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    Stay at Home, Stay Safe, Stay Productive - How Sailors Adapt During a Pandemic



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cole Pielop 

    Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

    The U.S. Navy has ships and submarines patrolling waters across the world 365 days a year deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas, always prepared to combat threats. The Navy’s newest enemy is one that can’t be seen by the naked eye, COVID-19. Due to social distancing guidelines and an effort to minimize contact, Sailors around the world are seeing adjusted work schedules, and in some cases even teleworking.

    Many Sailors have found themselves with more time, creating the need to stay busy and keep improving. This has given them the perfect opportunity to refine their job skills, pursue old hobbies and spend some time with family.

    “As a Religious Program Specialist, our work has changed pretty dramatically, but we have adapted well,” said Chief Religious Program Specialist Mark Chilson, Assigned to 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan. “On a normal day, Chaps and I would be able to visit workspaces and engage with Sailors and Marines face to face to check the pulse of the unit. With these social distancing measures in place, we are not able to get that contact.”

    Typically religious services held on base are in their own respective locations, but with the new guidelines, Sailors have had to adapt. Chaplains have now moved their religious services to posting Facebook live videos for sermons and bible studies.

    “It has been interesting to see the audience grow through the use of social media,” said Chilson. “I think that it is something the Chaplain Corps will adopt and utilize even after restrictions are relaxed, in addition to their normal services.”

    For Sailors and Marines preparing to leave for deployment or coming home, they are required to complete a 14-day restriction of movement process (ROM). This process is to ensure the disease is not spreading and causing a large outbreak at a command. During this time Sailors live in a room alone, where their meals are brought to them. Going long periods of time without social interaction is not easy for everyone.

    “We are calling service members who are in the 14-day ROM, as well as those in quarantine and unable to leave their house to ensure they are mentally and spiritually fit,” said Chilson. “We have also published our personal phone numbers widely so that Sailors and Marines know that they can reach out to someone day or night.”

    In addition to workplace adaptation, some Sailors have had to find new ways to promote personal growth. The Navy offers to cover costs for programs for Sailors all year long, such as tuition assistance, certifications and apprenticeships. During this time of social isolation, many businesses are offering free or reduced cost online tutorials and lessons as well.

    “To keep busy, I have been working on self-development, but in a way that I know also benefits the Navy and the public by proxy,” said Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan Nall, assigned to Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, in San Diego. “While I’m at home I’ve taken advantage of several online courses that teach industry software programs that are integral to creating quality communication products. It’s not enough to just do the bare minimum; I’m learning to improve my skill set so my audience is getting better products and getting them quicker.”

    While this may be a great time to brush up on skills and even learn something new, it can also be used as a time to maintain contact with loved ones or those who may be struggling. Safely checking in on neighbors to see if they are doing okay and have everything they need is one simple way to look out for others. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, talking through a door or window can help create the reassurance that many need.

    “You don’t have to make yourself a project,” said Nall. “It’s okay to acknowledge that these are difficult and uncertain times. I’m finding ways to balance learning new things while maintaining old friendships and relationships. With all of this going on, we aren’t even sure when we will be able to see our loved ones next.”

    Exercise is a great way to stay not only physically healthy, but mentally too. There are many ways to stay fit while abiding by the social distancing policy. Lt. Brendan Kahle, assigned to Naval Supply Systems Command Hawaii, is using this time and his duty station location to the best of his ability.

    “Sometimes it can be hard to start working out on your own,” said Kahle. “It is much easier to stay motivated enough when you have a partner. Luckily for me it happens to be my wife. We have always ran together but now we picked up biking too. Now that the beaches are open, we like to go for a walk to relax after a tough day or workout. It’s really made us start appreciating Hawaii more than we have in the past.”

    According to a media statement put out by the Red Cross, they expect to see a large decline in the amount of blood donors during this time. Any healthy adult that shows no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 is encouraged to register online for an appointment. Red Cross members are taking all precautions to prevent the further spread of the disease.

    “There are less volunteers for various reasons, but the need for blood has stayed the same,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Brittany Scott, a two-year Red Cross volunteer assigned to Joint Staff Service Provider in Washington D.C. “The Red Cross depends on volunteer services. With less volunteers it is making an impact on how we are able to run. Donating blood is vital, especially right now. Being able to volunteer during this time really makes me feel like I’m making a difference.”

    Even with uncertainty in how long social distancing will last, Sailors are pressing forward and making an impact. For many junior Sailors this may be the first time they’ve been unable to see their family and it could be taking a toll. This is a time for leadership of all levels to be sure to check in on their Sailors and families and give support however possible.

    For anyone that is looking to help make a difference during this time there are many options: donating blood, making protective masks, cooking for those still working on the front line, as well as many online volunteering options.

    Despite all the adversity we are facing, not only as Sailors, but as human beings, we are all in this together.



    Date Taken: 05.18.2020
    Date Posted: 05.18.2020 23:42
    Story ID: 370269

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