Friday, February 3, 2012

Why you need to talk to your non-Navy neighbor

So here are some disturbing facts, if you happen to be in the Navy:

Although slightly dated, I doubt they have changed much.

I remember a few months back doing a community relations visit to a local public school. Being in the middle part of Georgia, people are used to seeing Army soldiers running around, but the Navy isn't exactly expected. I was walking one of the first graders down to the library when we had a little conversation:

First Grader: So, what do you do?
Me: Well, I used to work on a submarine and program missiles...
First Grader: That's really cool! I want to join the Army when I grow up. (I was in my blue Smurf camo, so I can understand the confusion)
Me: I'm actually in the Navy.
First Grader: Oh. Well, what's a Navy do?

We then actually had a fun conversation about how there are ships all throughout the world, watching bad guys and keeping them from coming to America.

Maybe some readers are thinking "Aww, isn't that cute." But I actually think if that kid remembered half of what I told him, he'd have a better idea of the importance of the Navy than many adults do. Every day, long before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Navy personnel were deploying and keeping the sea lanes safe. We can all recite countless examples of where we have personally done something to keep the world safe, but much of the American populace has no idea.

It is incumbent on us to let people know what we do. Every time I travel in the continental United States, I wear my dress blue uniform. Besides looking sharp and being comfortable (I had a tailor make mine out in Bahrain), it always sparks conversation, and gives me the opportunity to sell my service. I focus less on me and more on big-Navy stuff, and I find in general people are shocked at what we as a Navy continue to do day in and day out.

Although we may think it's cheesy, perhaps we ought to read the Day in the Navy page on occasion and spit out some of those bullets. What isn't impressive to us will surprise most people.

Sell your service, especially when you aren't near fleet concentration areas. Wear your uniform where it is appropriate, and have a positive message ready for the people you meet. People need to hear about what you do, because if you don't sell your service, who will?