Monday, May 28, 2012

The Navy in the Schools

For those of you who don't know, May is Military Appreciation Month. As such, we here at Big Dave and Company have decided that we are going to write a post for each of the service branches showing how they do so much more than fight for our country. Since they are all equally important, we are just going to go alphabetically. Today we look at the Navy.

    The Navy Community Service Program has five flagship areas that they focus their community service and volunteer efforts towards.  One of those is called Campaign Drug Free.  Recently, members of the Navy Readiness Command (REDCOM) Northwest spent some time at Marysville Middle School in Washington State as part of the program.  The Sailors spoke with 541 seventh graders throughout the day about things like drug awareness, making smart decisions, and the importance of having positive goals.  While this happens all around the country all the time, let's take a little more in-depth look at the experience at Marysville.
     Yeoman 2nd Class Juan Piper, who is the Campaign Drug Free co-ordinater for REDCOM Northwest, stressed the importance of sailors using their influence and status for the cause of the program.  "Kids are the future of this country.  They need to be empowered and educated.  They need tools to use in case they are approached by someone who offers them drugs."  Marysville Middle School intervention specialist Rhonda Moen agreed about the effect that sailors can have on young minds.  "Just having the Sailors come to the school in uniform is an act of intervention.  The kids respect people in uniforms and will listen to what they have to say."  This is part of the critical importance Campaign Drug Free.
     While all the Sailors at Marysville gave the same general message, there were certain Sailors who addressed more specific issues within the community.  Since methamphetamine use is heavy in the Marysville area, Yeoman 1st Class Celia Mendez spoke about their use and its consequences. "I learned about [methamphetamines] so I could help the children in the community.  They are facing things I never had to face at their age."  Piper went on to note that "even though we can't fix everything in one day, we can show them that there are outlets to help."
      And the program seems to be working, if measured by the reactions of the teachers and staff at Marysville.  "the teams were informed, interesting, and used good teaching styles that engaged the students," observed Bill Write, a health and drama teacher at the school.  Moen added that "I've heard nothing but good things from the students and teachers.  I certainly hope the Sailors will come again."  While it is almost impossibly to quantify the effect that Campaign Drug Free is having on the students it has visited, the presence of men and women in uniform giving the anti-drug message certainly cannot hurt.
    Campaign Drug Free is just one arm of a comprehensive Navy program to get Sailors out making our communities better places.  In addition to the war on drugs, Naval personnel are out tutoring, mentoring and promoting citizenship among youth as part of the Personal Excellence Partnership Program, serving needy families as part of Project Good Neighbor, promoting the health of today's youth in the Health, Safety, and Fitness Flagship, and doing their best to improve the environment as part of their Environmental Stewardship program.  All fine examples of our servicemen and women doing their part to make our world a better place.

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