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    Gridiron Guidance: Counselor Brings Football Experience to Fleet and Family

    Gridiron Guidance: Counselor Brings Football Experience to Fleet and Family

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Brigitte Johnston | GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Oct. 16, 2020) Bob Riley, from Pittsburgh, a counselor with Great...... read more read more

    GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Oct. 21, 2020) Sailors have a variety of options when seeking counseling. Great Lakes’ own Fleet and Family Support Center staff of counselors offers a variety of services to Sailors and their families. One of their counselor’s career has gone from tackles and touchdowns to helping people navigate life’s difficulties.
    “I played college football at Indiana University and it was a lifetime goal of mine to get a chance to play for the NFL,” said Bob Riley, a clinical counselor for FFSC. “I started for three years as offensive tackle and was lucky enough to be drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the tenth round of the 1987 NFL draft.”
    Between 1987 and 1989, Riley, a Pittsburgh native, played for the Cincinnati Bengals, San Francisco 49rs, and Atlanta Falcons after his time with the Vikings. After taking his leave from football, he opened a pizza restaurant with his brother before deciding to go to for a graduate degree.
    Riley shifted career paths in 1991 when he decided to get his master’s degree in counseling. In 2013, he joined the Fleet and Family team in Mayport, Florida, when he was contracted as a clinical counselor. In 2016 he became the deployed resiliency counselor for the amphibious assault ship, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), and stayed with them through 2018.
    “For my first three years, I was on the family side of deployment and then I was on the Sailor and Marine side of deployment,” said Riley. “I actually got to be part of deployment and I got to be part of ship’s company. It was an honorary position and I got to see the inner workings of the Navy. I look at the Navy as millions of men and women and hours of cooperation. I think it’s one of the best jobs programs in the country to teach responsibility and help people on their path forward.”
    Riley came to Great Lakes’ FFSC in March 2020 as a counselor. He works in individual, family, and marital counseling as well as supporting the domestic violence and suicide prevention programs.
    “Mr. Riley and all of our clinical counselors at the FFSC are extremely skilled in providing support and strategies for overcoming difficult challenges in our lives,” said Kerri George, FFSC director. “[He] has a wealth of experience in working with military members and their families, he knows how to connect with people, meet them where they are at and make a plan of action.”
    Riley never forgets his time in the NFL. The skills he learned there have carried over to his current job, taking life lessons and translating them to the Sailors he counsels.
    “Football is like the military,” said Riley. “We have organization, we have structure, and we have layers. The Commander in Chief is the head coach and his captain is like the captain of the football team. Some of the bootcamp, physical training things we do as well. I guess it just really builds your self-esteem and your character. One thing about football is one person can’t be a team. You have a lot of people on your side that you have to coordinate with so you can make something work. And when that works, it’s magic. And when that doesn’t work, you lose.”
    To learn more about Fleet and Family Support Center and the services they offer, go to
    For more news from Naval Station Great Lakes, visit or



    Date Taken: 10.20.2020
    Date Posted: 10.21.2020 10:52
    Story ID: 381394
    Location: GREAT LAKES, IL, US 
    Hometown: PITTSBURGH, PA, US

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