Like Father Like Son - The Navy Way
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Malik Lewis
August 30, 2021
“I was working towards a bachelors in English, and I was working at a fast food restaurant,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Meabrod, a religious program specialist with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “I didn’t really know where I wanted to go in life.”
Meabrod grew up in Columbus, Georgia. He was a typical college student trying to find who he was and what he wanted to be in life. He wasn’t completely set on his career, but because he had a passion for working with others, he knew it would encompass just that.
“My dad was an information systems technician, petty officer 1st class in the Navy,” said Meabrod. “I grew up learning about my father, mostly from stories I was told, like how he was a man of honor and integrity. Also, how he loved the Navy and what it stood for.”
Influenced by his veteran father, Meabrod finally made the decision to join and begin the journey to become an RP. Meabrod’s father had always been an important and strong figure in his life, so it was almost natural for him to follow in his footsteps.
“As I was developing myself, he became somewhat of a superhero,” said Meabrod. “He was off in foreign countries like Somalia, Kuwait, and Bahrain defending freedom and democracy around the world. That makes me proud to stand in his shoes and be like him.”
As an RP, Meabrod’s primary role focuses on religious ministry program management as well as other non-extracurricular programs. He ensures that services begin on time and are executed accordingly. Meabrod explains that he also makes it a point to go and talk to Marines and Sailors. He ‘listens to the deck plates’ which is a term used in the RP community meaning to check on service member’s well-being. In essence, an RP can also be described as the bridge between an enlisted Marine or Sailor and the Chaplain.
As the years went on, Meabrod evolved into a seasoned RP which has drastically influenced his life. He strengthened his interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence by becoming more socially aware of people’s verbal and non-verbal ques.
“The smaller details of people’s facial expressions, the way they talk, being aware of those things is something that changed me for the better,” he said. “It has made me a better husband, brother and son by making me more empathic about what their needs are. It helps me to be the best possible person that I can become.”
Challenges have also been present in Meabrod’s journey, nevertheless, it has helped turn him into the RP that he is today.
“In Operational Stress Control and Readiness sometimes there is a stigma, as a Marine or Sailor, about seeking help when you’re stressed,” said Meabrod. “Sometime they will deny it, deny it, deny it until the last straw breaks the camel’s back. That is probably the most challenging part when interacting with them and trying to get them help."
Cpl. Alex Gainer, a legal chief with the 31st MEU, explains that Meabrod has a lot of drive in him to help people in-and-out of his career as a RP specialist.
“He’s constantly trying to insert himself within the unit with things like UMAPIT, being an OSCAR trainer and doing the Savage Soul Newsletter to remind Marines and Sailors to focus on spiritual fitness,” said Gainer. “He really tries to ensure that he becomes a mainstay within the unit. That way, each section knows who he is and a little about what he does, and he can help them.”
Meabrod emphasizes that every challenge and opportunity that has arose while working with the 31st MEU has better equipped him to handle the stressors of life and developed him as better RP.
He continues that work with the United Through Reading Program, which has been one of the biggest accomplishments in his career. The program involves recording a service member reading a children’s book, and then the video is sent to their kids and loved ones. The reading program was historically used for service members in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. Although it was meant to connect families, it typically took months to reach the destination.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Meabrod, a religious program specialist with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), administers a class aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) in the Coral Sea, July 22, 2021. The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of America Expeditionary Strike Group in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Malik Lewis)
“I was instrumental in making a program that took months into a matter of a week,” said Meabroad. “I’ve done almost 60 videos between the last four floats which helps connect service members to their families.”
Gainer explains that Meabrod’s work ethic and contributions hardly goes unnoticed within the 31st MEU. Additionally, that he is an exceptional RP and Sailor who is very diligent and knowledgeable in his field as a program specialist.
“Having that impact on family readiness and supporting the commander’s intent on being emotionally and spiritually ready, is one of my proudest accomplishments,” said Meabrod. “I joined the Navy as an RP so I could help, aid and assist others, much like my father did. At the 31st MEU, I put these things into practice every day and therefore, am reminded that I am precisely where I belong and precisely where I’m needed.”
Meabrod is currently serving with the 31st MEU aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
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