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ARLINGTON, Va. -- Senior military leaders came together to discuss the state of the Surface Force and to highlight some key topics that affect Sailors and their families during an enlisted roundtable at the 35th Annual Surface Navy Association Symposium in Arlington, Va., Jan.10, 2023.
Among the main take-away points discussed at the panel were issues surrounding access to mental healthcare, and current concerns about Sailor pay, along with housing allowance as it relates to inflation.
To address the question of accessibility to mental healthcare, Force Master Chief Greg Carlson, Force Master Chief, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet said there has been significant investment in the Navy’s mental healthcare portfolio and there is a constant progression in the improvement of resources.
Included among these resources is the presence of military family life counselors, psychologists, and behavioral health technicians aboard every ship in the Navy, said Carlson. Additionally, the goal by 2025 is to include a member of the chaplain corps on every Navy ship that is a destroyer or larger.
The panel then shifted focus to issues surrounding Sailor pay and the reorganization of Navy payroll and entitlement timeliness.
Fleet Master Chief Del Terrell, Fleet Master Chief, MyNavyHR, spoke to some of these issues acknowledging that, although the Fleet is not currently where it needs to be in regards to pay concerns, it is moving in the right direction and learning from past mistakes.
“The reorganization is going very well with our Transaction Service Centers and our Remote Transaction Service Centers to make sure that we take care of our Sailors in the Fleet and when we come up to full operational capability it’s a 24 hour operation to take care of Sailors and their families and get them paid on time,” said Terrell. “We are moving at speed to take care of this and in the future it will look better.”
The panel also addressed the issue of inflation creating a strain for many Sailors and their families due to housing costs and discussed ways to mitigate this issue through the participation in surveys.
Participation in yearly surveys is critical when it comes to increasing housing allowance in areas where rent is increasing, said Terrell. The collection of that data is what gives Congress the justification it needs to make these changes.
The panelists wrapped up by reflecting on what advice they would give to their younger selves graduating from basic training.
“One of the things you fail to realize when you first come into the Navy is the relationships that you’re going to make on your journey,” said Fleet Master Chief John Perryman, Fleet Master Chief, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “The relationships you make doing our business are almost unheard of and irreplicable outside of military service. Everybody you meet in the military has something to offer you. Cherish every relationship you have in the Navy and treat everybody with dignity and respect and it will come back to you tenfold.”
For more news from Naval Surface Forces, visit https://www.surfpac.navy.mil/.