM Jason Gurley, assigned to the Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS). “We’re the backbone of the Navy.”
Presenters continued discussing the new leadership roles the selectees, and by extension their spouses, will soon encounter over pastries and coffee. Above all, the selectee spouses were thanked for their own service in welcomed into their new CPO family.
“If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us,” said Gurley.