Reinforcing Sailor Warrior Toughness and Resiliency
by U.S. Navy MCS Seaman Neo B. Greene III
December 24, 2020
Navy Chaplains Cmdr. John Ismach-Eastman and Lt. James Lanford are reinforcing warrior toughness and resiliency for new-accession Sailors attached to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station through a new initiative hosted by the Corry Station Chapel onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station.
Junior Sailors sometimes need guidance and resources that help them make good decisions and keep out of trouble, more now due to limitations in recreation and in-person interactions due to COVID-19.
So, for this inaugural event, Reinforcing Warrior Toughness, the chaplains and IWTC Corry Station leaders focused on listening to Sailors about their decisions and opened discussions on how to use their resources to avoid potentially career-impacting consequences.
December 17, 2020 - Navy Chaplain Lt. James Lanford reinforces warrior toughness and resiliency for new-accession Sailors attached to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station through a new initiative hosted by the Corry Station Chapel onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Neo B. Greene III)
“The goal of this is to take feedback from these new-accession Sailors and gain first-hand knowledge from this, both for the students and for leadership,” said Eastman. “If a leader hears about this and gains some knowledge, or implements this and learns from their Sailors, then it’s a success and the same goes for if a student learns how to make better decisions through these talks.”
During the event, the Sailors brought up reasons why students make harmful decisions. One of the topics brought up was a lack of representation of consequences. Seeing the outcome of what can happen when a poor decision is made may help them avoid making those same decisions.
“If restricted Sailors are able to go and talk to the newer guys, it would be a lot more effective to us,” said Seaman Lauren Fitzpatrick, a student assigned to IWTC Corry Station. “The leadership can talk to Sailors and warn them about what can happen, but when someone walks in and explains to them what the process is, give them a play-by-play of how it is being on restriction, then it would do a lot better to help us think ‘I really don’t want to end up in that position.’”
The students also said that for some Sailors, they feel distanced or uncomfortable talking to their chain of command, which results in not having their senior counterparts not being able to help them stay away from those decisions. The distanced feeling causes some Sailors to believe that their chain of command is apathetic to them unless they are in trouble.
“There are students who are beyond passionate about their job, that study endlessly and work every day to make sure they are going to do well,” said Seaman Brevin Macinnes, another student currently assigned to IWTC Corry Station. “Sometimes they make a mistake, and there are consequences to that. If the Sailor isn’t separated, but they feel like their chain of command doesn’t care about them, other than the fact that they caused some form of trouble, then it makes it hard to stay passionate. We need that connection with leadership so we know that they see us as more than just numbers.”
The last thing the students talked about during the event was outside factors affecting their feelings of being actual Sailors.
“With all of the COVID restrictions, it’s easier for Sailors to make impulsive decisions due to stress,” said Seaman Kaleb Prater, another IWTC Corry Station student.
“We all have outside factors affecting us as a new generation of Sailors,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Emma Chatman. “It’s hard to feel like a Sailor when we’ve had restrictions that barely make us feel like we’re really in the military. With COVID-19, the bases are basically locked down. The things we can do both at work and out of work are limited, even at boot camp, you don’t feel like you’re a Sailor sometimes even while you’re in uniform. I think creating an atmosphere where we feel more united and you can see other Sailors being Sailors is vital to having Sailors with positive attitudes.”
At the conclusion of the event, the chaplains and students discussed these suggestions to possibly implement some at IWTC Corry Station. They hope that through these talks, continual change can be made to increase the quality of decisions and camaraderie between both students and leaders.
“The new age of Sailors is a completely different generation of Sailors and of people,” said Eastman. “Their struggles and mindsets may vary from the leaders who have been in the service. That being said, is there anything we can do to understand them? This can help us know what the students need and help prevent Sailors making poor decisions, as well as feel comfortable enough to identify an issue before it leads to something like non-judicial punishment. We hope to incorporate this into becoming a regular event. Sometimes it helps the new-accession students to get things off of their chest and that helps to reduce the risk of Sailors making poor decisions or to find out if a Sailor needs help. This can be a productive, more informal, way to bring those things out.”
IWTC Corry Station is a part of CIWT. With four schoolhouse commands, a detachment, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains over 22,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.
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