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Telling the Navy League Story: Frank Russo
Friday, January 03, 2020

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services. This interview took place in late 2018.

Name: Frank Russo
Navy League Council: New York Council
Council Location: New York
Years a Member: 14 years

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

I'm retired Navy, spent nine years active duty, 17 in Reserve.

How did you first learn about the Navy League and end up joining?

Like a lot of us, you'd make port visits. In this particular case, it was down to Port Everglades [Florida]. The Navy League council met us, hosted a little reception for us and you got to meet the members, and that's how you learned about them. Then when I left active duty [I] became interested, you know. How can I start giving back? I was in the Reserves, which can join [the Navy League] and several of my shipmates and Reserve units were members. I'm affiliated down into the Houston, Texas, Council and then over to New Orleans and now up here in New York.

I became active in New York Council about three years ago. After about a year after I moved up to Connecticut, I looked at various councils, and New York's very, very active, a lot of things going on. It's a short train ride in from Stanford, and that's how I became and now I'm the council treasurer and sit on the board of directors.

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

We recently hosted USS New York upon a return visit to the city, and it was great meeting the Sailors on the ship. They were good enough to give us a tour and just meeting, not just the CO [commanding officer], the XO [executive officer], the command master chief, but also other officers in the wardroom, other enlisted Sailors and their enthusiasm for what they're doing and our ability to be able to support their mission. In particular, we helped their families with their halfway through deployment party, their return party and we're looking forward to helping them again next year.

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

In a lot of ways. One, being involved in the New York Council gives you an opportunity to really interact with Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen. It reminds you of what you went through, so it brings back good memories. It also makes you realize the importance that these people and the sacrifices that they're making and not just them, but also their families in supporting the security for our country and what their mission is. To me, that's where I get a lot of satisfaction out of working with them.

If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?

I think there's a misconception about people in the Navy League that we're all former military, and we're not. We're a civilian organization, and this is a way that anyone can support the military, in particular, like I said, the Navy, Marines and Coast Guardsmen and Merchant Mariners, but in particular, those who are away from their hometown, away from families and support what they're doing in keeping the U.S. safe all the time. To me, it's a way of giving back to these individuals and the mission that they're doing for us. It's not about us; it's about them. It's about being part of something bigger than you.

 

 

 

Telling the Navy League Story: Pat Du Mont
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services.  

Name: Patricia "Pat" Du Mont
Navy League Council: Fort Lauderdale Council
Council Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Years a Member: 30 years

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

My husband served in the Navy just four years. But I think the personal connection for Fort Lauderdale is we, for such a long time, have been a Navy city and we have an understanding of the Navy. We welcome them to our community. We're happy when they're there, and we want to show them a good time and do what we can to support their families.

And we have Coast Guard, we have SOUTHCOM [U.S. Southern Command] down in southern Florida. We have so many military people down there. And they're important to our economy, so as a past chair of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber [of Commerce], we look at those economic numbers too. I think all of those reasons make you want to be supportive of the military.

How did you first learn about the Navy League and end up joining?

It was because of neighbors who wanted to get my husband involved. And once you go to a meeting and you hear about the good work that's done, you hear about needs, you get involved in the legislative affairs aspect. And then a few years later I attended Sea-Air-Space. It is, not only is it a learning experience, but you are doing good for the men and women and their families that keep our country free and keep our lines of commerce open. So how can you not be supportive?

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

In Fort Lauderdale, we commissioned the USS Cole. And then of course several years later there was the bombing. And in Fort Lauderdale, because we had commissioned the Cole and we felt such a close association with the crew members of the ship, we put together a community commemoration service for the folks who had lost their lives and in honor of the work that they do.

And it was amazing to see the turnout in our community, because sometimes we think in the Navy League that we're serving a small group of people and people aren't paying attention. The performing arts center opened their 2,000-seat theater for us. Through the city, we were able to get that venue donated to us. And it was filled, so that was a very touching moment, recognizing and bringing together all around the world. We think of the military, we think of this incident when it had happened, and the fact that that ship was commissioned in our own community.

And the turnout that we had honoring the crew and the people who lost their lives and their families — it was pretty touching moment.

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

I guess I don't really look at it as personal benefits except that you make really good friends. You know that you're making a difference. It allows you to do special and unique things where you really feel that they're making a difference. I've been involved as a national vice president of legislative affairs. I've been involved as an NVP [national vice president] for communications. [Editor's note: Since the time of this interview, Pat Du Mont has become senior national vice president.]

I think it's the people that you meet, whether it's the civilian people, the Navy League members or the military people that you work with. It's putting all of that together. And I think it's an enriching experience, and we all need to be giving back to our community. I'm very involved in my local council, but it's interesting to me to be involved in the national level.

If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?

Our country is dependent upon commerce, and that is besides the men and women who protect our freedom every day. They also keep the commerce flowing in and out of our country. And I think that people forget the importance that the military plays and how huge those numbers are.

No. 1, for freedom in the world. And No. 2, for the commerce that it brings to our country. We would be a very different country if we didn't have the military out there keeping those shipping lines open for us and protecting us.

 

Telling the Navy League Story: Bull Walker
Monday, September 30, 2019

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services.  

Name: Bull Walker
Navy League Council: Ingleside Area Council
Council Location: Aransas Pass, Texas
Years a Member: 26 years

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

I'm a retired Navy. Actually, I didn't know anything about the Navy League until my last duty station, which was NAS [Naval Air Station] Chasefield in Beeville, Texas. That's where I met the Navy League. So, I retired. That's how I wanted to get involved, because they did such wonderful things for us [Walker and his wife] and see if we could turn the tables a little bit.

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

Our council just had the ... annual Coast Guard barbeque. A dear friend of mine from Beeville, Texas, asked if he could participate. He dragged a 40-foot barbeque pit from Beeville, Texas, to Corpus Christi to the Coast Guard hangar so we could have this barbeque. The Coasties love it. They talk about it for a whole year. ... If it puts a smile on a Coastie's face then, it's worth every minute we spent putting it together. It's a labor of love so it's a lot of fun. We really enjoy it.

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

We've gotten to travel a lot. The funny thing is, so many civilians ask, "How much does the Navy League pay for you to go to all these meetings and do everything that you do with the JROTCs and all that stuff?" I said, "Simple. It's zero." It's a volunteer organization, and we support the sea services, and we're all civilians. I don't care what your military rank was or what you retired or may not have retired as. We're all civilians. That's what we do, and it's worth it to put a smile on a kid's face or a smile on a Coastie's face. 

If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?

Civilians in support of our sea services: It's our mantra. The kids who go to sea, the kids who serve in the Marine Corps. They need our support. The only way we can do it is by spending our time and our effort giving them whatever we can. Doesn't necessarily have to be monetary. Just a thank you, a pat on the back. It's so inexpensive to be part of this organization, why not? I can't think of a good excuse not to become a member.

 

 

Name: Bobby Ferguson
Navy League Council: Glenview Council
Council Location: Glenview, Illinois
Years a Member: 30
What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?
I did serve in the Navy for three years. But I didn't get active in the Navy League until my son joined the Navy. He enlisted, and I felt if people were going to welcome him back from a cruise when he came back to the dock, slap him on the back, thank him, give him a beer, I ought to do the same thing for people who send their kids to [Naval Station] Great Lakes.
How did you first learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?
My boss found out I had been in the Navy and he said, “Ferguson, you will join the Navy League.” So I did it, you know, out of sort of an obligation to him to shut him up. But to choose to get actively involved was more of a personal decision that I made, because I saw the value and the worth of what the Navy League does, and that motivated me to jump in and do what I could to help the cause.
I was working for the federal government, and he was a presidential appointee. I worked directly for him. It was a little small agency, totally nothing to do with defense, a little small agency in Chicago.
Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?
There are so many. There are so many. I remember we were not supporting the Coast Guard up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as we should. There are three units up there, and so as region president I went up there one time to see how we could help them out, how we could support them. One of the things that all three of the units suggested was, “Do something for our spouses,” because they're up there away from any military structure, you know, the advantages to have a PX [post exchange], medical, things like that. They had none of that. They just had to live off the local economy.
I met some amazing women who, you know, they don't get a lot of money, they don't have a big income, they've got small children, they have challenges like we cannot even imagine. I met one particular woman who was deaf. She could not speak, she could not hear. She had two small children. And she's a Coast Guard wife, and she's got these two small children, which means her husband was gone a lot of the time. I couldn't figure out how in the world she raised two children, not being able to communicate. But she explained to me, and her friends were helping out, but they bonded, they helped each other out, and she explained to me how they just ... rudimentary signals with her hands and things like that ... she was able to communicate with her children. But there was such a bond between her and that child.
And I thought, the challenges I face as an individual are nothing compared to what a lot of these women have to face. I knew it was the right thing to do for us to support them.
How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?
I think it's given me a lot of purpose in my life. I retired relatively early, working for the federal government, and I could retire at age 55. I chose to do so. But I knew I had to do something with my time and my efforts or else I would get in trouble. So, I got more and more involved. As I said, when my son joined the Navy, and I got to meet some incredible people, some of the best people you could ever meet.
I can remember working with the Coast Guard helicopter detachment up in Waukegan, Illinois. These people are willing to jump out of a perfectly good helicopter to save my life. Those are the kind of people I decided I wanted to hang with. You know, I could go downtown Chicago and meet orange hairs and piercings and tattoos and all this kind of stuff, and that's fine for them, but they're not the people I wanted to hang out with. I wanted to hang out with people who served a purpose bigger than themselves, who wanted to do good, who wanted to save lives, and were willing to take the risk and subject themselves and their families to the rigors of military life. I decided that's the kind of people who deserve my attention and my effort.
If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?
A lot of people get involved in a lot of volunteer activities. A lot of times it's a result of things that happen to us. For example, I have friends who are very involved with the [National] MS [Multiple Sclerosis] Society, and it’s because they or a family member had MS.
I salute them because obviously that's a cause that's very worthy and it needs it. There are also people who ... have a connection to the sea services, and for that reason maybe they get involved.
But somebody who has no connection to anything and are looking for a way to add meaning to their life, to do something worthwhile, to feel good about themselves because of what they're doing, the feedback you get from these military families is just incredible. I get more out of it than I ever give to them. And so it adds meaning to my life, it adds depth and value to my life, and I feel like I'm doing something that I should be doing. You know, I could go out and carouse and go to bars or whatever, things like that, or I could sit home and watch TV and just wither away. But it has kept me alive; it's kept me young.
And dealing with the military people, again, it's people who just want to give. They are willing to make sacrifices. They want to give. And those are, again, the people that I want to be with and the people that I want to help. I think that's an argument for somebody else to say. If you're looking for a place to apply your efforts, your skills, your caring, give it to these folks who make such sacrifices.
I have a very vivid memory of going down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and going to a joint task force down there where they hold the detainees that they collected from the battlefields. It's a visual that drove home to me what the Navy, Marine Corps, the Coast Guard do for us. It was this: They took me into one of the camps, and this was a camp where people were compliant, they didn't break the rules, and they behaved themselves generally. But they were being held in a pod of 12 people like themselves, and they took me ... walking around a circle, and these pods were on the outside.
It's one-way glass, so I can see them, [but] they couldn't see me. But between me and that pod was what they call a “sally gate,” and it's about six feet by eight feet. Inside that sally gate was a Sailor or Marine or a Soldier. I'm sitting there and I'm looking, and I can see the bad guy across the way there, and he was maybe 30, 40 feet away from me. And I said, “There's the bad guy, and here I am. The only thing standing between me and that bad guy is that Sailor, that Marine, that Soldier standing in that sally gate.”
I applied that across the scale of the world. Over in the Mideast there were some bad guys. I mean, there's bad guys everywhere, but there were specifically people in the Middle East who were bad guys, and I'm here, and they want to stop me from living the way I live and take away the goodness I have, and the only thing stopping them from being able to come across and get me is that guy in the sally gate, that Soldier, that Sailor, that Marine, that is out there for us between the bad guys and me, keeping me safe. And it was just a visual of what we as the Navy League do that we support those guys who protect and defend us. 
I tell the story sometimes when I'm talking in front of a group, is that when I hear a Soldier or Sailor, a Marine take the oath of office, they raise their right hand, and they swear to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Well, that's what they say. What my ear hears is that, "I do solemnly swear to defend and uphold Bobby Ferguson." I take it personally. They're taking that oath because they're gonna defend me. They're willing to defend me.
It seems to me, I might be wrong, but it seems to me that if somebody is willing to put their life on the line to protect me, I think I owe them something. I think I owe them something.

 

Telling the Navy League Story: Dave Reilly
Thursday, August 22, 2019

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services. 

Name: Dave Reilly
Navy League Council: Camden-Kings Bay Council
Council Location: Saint Marys, Georgia
Years a Member: 21 years

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

I was in the Navy for 38 years.

How did you learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?

The first time I heard about the Navy League was when I was on the Sam Houston. It was probably 1966, I think. We were coming into Fort Lauderdale and they hosted the ship. They had a ball game and I played and drank and had a lot of fun and [so I] thought about Navy League. 

My final job was commanding officer of SWFLANT [Strategic Weapons Facility, Atlantic] and got to know the Camden-Kings Bay Council pretty well, and when the time came for me to retire and choose what organizations I was going to join, Navy League was one of them I wanted to join. So, I joined. Became a life member right away too, by the way.

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

Yeah. I mean, as a volunteer in the Navy League it was probably at the council level where I became council president and we did quite a few things with the local Navy base and with the Sea Cadets and things like that. But one of the major things that we did was in the Indy [Indianapolis 500] each year in May. We recognized all of the Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard men of the year. Although we didn't have Coast Guard, it was Marines and Sailors then. We do now have them down there, and recognizing what the young kids were doing and things like that really made it special.

Our relationship [with the sea services] in Camden-Kings Bay Council is really superb. The base for a long time even let Navy Leaguers come on. But then of course [with] 9/11 that changed, and we had to tighten up a little bit on security. 

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

It's made me pretty busy here over the last few years. … But they've been rewarding, especially I think the Maritime Policy Committee has been sort of the gem for me, because they really developed the policy that we use to educate the congressional and the civilian population, much like we were founded to do by Teddy Roosevelt back in 1902. So, I think that's special.

In your mind, why should someone who's not a member join the Navy League?

We needed sea services, all four of them: the Marines, Navy, the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine. And our nation [to] remain strong, has to have a strong sea service. And the three missions of the Navy League really lend itself well. We educate, we support the sea service personnel's family while they're out there at sea, and we help with the youth and help them to learn a little discipline. What could be more rewarding? 

 

 

Name: Bobby Ferguson
Navy League Council: Glenview Council
Council Location: Glenview, Illinois
Years a Member: 30
What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?
I did serve in the Navy for three years. But I didn't get active in the Navy League until my son joined the Navy. He enlisted, and I felt if people were going to welcome him back from a cruise when he came back to the dock, slap him on the back, thank him, give him a beer, I ought to do the same thing for people who send their kids to [Naval Station] Great Lakes.
How did you first learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?
My boss found out I had been in the Navy and he said, “Ferguson, you will join the Navy League.” So I did it, you know, out of sort of an obligation to him to shut him up. But to choose to get actively involved was more of a personal decision that I made, because I saw the value and the worth of what the Navy League does, and that motivated me to jump in and do what I could to help the cause.
I was working for the federal government, and he was a presidential appointee. I worked directly for him. It was a little small agency, totally nothing to do with defense, a little small agency in Chicago.
Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?
There are so many. There are so many. I remember we were not supporting the Coast Guard up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as we should. There are three units up there, and so as region president I went up there one time to see how we could help them out, how we could support them. One of the things that all three of the units suggested was, “Do something for our spouses,” because they're up there away from any military structure, you know, the advantages to have a PX [post exchange], medical, things like that. They had none of that. They just had to live off the local economy.
I met some amazing women who, you know, they don't get a lot of money, they don't have a big income, they've got small children, they have challenges like we cannot even imagine. I met one particular woman who was deaf. She could not speak, she could not hear. She had two small children. And she's a Coast Guard wife, and she's got these two small children, which means her husband was gone a lot of the time. I couldn't figure out how in the world she raised two children, not being able to communicate. But she explained to me, and her friends were helping out, but they bonded, they helped each other out, and she explained to me how they just ... rudimentary signals with her hands and things like that ... she was able to communicate with her children. But there was such a bond between her and that child.
And I thought, the challenges I face as an individual are nothing compared to what a lot of these women have to face. I knew it was the right thing to do for us to support them.
How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?
I think it's given me a lot of purpose in my life. I retired relatively early, working for the federal government, and I could retire at age 55. I chose to do so. But I knew I had to do something with my time and my efforts or else I would get in trouble. So, I got more and more involved. As I said, when my son joined the Navy, and I got to meet some incredible people, some of the best people you could ever meet.
I can remember working with the Coast Guard helicopter detachment up in Waukegan, Illinois. These people are willing to jump out of a perfectly good helicopter to save my life. Those are the kind of people I decided I wanted to hang with. You know, I could go downtown Chicago and meet orange hairs and piercings and tattoos and all this kind of stuff, and that's fine for them, but they're not the people I wanted to hang out with. I wanted to hang out with people who served a purpose bigger than themselves, who wanted to do good, who wanted to save lives, and were willing to take the risk and subject themselves and their families to the rigors of military life. I decided that's the kind of people who deserve my attention and my effort.
If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?
A lot of people get involved in a lot of volunteer activities. A lot of times it's a result of things that happen to us. For example, I have friends who are very involved with the [National] MS [Multiple Sclerosis] Society, and it’s because they or a family member had MS.
I salute them because obviously that's a cause that's very worthy and it needs it. There are also people who ... have a connection to the sea services, and for that reason maybe they get involved.
But somebody who has no connection to anything and are looking for a way to add meaning to their life, to do something worthwhile, to feel good about themselves because of what they're doing, the feedback you get from these military families is just incredible. I get more out of it than I ever give to them. And so it adds meaning to my life, it adds depth and value to my life, and I feel like I'm doing something that I should be doing. You know, I could go out and carouse and go to bars or whatever, things like that, or I could sit home and watch TV and just wither away. But it has kept me alive; it's kept me young.
And dealing with the military people, again, it's people who just want to give. They are willing to make sacrifices. They want to give. And those are, again, the people that I want to be with and the people that I want to help. I think that's an argument for somebody else to say. If you're looking for a place to apply your efforts, your skills, your caring, give it to these folks who make such sacrifices.
I have a very vivid memory of going down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and going to a joint task force down there where they hold the detainees that they collected from the battlefields. It's a visual that drove home to me what the Navy, Marine Corps, the Coast Guard do for us. It was this: They took me into one of the camps, and this was a camp where people were compliant, they didn't break the rules, and they behaved themselves generally. But they were being held in a pod of 12 people like themselves, and they took me ... walking around a circle, and these pods were on the outside.
It's one-way glass, so I can see them, [but] they couldn't see me. But between me and that pod was what they call a “sally gate,” and it's about six feet by eight feet. Inside that sally gate was a Sailor or Marine or a Soldier. I'm sitting there and I'm looking, and I can see the bad guy across the way there, and he was maybe 30, 40 feet away from me. And I said, “There's the bad guy, and here I am. The only thing standing between me and that bad guy is that Sailor, that Marine, that Soldier standing in that sally gate.”
I applied that across the scale of the world. Over in the Mideast there were some bad guys. I mean, there's bad guys everywhere, but there were specifically people in the Middle East who were bad guys, and I'm here, and they want to stop me from living the way I live and take away the goodness I have, and the only thing stopping them from being able to come across and get me is that guy in the sally gate, that Soldier, that Sailor, that Marine, that is out there for us between the bad guys and me, keeping me safe. And it was just a visual of what we as the Navy League do that we support those guys who protect and defend us. 
I tell the story sometimes when I'm talking in front of a group, is that when I hear a Soldier or Sailor, a Marine take the oath of office, they raise their right hand, and they swear to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Well, that's what they say. What my ear hears is that, "I do solemnly swear to defend and uphold Bobby Ferguson." I take it personally. They're taking that oath because they're gonna defend me. They're willing to defend me.
It seems to me, I might be wrong, but it seems to me that if somebody is willing to put their life on the line to protect me, I think I owe them something. I think I owe them something.

 

Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo Honored in the Fastest 50 Award for Show Growth
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space, the largest maritime exhibition in the United States, has been named to the Trade Show Executive Fastest 50, which annually recognizes the significant trade shows of the previous year that posted the exhibition industry’s highest growth rates in three key metric categories.

Sea-Air-Space won for its 2018 event, where it came in seventh place for increase in number of companies exhibiting, 18th place in net square footage of exhibitors and 39th in total attendance. Previously the show ranked 76th, 83rd and 73rd in those categories, respectively. A total of 90 shows made the Fastest 50 this year. Forty-one shows were ranked in more than one Fastest 50 metric category and only 19 made the team in all three.

Congratulations to our events team for a job well done!

Telling the Navy League Story: Sheila McNeill
Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services. 

Name: Sheila McNeill
Navy League Council: Camden-Kings Bay Council
Council Location: Saint Marys, Georgia
Years a Member: 52 years

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

I had no connection. In fact, my husband was in the Navy, but when we married he was already out of the Navy. He was in for four years but he wanted to be in the Navy League and, at that point, women did not have any kind of leadership, really were not even members in the councils, so I went with him. He later became [council] president, and when he was president, he asked to me find some speakers, and then that good man asked me to introduce some and it went on for several years.

I went to Kings Bay and opened a business there, and I went to a Navy League meeting and they were showing a meeting of the president’s time in the Bahamas. It was his children on the beach, so I went over to him and said, “Do you have a program chairman?” He said, "No, that's the reason I am showing my home movies," and I said, "May I do it?" And that's how I got started.

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

I know when we recognize young people in the military, it makes a difference. I had the opportunity when I was national president to go out in the Sequoia, which was yacht that John Kennedy used to take out. I went out on this yacht, and they had young men who had been injured in the war, and there was a young man there who lost both of his hands and he had new fixtures to use for hands. He and I got to talking and laughing, and I'm challenging him to try to pick up my coin with his new hands and I later think, what a horrible thing to have done, but he did it. He did it.

Afterward, he was so excited, so he kept having me challenge him more and then he said, “You know ma’am, I'd sure like to stay in the Marine Corp if I can do it.” So I don't know that I had anything to do with it, but I did talk to a lot of people and his picture was on the cover of Marine News about two months later, and he was teaching other Marines. When you run into people like that who give so much and you realize what little I give, no matter how much I do, it's so little [compared] to what so many of our people are doing.

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

I'm a smarter person for that. We have a lot of educational programs. I love legislative affairs. I was vice president of legislative affairs for a number of years, and really understanding what the services need, going to Washington, talking to them as a citizen. Not a contractor that is making money on it. And I love our contractors, and we can't do what we do without them. In fact, I lobby for them sometimes too, because in order to get these things done you've got to get the parts made and built as we are looking at our submarines in Kings Bay that are going to be replaced.

So, I love the fact that when you go to your legislator, you can say, “I do this because I'm a citizen. I do it because we need a strong sea service.” And I think that's probably the most beneficial thing. When you've studied, when you get the papers written, and you go and they listen to you, and later you see changes made. And I think that's for all of us. We want to know that there is a reason for what we do and there's some feedback on it and rewards, and our rewards are when we see our sea services receive what they badly need.

If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?

They should join because they're an American. They should join because they appreciate our military. They should join because they're civilians, and they're not having to do all the things our military's having to do. They should join thinking about those families and those children who say good-bye to their parents for six months and three months and all periods of time. They should join, because they'll be smarter. They can join, because they'll feel a heck of a lot better.

 

Name: Bobby Ferguson
Navy League Council: Glenview Council
Council Location: Glenview, Illinois
Years a Member: 30
What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?
I did serve in the Navy for three years. But I didn't get active in the Navy League until my son joined the Navy. He enlisted, and I felt if people were going to welcome him back from a cruise when he came back to the dock, slap him on the back, thank him, give him a beer, I ought to do the same thing for people who send their kids to [Naval Station] Great Lakes.
How did you first learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?
My boss found out I had been in the Navy and he said, “Ferguson, you will join the Navy League.” So I did it, you know, out of sort of an obligation to him to shut him up. But to choose to get actively involved was more of a personal decision that I made, because I saw the value and the worth of what the Navy League does, and that motivated me to jump in and do what I could to help the cause.
I was working for the federal government, and he was a presidential appointee. I worked directly for him. It was a little small agency, totally nothing to do with defense, a little small agency in Chicago.
Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?
There are so many. There are so many. I remember we were not supporting the Coast Guard up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as we should. There are three units up there, and so as region president I went up there one time to see how we could help them out, how we could support them. One of the things that all three of the units suggested was, “Do something for our spouses,” because they're up there away from any military structure, you know, the advantages to have a PX [post exchange], medical, things like that. They had none of that. They just had to live off the local economy.
I met some amazing women who, you know, they don't get a lot of money, they don't have a big income, they've got small children, they have challenges like we cannot even imagine. I met one particular woman who was deaf. She could not speak, she could not hear. She had two small children. And she's a Coast Guard wife, and she's got these two small children, which means her husband was gone a lot of the time. I couldn't figure out how in the world she raised two children, not being able to communicate. But she explained to me, and her friends were helping out, but they bonded, they helped each other out, and she explained to me how they just ... rudimentary signals with her hands and things like that ... she was able to communicate with her children. But there was such a bond between her and that child.
And I thought, the challenges I face as an individual are nothing compared to what a lot of these women have to face. I knew it was the right thing to do for us to support them.
How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?
I think it's given me a lot of purpose in my life. I retired relatively early, working for the federal government, and I could retire at age 55. I chose to do so. But I knew I had to do something with my time and my efforts or else I would get in trouble. So, I got more and more involved. As I said, when my son joined the Navy, and I got to meet some incredible people, some of the best people you could ever meet.
I can remember working with the Coast Guard helicopter detachment up in Waukegan, Illinois. These people are willing to jump out of a perfectly good helicopter to save my life. Those are the kind of people I decided I wanted to hang with. You know, I could go downtown Chicago and meet orange hairs and piercings and tattoos and all this kind of stuff, and that's fine for them, but they're not the people I wanted to hang out with. I wanted to hang out with people who served a purpose bigger than themselves, who wanted to do good, who wanted to save lives, and were willing to take the risk and subject themselves and their families to the rigors of military life. I decided that's the kind of people who deserve my attention and my effort.
If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?
A lot of people get involved in a lot of volunteer activities. A lot of times it's a result of things that happen to us. For example, I have friends who are very involved with the [National] MS [Multiple Sclerosis] Society, and it’s because they or a family member had MS.
I salute them because obviously that's a cause that's very worthy and it needs it. There are also people who ... have a connection to the sea services, and for that reason maybe they get involved.
But somebody who has no connection to anything and are looking for a way to add meaning to their life, to do something worthwhile, to feel good about themselves because of what they're doing, the feedback you get from these military families is just incredible. I get more out of it than I ever give to them. And so it adds meaning to my life, it adds depth and value to my life, and I feel like I'm doing something that I should be doing. You know, I could go out and carouse and go to bars or whatever, things like that, or I could sit home and watch TV and just wither away. But it has kept me alive; it's kept me young.
And dealing with the military people, again, it's people who just want to give. They are willing to make sacrifices. They want to give. And those are, again, the people that I want to be with and the people that I want to help. I think that's an argument for somebody else to say. If you're looking for a place to apply your efforts, your skills, your caring, give it to these folks who make such sacrifices.
I have a very vivid memory of going down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and going to a joint task force down there where they hold the detainees that they collected from the battlefields. It's a visual that drove home to me what the Navy, Marine Corps, the Coast Guard do for us. It was this: They took me into one of the camps, and this was a camp where people were compliant, they didn't break the rules, and they behaved themselves generally. But they were being held in a pod of 12 people like themselves, and they took me ... walking around a circle, and these pods were on the outside.
It's one-way glass, so I can see them, [but] they couldn't see me. But between me and that pod was what they call a “sally gate,” and it's about six feet by eight feet. Inside that sally gate was a Sailor or Marine or a Soldier. I'm sitting there and I'm looking, and I can see the bad guy across the way there, and he was maybe 30, 40 feet away from me. And I said, “There's the bad guy, and here I am. The only thing standing between me and that bad guy is that Sailor, that Marine, that Soldier standing in that sally gate.”
I applied that across the scale of the world. Over in the Mideast there were some bad guys. I mean, there's bad guys everywhere, but there were specifically people in the Middle East who were bad guys, and I'm here, and they want to stop me from living the way I live and take away the goodness I have, and the only thing stopping them from being able to come across and get me is that guy in the sally gate, that Soldier, that Sailor, that Marine, that is out there for us between the bad guys and me, keeping me safe. And it was just a visual of what we as the Navy League do that we support those guys who protect and defend us. 
I tell the story sometimes when I'm talking in front of a group, is that when I hear a Soldier or Sailor, a Marine take the oath of office, they raise their right hand, and they swear to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Well, that's what they say. What my ear hears is that, "I do solemnly swear to defend and uphold Bobby Ferguson." I take it personally. They're taking that oath because they're gonna defend me. They're willing to defend me.
It seems to me, I might be wrong, but it seems to me that if somebody is willing to put their life on the line to protect me, I think I owe them something. I think I owe them something.

 

Telling the Navy League Story: Bobby Ferguson
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services. 

Name: Bobby Ferguson
Navy League Council: Glenview Council
Council Location: Glenview, Illinois
Years a Member: 30

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

I did serve in the Navy for three years. But I didn't get active in the Navy League until my son joined the Navy. He enlisted, and I felt if people were going to welcome him back from a cruise when he came back to the dock, slap him on the back, thank him, give him a beer, I ought to do the same thing for people who send their kids to [Naval Station] Great Lakes.

How did you first learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?

My boss found out I had been in the Navy and he said, “Ferguson, you will join the Navy League.” So I did it, you know, out of sort of an obligation to him to shut him up. But to choose to get actively involved was more of a personal decision that I made, because I saw the value and the worth of what the Navy League does, and that motivated me to jump in and do what I could to help the cause.

I was working for the federal government, and he was a presidential appointee. I worked directly for him. It was a little small agency, totally nothing to do with defense, a little small agency in Chicago.

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

There are so many. There are so many. I remember we were not supporting the Coast Guard up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as we should. There are three units up there, and so as region president I went up there one time to see how we could help them out, how we could support them. One of the things that all three of the units suggested was, “Do something for our spouses,” because they're up there away from any military structure, you know, the advantages to have a PX [post exchange], medical, things like that. They had none of that. They just had to live off the local economy.

I met some amazing women who, you know, they don't get a lot of money, they don't have a big income, they've got small children, they have challenges like we cannot even imagine. I met one particular woman who was deaf. She could not speak, she could not hear. She had two small children. And she's a Coast Guard wife, and she's got these two small children, which means her husband was gone a lot of the time. I couldn't figure out how in the world she raised two children, not being able to communicate. But she explained to me, and her friends were helping out, but they bonded, they helped each other out, and she explained to me how they just ... rudimentary signals with her hands and things like that ... she was able to communicate with her children. But there was such a bond between her and that child. And I thought, the challenges I face as an individual are nothing compared to what a lot of these women have to face. I knew it was the right thing to do for us to support them.

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

I think it's given me a lot of purpose in my life. I retired relatively early, working for the federal government, and I could retire at age 55. I chose to do so. But I knew I had to do something with my time and my efforts or else I would get in trouble. So, I got more and more involved. As I said, when my son joined the Navy, and I got to meet some incredible people, some of the best people you could ever meet.

I can remember working with the Coast Guard helicopter detachment up in Waukegan, Illinois. These people are willing to jump out of a perfectly good helicopter to save my life. Those are the kind of people I decided I wanted to hang with. You know, I could go downtown Chicago and meet orange hairs and piercings and tattoos and all this kind of stuff, and that's fine for them, but they're not the people I wanted to hang out with. I wanted to hang out with people who served a purpose bigger than themselves, who wanted to do good, who wanted to save lives, and were willing to take the risk and subject themselves and their families to the rigors of military life. I decided that's the kind of people who deserve my attention and my effort.

If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?

A lot of people get involved in a lot of volunteer activities. A lot of times it's a result of things that happen to us. For example, I have friends who are very involved with the [National] MS [Multiple Sclerosis] Society, and it’s because they or a family member had MS.

I salute them because obviously that's a cause that's very worthy and it needs it. There are also people who ... have a connection to the sea services, and for that reason maybe they get involved.

But somebody who has no connection to anything and are looking for a way to add meaning to their life, to do something worthwhile, to feel good about themselves because of what they're doing, the feedback you get from these military families is just incredible. I get more out of it than I ever give to them. And so it adds meaning to my life, it adds depth and value to my life, and I feel like I'm doing something that I should be doing. You know, I could go out and carouse and go to bars or whatever, things like that, or I could sit home and watch TV and just wither away. But it has kept me alive; it's kept me young.

And dealing with the military people, again, it's people who just want to give. They are willing to make sacrifices. They want to give. And those are, again, the people that I want to be with and the people that I want to help. I think that's an argument for somebody else to say. If you're looking for a place to apply your efforts, your skills, your caring, give it to these folks who make such sacrifices.

I have a very vivid memory of going down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and going to a joint task force down there where they hold the detainees that they collected from the battlefields. It's a visual that drove home to me what the Navy, Marine Corps, the Coast Guard do for us. It was this: They took me into one of the camps, and this was a camp where people were compliant, they didn't break the rules, and they behaved themselves generally. But they were being held in a pod of 12 people like themselves, and they took me ... walking around a circle, and these pods were on the outside.

It's one-way glass, so I can see them, [but] they couldn't see me. But between me and that pod was what they call a sally gate, and it's about six feet by eight feet. Inside that sally gate was a Sailor or Marine or a Soldier. I'm sitting there and I'm looking, and I can see the bad guy across the way there, and he was maybe 30, 40 feet away from me. And I said, “There's the bad guy, and here I am. The only thing standing between me and that bad guy is that Sailor, that Marine, that Soldier standing in that sally gate.”

I applied that across the scale of the world. Over in the Mideast there were some bad guys. I mean, there's bad guys everywhere, but there were specifically people in the Middle East who were bad guys, and I'm here, and they want to stop me from living the way I live and take away the goodness I have, and the only thing stopping them from being able to come across and get me is that guy in the sally gate, that Soldier, that Sailor, that Marine, that is out there for us between the bad guys and me, keeping me safe. And it was just a visual of what we as the Navy League do that we support those guys who protect and defend us. 

I tell the story sometimes when I'm talking in front of a group, is that when I hear a Soldier or Sailor, a Marine take the oath of office, they raise their right hand, and they swear to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Well, that's what they say. What my ear hears is that, "I do solemnly swear to defend and uphold Bobby Ferguson." I take it personally. They're taking that oath because they're gonna defend me. They're willing to defend me.

It seems to me, I might be wrong, but it seems to me that if somebody is willing to put their life on the line to protect me, I think I owe them something. I think I owe them something.

 

Name: Bobby Ferguson
Navy League Council: Glenview Council
Council Location: Glenview, Illinois
Years a Member: 30
What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?
I did serve in the Navy for three years. But I didn't get active in the Navy League until my son joined the Navy. He enlisted, and I felt if people were going to welcome him back from a cruise when he came back to the dock, slap him on the back, thank him, give him a beer, I ought to do the same thing for people who send their kids to [Naval Station] Great Lakes.
How did you first learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?
My boss found out I had been in the Navy and he said, “Ferguson, you will join the Navy League.” So I did it, you know, out of sort of an obligation to him to shut him up. But to choose to get actively involved was more of a personal decision that I made, because I saw the value and the worth of what the Navy League does, and that motivated me to jump in and do what I could to help the cause.
I was working for the federal government, and he was a presidential appointee. I worked directly for him. It was a little small agency, totally nothing to do with defense, a little small agency in Chicago.
Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?
There are so many. There are so many. I remember we were not supporting the Coast Guard up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as we should. There are three units up there, and so as region president I went up there one time to see how we could help them out, how we could support them. One of the things that all three of the units suggested was, “Do something for our spouses,” because they're up there away from any military structure, you know, the advantages to have a PX [post exchange], medical, things like that. They had none of that. They just had to live off the local economy.
I met some amazing women who, you know, they don't get a lot of money, they don't have a big income, they've got small children, they have challenges like we cannot even imagine. I met one particular woman who was deaf. She could not speak, she could not hear. She had two small children. And she's a Coast Guard wife, and she's got these two small children, which means her husband was gone a lot of the time. I couldn't figure out how in the world she raised two children, not being able to communicate. But she explained to me, and her friends were helping out, but they bonded, they helped each other out, and she explained to me how they just ... rudimentary signals with her hands and things like that ... she was able to communicate with her children. But there was such a bond between her and that child.
And I thought, the challenges I face as an individual are nothing compared to what a lot of these women have to face. I knew it was the right thing to do for us to support them.
How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?
I think it's given me a lot of purpose in my life. I retired relatively early, working for the federal government, and I could retire at age 55. I chose to do so. But I knew I had to do something with my time and my efforts or else I would get in trouble. So, I got more and more involved. As I said, when my son joined the Navy, and I got to meet some incredible people, some of the best people you could ever meet.
I can remember working with the Coast Guard helicopter detachment up in Waukegan, Illinois. These people are willing to jump out of a perfectly good helicopter to save my life. Those are the kind of people I decided I wanted to hang with. You know, I could go downtown Chicago and meet orange hairs and piercings and tattoos and all this kind of stuff, and that's fine for them, but they're not the people I wanted to hang out with. I wanted to hang out with people who served a purpose bigger than themselves, who wanted to do good, who wanted to save lives, and were willing to take the risk and subject themselves and their families to the rigors of military life. I decided that's the kind of people who deserve my attention and my effort.
If someone's not a Navy League member why should they join?
A lot of people get involved in a lot of volunteer activities. A lot of times it's a result of things that happen to us. For example, I have friends who are very involved with the [National] MS [Multiple Sclerosis] Society, and it’s because they or a family member had MS.
I salute them because obviously that's a cause that's very worthy and it needs it. There are also people who ... have a connection to the sea services, and for that reason maybe they get involved.
But somebody who has no connection to anything and are looking for a way to add meaning to their life, to do something worthwhile, to feel good about themselves because of what they're doing, the feedback you get from these military families is just incredible. I get more out of it than I ever give to them. And so it adds meaning to my life, it adds depth and value to my life, and I feel like I'm doing something that I should be doing. You know, I could go out and carouse and go to bars or whatever, things like that, or I could sit home and watch TV and just wither away. But it has kept me alive; it's kept me young.
And dealing with the military people, again, it's people who just want to give. They are willing to make sacrifices. They want to give. And those are, again, the people that I want to be with and the people that I want to help. I think that's an argument for somebody else to say. If you're looking for a place to apply your efforts, your skills, your caring, give it to these folks who make such sacrifices.
I have a very vivid memory of going down to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and going to a joint task force down there where they hold the detainees that they collected from the battlefields. It's a visual that drove home to me what the Navy, Marine Corps, the Coast Guard do for us. It was this: They took me into one of the camps, and this was a camp where people were compliant, they didn't break the rules, and they behaved themselves generally. But they were being held in a pod of 12 people like themselves, and they took me ... walking around a circle, and these pods were on the outside.
It's one-way glass, so I can see them, [but] they couldn't see me. But between me and that pod was what they call a “sally gate,” and it's about six feet by eight feet. Inside that sally gate was a Sailor or Marine or a Soldier. I'm sitting there and I'm looking, and I can see the bad guy across the way there, and he was maybe 30, 40 feet away from me. And I said, “There's the bad guy, and here I am. The only thing standing between me and that bad guy is that Sailor, that Marine, that Soldier standing in that sally gate.”
I applied that across the scale of the world. Over in the Mideast there were some bad guys. I mean, there's bad guys everywhere, but there were specifically people in the Middle East who were bad guys, and I'm here, and they want to stop me from living the way I live and take away the goodness I have, and the only thing stopping them from being able to come across and get me is that guy in the sally gate, that Soldier, that Sailor, that Marine, that is out there for us between the bad guys and me, keeping me safe. And it was just a visual of what we as the Navy League do that we support those guys who protect and defend us. 
I tell the story sometimes when I'm talking in front of a group, is that when I hear a Soldier or Sailor, a Marine take the oath of office, they raise their right hand, and they swear to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Well, that's what they say. What my ear hears is that, "I do solemnly swear to defend and uphold Bobby Ferguson." I take it personally. They're taking that oath because they're gonna defend me. They're willing to defend me.
It seems to me, I might be wrong, but it seems to me that if somebody is willing to put their life on the line to protect me, I think I owe them something. I think I owe them something.

 

Navy League Staffer Goes From Supporter to Sea Service Member
Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Navy League accounting staffer James Darby recently opted to end his employment with us for one of the most exciting reasons we could imagine: He joined one of the sea services.

A prolific trombonist, James enlisted in the Marine Corps and will serve in the Marine Corps band. We sat down with him to get his parting thoughts as a Navy Leaguer and what the transition to sea service member will be like.

1. What made you decide to join the Marines?

I decided to join the Marines to have the opportunity to serve our nation while perusing my passion for music and following the footsteps of legendary Marine musicians like John Phillip Sousa to jazz musician Ellis Marsalis.

2. Have you had any family members serve in the sea services before this?

No. However, my dad served in the Army and my brother served in the Air Force.

3. How has your time in the Navy League influenced your decision to join the Marines?

My time in the Navy League influenced my decision to join the Marines, because I was able gain insight on how this very organization supports and advocate for our sea service men and women and their families. Knowing that such an organization exists, such as the Navy League, gave me peace of mind knowing that I have a strong force of support in a greater capacity, in addition to my family and friends.

4. What will you be doing in the Marines?

I will be a part of the Marine Corps musical unit playing trombone.  

5. What is your musical background, and what experiences inspired you to join the Marine Corps band?

I’ve been playing trombone since the 6th grade. Throughout my development as a musician, I’ve performed in various types of ensembles. Some of which include concert bands, full orchestras, brass ensembles, brass bands, jazz bands, trombone quartets, marching bands and [I have] also performed as a solo musician. I’ve also had the opportunity to perform for and with professional artist, such Tye Tribbett, Dottie Peoples and Micah Stampley, just to name a few.

The Marine Corps Band is my favorite out of all the service bands. I first became interested in the Marine Corps band while in high school when I had the opportunity to see them perform at the John F. Kennedy Center in concert. It was an amazing experience, as I had never heard a band sound that great! I’ve also been to various Marine Corp Band concerts here in the D.C. area. … These experiences inspired and helped me believe that one day I would have the opportunity to become a Marine musician. That opportunity is now!

6. How are you preparing for basic training?

I’ve always been physically active. I make sure I’m able to meet/exceed the physical requirements needed.

7. What have you learned about the sea services and the Navy League’s mission since you started working here?

The Navy League's mission helped me learn that the spouses of the sea services play a vital role in lives of our service men and women.

8. Do you plan on staying in contact with the Navy League while serving in the Marine Corps band?

Absolutely!

9. What will you miss the most about working at the Navy League?

What I will miss most about working at the Navy League is the invaluable experience it has provided me professionally as well as the knowledge I gained about the sea services.

 

Elevating Our Mission to New Heights
Monday, April 01, 2019

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

It was during our organization’s founding in 1902 that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed to the American people: “Give hearty support to the policies which the Navy League is founded to further.” Over 116 years later, this proclamation remains as important as ever as we continue to elevate our mission of education and advocacy in support of our nation’s sea services and their families to new heights. 

We are a unique global nonprofit civilian volunteer organization, endorsed by Theodore Roosevelt, with an unmatched and unwavering passion in support of our sea services mission. We have stood the test of time and have grown through our 116 years to more than 200 councils and thousands of vol¬unteer members around the globe. Our Navy League will always be a constant and persistent presence, ensuring the American people are informed about the importance of a strong Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, U.S.-flag Merchant Marine, and strong support to their families. 

As part of elevating our advocacy and education mission, we are gearing up for our 2019 Sea-Air-Space exposition, during which we also will be hosting a STEM Exposition to provide free access to science, technology, engineering and math skills for children around the Washington, D.C., area. This year’s Sea-Air-Space theme of “sustainability, agility and superiority” aligns itself with our great leader and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and his “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority, Version 2.0.” CNO’s message in this document is one that our Navy League must pay careful attention to as we plot our own course for the future. This is a never-ending compe¬tition, and our Navy League team must continue to be laser-focused on building toward a future of sustainability, agility and superiority so that we can fulfill this massive responsibility bestowed upon us toward our mission. 

We are spearheading and elevating our support of spouse and youth programs to ensure that every member of a sea services family gets superior commitment from our Navy League. At our Maritime Gala, held during Sea-Air- Space on May 7, we will recognize and honor the critical role of our sea service spouses and will present Naval Services FamilyLine with an award for all the incredible work they do. This gala demonstrates that our organiza¬tion is agile and operates with outside-of-the-box, innovative thinking. 

Over the last couple of months, it has been an honor to travel to some of our regions and experience firsthand the phenomenal work our councils and volunteers do around the world. Through the magnitude of our councils’ volunteer work every day in the field, it’s nearly impossible to quantify just how important our work is to our sea services and their families. It is your dedication and commitment to our mission that makes us the most superior civilian sea services nonprofit organization. 

Together as a team, through the leadership of our national executive director, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy 13 Mike Stevens, we will achieve the goals set out in this year’s Sea-Air-Space theme: sustainability, agility and superiority. Our organization is described by each of these words every day with the important work we do together as a team. Our teamwork, support and our unique focus on our mission is why we will continue to be the greatest supporter of our sea services and their families for centuries to come. 

One Team — Mission Focused

Navy League Releases Biennial Maritime Policy Statement
Monday, March 11, 2019

The Navy League of the United States has released its biennial legislative document, “Maritime Policy 2019-2020,” detailing the legislative requirements of the sea services to remain competitive in a dynamic global maritime environment. 

This document helps shape the organization's policy goals for the coming two years and provides cohesive guidance for membership around the country and the world with information they can use to appeal to their local representatives. 

To read the report and download the accompanying fact sheet, visit our Legislative Affairs page

The Navy League Celebrates Black History Month
Friday, February 01, 2019

Black history is sea service history. This month, the Navy League is honoring African American contributions to our sea services by featuring a few stories that highlight the black experience of serving. 

African Americans have been enlisted in the Navy even in the days of the Civil War. Below is an infographic showing milestones of black Navy service. 

African American History Month Infographic

Interview: Dana Richardson, Naval Services FamilyLine
Thursday, January 24, 2019

Seapower Deputy Editor Peter Atkinson sat down with Dana Richardson, who serves as an adviser for Naval Services FamilyLine, to discuss the organization’s new partnership with the Navy League. Excerpts from that interview are below.

Q: How long have you been involved with NSFL?

A: Naval Services FamilyLine has been around since 1965 when it first began as Wifeline. The name was changed around 1999 to FamilyLine to fit the new population of spouses — both male and female — and to bring it into the 21st century way of thinking. Many of our spouses have their own careers. During our 36 years in the Navy, I’ve been involved in many different ways with NSFL, directly and indirectly. Lately, I’ve had a very focused involvement with NSFL and am excited for the next phase of the organization’s journey.

Q: As an adviser, what is your particular role? And has that grown, especially with your husband becoming the CNO [chief of naval operations]?

A: My role as an adviser to NSFL has been to help guide all of their programs, and my real focus has been on spouse education — making sure that it’s timely and relevant, what the spouses need when they need it.

I’d like to add that there are many capable and smart spouses who are also working very hard toward this same effort. For example, our chairman, Leanna McCollum and her team have worked and volunteered countless hours to gather information, produce publications, teach courses, host events, along with keeping the organization vibrant and meeting our spouses’ needs and addressing their concerns. We value our relationship with CNIC [Naval Installations Command] to keep us informed with any Navy updates, rules and regulations.

Presently, the NSFL team is making sure their programs are meaningful and the tools that our spouses need to handle this challenging way of life. We refer a lot to the Navy Family Framework, which was released a little over a year ago and encourage the spouses and families to learn all that they can in the Navy world, what this Navy world has to offer them and how they can contribute. Together, we are stronger and stronger families mean a stronger fleet.

Being in this role as an active-duty spouse to the CNO, I’m able to help make connections and help move things forward. This can’t be done without our spouses’ hard work and commitment.

Q: NSFL has done some work with the Navy League councils in the past. Can you discuss that and how the partnership with the entire organization came about?

A: One of our four pillars is CORE, which is Continuum of Resources and Education. We presently have seven different locations where we offer CORE [San Diego, Washington state, Washington, D.C., Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Hampton Roads, Virginia, Hawaii, and Yokosuka, Japan]. There are many more locations where we would love to have CORE. The limiting factor so often is funding, finding a place to host the events, and logistical help. The need and desire are there with our spouses and we just need the means to help us out. Plus, the relationship with local Navy Leagues would, in turn, make both groups stronger.

Hampton Roads sets the bar high and MaryEllen Baldwin, council president of Hampton Roads Navy League, has been a stellar supporter of our cause. She is helped on the CORE side by many dedicated spouses, and with her support and input has created a very vibrant CORE community which is flourishing. Through working with MaryEllen, we were encouraged to contact Navy League headquarters here in D.C. National President Alan Kaplan and his amazing team were on board with our vision immediately and graciously offered us a partnership with our COREs. We are so excited to be able to run our programs with the help and support of Navy League.

Q: What is the road ahead now?

A: NSFL is a volunteer organization. We have one paid office manager position and over 400 volunteers throughout the world. Our vision is to grow in the spaces where the Navy needs spouse-to-spouse education and mentoring, grow in our relationship with Navy League, continue to grow with our spouses in our education platforms, and continue to stay relevant with our publications and materials. We would love to see real involvement from all Navy Leagues, similar to Hampton Roads.

Q: If there are councils out there that are interested in lending a hand or getting involved, whom should they contact?

A: They can go to our website directly and contact us: http://www.nsfamilyline.org or Info@NSFamilyLine.org. I would encourage people to take a look at our website to explore and see all of the different things NSFL does to keep spouses and families encouraged, educated, informed and engaged.

 

To watch a video on Naval Service FamilyLine's Command Spouse Leadership Course, click below. 

 

Naval Services FamilyLine Video

 

 

Call to Action: Tell Congress to Fund Coast Guard, MARAD Pay Despite Shutdown
Thursday, January 03, 2019

Today, the Navy League of the United States National President Alan Kaplan and National Vice President of Legislative Affairs Jonathan Kaskin issued a letter, urging the newly elected Congress to pass funding that would ensure that Coast Guard men and women and Maritime Administration employees and their families be paid and have backpay restored immediately, despite the government shutdown.

To read the statement, visit our News page of our website.

To voice your concerns about how the government shutdown is affecting our Coast Guard and Merchant Mariners, go to our Voice to Congress page and write your representatives.

 

 

Creating Critical Teamwork
Wednesday, January 02, 2019

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

With the passing of President George H.W. Bush, a former Navy pilot and war hero who survived being shot down and avoided capture in bombing raids on Chichijima, Japan, I’ve spent time during the last month reflecting on the state of our sea service challenges then versus now.

President Bush oversaw what truly was the end of a long, arduous era for the United States — the tense competition of the Cold War. The period saw the United States rise to do some of its greatest work, excelling in the space race and putting man on the moon. But it also saw many moments that tried our still young nation, with the peak fervor occurring during the Cuban missile crisis.

President Bush was a strong international diplomat and during his one term in office he oversaw many high-profile moments that are playing out once again on the global stage. With the first Gulf War, there was a sound and swift victory. And we saw the end of tension dating back to the 1940s with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

However, history has a habit of repeating itself. The early 2000s saw a new Middle East uprising with his son, George W. Bush, as president. And now, after decades of enjoying uncontested global dominance, the United States and our armed forces are once again surveying a world where there is “great power competition,” as Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has coined it. Our access to resources, sea lanes and more assets than our competition is no longer a given. We must once again fight to maintain our dominance in the face of a rising China and a persistent Russia."

As we move into this great power competition, as we build a more lethal Navy, as we build more ships, more advanced technology, talented Sailors — none of those by themselves are sufficient to respond to today’s complex challenges without commanding officers of ships that are focused on competition, focused on building teams that can go out there and compete and win,” Adm. Richardson said during a 2018 speech at a public policy event.

Winning teams of peers and allies are the key to overcoming these international challenges and strengthening our sea services so their dominance ensures our peace. And we at the Navy League are a part of that team.

It is through our service that the American public is aware that the United States is a maritime nation. Our work on Capitol Hill, through letter-writing campaigns, our “Maritime Policy Statement,” and by knocking on doors of our representatives in Washington and around the country, ensures that the needs of our sea services are met. We create important ties through our work at industry events, from our own Sea-Air-Space to establishing U.S. pavilions at maritime exhibitions around the world.

We offer essential education to the community through this magazine and other communication channels. And when we raise funds here at our national headquarters, it is to ensure our sea services have the talent they need for the future, through our scholarships and support of youth programs like the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets.

Our Navy League is a critical member of our sea services’ team, and it’s apparent through our reputation among their leaders that we are a winning team. We must continue this work for our cause. To be effective, this means working together as one team to ensure our organization is agile and streamlined — by strengthening our teamwork with each other, we are enabling our sea services to take up that “great power competition” and win.


One Team — Mission Focused

 

 

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens Named New Navy League Executive Director
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Navy League of the United States has named retired 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens as its new executive director. Stevens will officially assume the position Jan. 7, 2019, at the Navy League’s national headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

During his 33 years in the U.S. Navy, Stevens rose through the ranks, becoming the 13th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, a post he maintained from 2012 to 2016. Steven’s naval career began at the Aviation Structural Mechanic Apprentice School in Millington, Tennessee. He served as Master Chief Petty Officer when assigned to Fleet Composite Eight as the Maintenance Master Chief and Command Master Chief starting in 2002; Command Master Chief for Helicopter Mine Counter measure Squadron 14 in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2006; Commander of the Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic in 2007; Command Master Chief for the Commander of the 2nd Fleet in 2009; and 16th Fleet Master Chief for Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command in 2010, to name a few highlights.

“The Navy League is laser-focused on supporting our sea services — the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine — through education, advocacy and support, and Mike’s background and experience he brings from the Navy are second-to-none,” said Alan Kaplan, national president of the Navy League of the United States. “He will be essential in advancing our mission, and we are energized to begin incorporating his vision to our operations.”Stevens most recently served as CEO of Viqtory, a marketing company focused on increasing veteran hiring and transitioning service members and their families to civilian life. He was hired by the Pittsburgh company as chief operating officer in 2016. 

Stevens has served on the board of directors for the Association of The United States Navy (AUSN) and was the Chairman for AUSN’s Anchor Society, and was a Navy League member prior to his hire. Previously, he served as a board adviser for the National Museum of the American Sailor and the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation. Stevens is frequent guest lecturer for the Naval Postgraduate School.

“During my time in the Navy, I was able to gain exceptional appreciation for how important it is to have an organization like the Navy League in support of our mission,” said Stevens. “It’s an honor to still be able to serve the Navy community through this new opportunity, and I will strive to find new ways to make our work more relevant and impactful to all the sea services.” 

Stevens received a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior College. His personal awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (five awards), the Navy Achievement Medal (six awards), the Coast Guard Achievement Medal with operational “O,” the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist Insignia and Enlisted Naval Aircrew Wings. 

Stevens is married to Theresa Gautreaux-Stevens, of Pensacola, Florida.

 

 

Navy League Special Topic Breakfast With Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Schultz Featured on C-SPAN
Friday, December 14, 2018

Today, the Navy League held its December Special Topic Breakfast, with keynote speaker U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz. Schultz spoke on the Coast Guard's global presence, increased Arctic activity and budgetary needs. 

The event, which is free to Navy League corporate members and the military, aired live on C-SPAN.

 

C-SPAN video of Schultz

 

Relive the Fun of the 243rd Navy Birthday Ball
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

From keynote speaker Southwest Airlines Captain Tammie Jo Schults, to addresses by Chief of Naval Operations John Richarson and Navy League National President Alan Kaplan, to a night of endless entertainment, relive the fun of this year's 243rd Navy Birthday Ball through our new recap video, showing highlights from a very special night. 

US Navy Birthday Ball Video

High-Velocity Change
Monday, December 03, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President
As our year comes to a close and we reflect upon all that we have accomplished as a team in 2018, we should all feel an immense sense of pride. 

Our Navy League is re-energized, focused on elevating our mission to new heights. While we do phenomenal work to support our mission, we must remember that we can always do better. Working together is vital to our success and, above all else, we must nurture our relationships with each other to ensure our organization continues to thrive. Our focus on inclusion and embracing the diversity of our teammates, and their ideas, will power our success. Our biggest asset is our people.

Our councils and the work we are doing in the field are the backbone of what makes our Navy League such an enriching organization. Without the strength of your volunteerism, there would be fewer smiles on the faces of sea service men and women and their families, and you wouldn’t have witnessed the strong legislation that came through this year, including our win to get 355 ships codified into law for our U.S. Navy. In fact, it is our Navy’s core attributes that all of us continue to display every day — accountability, integrity, toughness and initiative — as an expression of our commitment that guides us to keep our team strong. 

Our headquarters staff is also helping usher in a new era, one where our team here in Washington is working closely with our field, so there is support for our councils at the highest levels of our organization. We’ve seen huge successes this year, and we can overcome any challenge by working together. We are operating in a high-velocity change environment, where innovation is critical. The status quo will not work. To ensure our Navy League endures, we must continue to take calculated risks, explore new programs, and find new ways to support our sea services and their families, which is at the forefront of everything we do as an organization.

The game has changed, the goalposts have moved, and competition is high. But we must continue to innovate and be solutions-driven. We will continue to be the world’s finest organization in support of our sea services and their families, but only if we fight every minute together to get better. 

Last month, we held our annual Fall Board of Directors meeting. Our successes during the meeting were only made possible by us operating together as one team. We are making big moves to better our Navy League as we raise the bar in support of our mission. 

I am proud to announce the election of our new National President-Elect, William “Bill” Stevenson III, who will take office as national president in June 2019. Bill exemplifies through his actions our Navy’s core values of honor, courage and commitment, and we look forward to his leadership. 

Our future is bright, and we should be proud of our accomplishments. There is a lot of work to be done, but always remember — this is not about us. This is about our greater mission. Together we will win, and I am counting on your integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness as we fight to win in this competitive environment. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to the mission of our great organization. I am honored and proud to serve as your leader. 

One Team – Mission Focused

Providing a Lifetime of Support
Thursday, November 01, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Each member of our Navy League joins up in a pledge to support the men and women of our sea services and their families. But in actuality, our support is truly a life-cycle process that begins with nurturing youth who are drawn to a lifetime of service, providing direct support when they are active duty, and fostering positive national- and council-level programs so their families can thrive well beyond their official service.

It’s not enough to assume that our sea services will have the skilled manpower they need whenever our nation is challenged. Our Navy League directly supports middle and high school youth through our STEM Institute. Our service men and women are increasingly relying on science, technology, engineering and math to maintain our technological advantages. Our councils can leverage grants so there is grassroots-level support for children around the country to get the education they need to create a better workforce and learn about the core values of our sea services.

Another essential part of our mission is ensuring that there are young men and women who are inspired to serve and see how rewarding that choice really is. Our U.S. Naval Sea Cadet and Navy League Cadet Corps, along with other programs like the Navy Junior ROTC, Marine Corps Junior ROTC and Young Marines, provide our nation’s youth with a glimpse of what their future may hold. They learn the true meanings of honor, commitment, courage, respect and devotion to duty. As a result, our sea services directly benefit from a stronger workforce that has the training it needs to succeed.

According to our partners at the Sea Cadets, more than 10 percent of the midshipmen in the most recent U.S. Naval Academy class were former cadets, and each cadet who enlists saves the Navy more than $14,000 in life-cycle training costs. Our extensive national and council support of these organizations has a direct and meaningful impact on our sea services and their families.

Once these men and women are enlisted, they see the power of our Navy League at ship commissioning and decommissioning ceremonies and other many local events sponsored by Navy League councils. At the national level, our Navy League provides support through events like Sea-Air-Space and the recent 243rd National Capital Navy Birthday Ball. But another important part of our mission of support extends beyond their time in the service.

Our Navy League is zeroing in on our support of sea services spouses, who are often challenged to find consistent work and transition their young children as they follow their spouse through their moves and deployments. We are working closely with key spouse organizations to ensure our support extends to families, so they have a toolset to help them succeed through some of the challenges of being married to the military.

This support extends as well to their children, and even to their grandchildren. Through our Navy League Foundation, we provide more than $50,000 every year in scholarships to the families of sea services members, giving them additional financial aid so they can realize their college dreams.

We should all be so proud of our organization for providing a lifetime of support for those who do so much for us.

One Team — Mission Focused

The Power of Diversity
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

“The strength of the Department of the Navy is found in our people. Our success relies upon leveraging the diverse talents and unique perspectives of every Sailor, Marine and civilian. … We have an obligation to demonstrate daily, through our words and actions, that every person is valued. When we embrace diversity and inclusion, we will find that the sum of our actions are greater than our individual efforts.”

Those words by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer ring true for me every day. As our sea services place greater emphasis on ensuring that they find strength in a winning team with their diverse workforce, our Navy League too must follow this lead and look to ourselves to be more inclusive.

At our headquarters, I’m proud to lead a team from many backgrounds, with many different stories to tell and many ways they got to be the successful people they are. The same is true for our members. When I visit different councils around the country and speak with our valued members abroad, I’m reminded that there is no right or wrong way to support the sea services.

People with different backgrounds bring different ideas, and there is unmeasurable strength that comes with that. We will not reach our goals if we go it alone. Having an all-inclusive team ensures that all of us as individuals are more capable. This is what makes for a winning team.

The absence of diversity and inclusion sows the seeds of division and fear. Our sea services cannot be effective in the face of these obstacles, and neither can our Navy League. As we look to grow our membership — a challenge every military and veteran service organization is facing right now — we must strive for diversity. You truly never know where you will find someone inspired to serve those who serve others.

As a first-generation American born thousands of miles from the United States myself, I can assure you that people from all over the world with different backgrounds and many different ideas can still be passionate and fervent in their support of our nation’s Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine. As these services, and their leaders, continue to place an emphasis on diversity, the Navy League too is formalizing our plans to celebrate our community from all walks of life.

We are enhancing our communications to be more inclusive of the hallmark events throughout the year that celebrate diversity. Everyone seeking to support our sea services brings value to our organization, and we want to assure our community that everyone who pledges support to our organization is welcome.

In the words of a great leader and our Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, “Actively being inclusive and open to diverse perspectives will produce leaders and teams who learn and adapt to achieve maximum possible performance, and who achieve and maintain high standards, to be ready for decisive operations and combat. Let’s get to it.”

There’s no one way to be a great Navy Leaguer. There’s no one type of person who is going to make our organization excel and win. But there is one way we can ensure that we reach our goals and our mission soars to new heights, and that is together as one inclusive team.

One Team — Mission Focused

Sharing in Sacrifice
Sunday, October 21, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Sacrifices come in many forms and from many people. Every day out in the field, we see the sacrifice of the men and women of our sea services — individuals who have selflessly pledged their lives to the safety and security of our nation and our families.

With the 17th anniversary of 9/11 this month, I’ve been reflecting on the many forms of sacrifice that occurred that day. Without question, those in uniform, from our military to first responders, were unwavering, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.

But what strikes me about that time are the number of individuals who rose to the occasion. So many everyday Americans heeded the call of sacrifice and showed their support of one another. Neighbors talked to neighbors who for years were strangers. People lined up to donate blood. Mariners helped evacuate people from Manhattan in numbers not possible without their spontaneous volunteerism.

The ability to rise to the occasion lies within all of us in times of great need, but a special few continue the call to duty by pledging to support all Americans day in and day out. Many of the people who enlisted after 9/11 are still in uniform today, serving all over the world to guard us against terrorism and prevent unrest. But the inspiration to serve doesn’t stop with our brave men and women in uniform — their families are also making difficult sacrifices every day so their spouse, or mom or dad, or aunt or uncle can protect our nation.

And often, our military spouses and families are sacrificing in silence — switching jobs whenever duty calls, starting a school year in a brand-new place, learning how to navigate life in another country, or simply looking to find new friends once again.

Perhaps fittingly, this month also holds another date that marks the sacrifice of so many of these family members — Gold Star Mother’s Day. This Sept. 30 is yet another reminder that it’s not just our brave members of the military who make sacrifices for our nation — their families and everyone in their support system harbor that burden as well.

As Navy League members, we’ve all responded to the call of duty — perhaps as a veteran yourself, or the spouse or family member of one. But every single one of us knows the importance of sacrificing our time and talents during both times that try and times of peace. Through our education and advocacy efforts, and support of sea service youth programs and sea services personnel, we help our community in a way that makes a real impact. It takes dedicated effort, and all of us working as one team, to help our sea services in ways both big and small.

Not everything has to be an annual award or a large scholarship for our youth. Simply providing people with a smile and showing them our gratitude for their decision to serve can make a life-long impact on the lives of our sea service men and women, and their families.

This month, I encourage you to seek out new ways to help in your community. Talk to your fellow council members, or members of other councils. See what they have done that has made an impact in their community. Every day I hear wonderful stories about the work we do, and sharing those moments with each other is a powerful way to get reinvigorated and inspired to continue and elevate our mission to serve those who serve others.

One Team — Mission Focused

Working as One Team
Saturday, October 20, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

On June 1, Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz took over as commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard from Adm. Paul F. Zukunft. Both of these men have proved the value in great leadership, and a true leader must rally his or her troops to be effective.

As commandant, Zukunft strived for a strategically focused Coast Guard, ready to not only protect the American people at sea and in our homeland but help them in any situation. He used an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to tackle the challenges facing the service and the Department of Homeland Security.

Under his command, the Coast Guard saved more than 12,000 Americans during the 2017 hurricane season, many of whom had their homes and livelihoods destroyed. During this time, Coast Guard men and women operated in areas where the service is not usually seen. But through his leadership, they helped restore the hurricane-stricken areas back to working condition. In addition, it is through Zukunft’s efforts that Congress provided the service with enough resources to help rebuild its own homes and facilities affected by the hurricanes.

During his tenure as commandant, he strived to build up the government and the public’s trust and confidence in the Coast Guard. Under his watch, it received clean financial audit opinions reinforcing his leadership in utilization of government resources. Thanks to his tireless efforts and outreach to Congress, the service received record-breaking funding for 2018. Zukunft was fond of stating that the Coast Guard prides itself as a service that punches above its weight class and that its funding needs to reflect the power of its punch.

The Navy League recognized his years of service during the Sea-Air-Space Exposition’s Maritime Gala in April, where Zukunft received the inaugural Semper Paratus award, an honor given to government leaders who exemplify the Coast Guard ethos of honor, respect and devotion to duty.

Adm. Schultz is more than capable of carrying the torch for the Coast Guard, steering the service so it can work to gain the $750 million for a new heavy icebreaker and recapitalize its infrastructure.

I’m sure if you asked either of these men what makes these accomplishments and goals attainable, it would be the men and women who work to push the mission of the Coast Guard every day. And the same is true for the Navy League of the United States.

Our National Convention in Portland, Oregon, was a resounding success because of the input of each of our members and attendees, particularly the Portland Council, who were so thoughtful and dedicated with their support this year. Each session provided our members the chance to engage in person, revitalizing our commitment to each other and allowing us all to work as a team, whether it was through our committees, training sessions, our awards luncheons or even our social events.

This year’s Fireside Chat session, where any member could ask a question or discuss a topic, was a par­ti­cular highlight for me. It showed that every one of us is focused on how to make the Navy League just a little bit better.

That drive is certain to propel our mission to new heights and serves as a wonderful reminder that we are supporting our sea services — all of which have a legacy of leadership and teamwork — with leadership and teamwork of our own.

One Team — Mission Focused

Elevating Our Support of Sea Service Families
Friday, October 19, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Supporting the men and women who serve in our military is at the crux of the Navy League’s mission — but so too must be supporting their families. The sacrifice that our sea service personnel make is prominent in the public’s eye. They are on the front page of the paper during war time. We see them in uniform around bases, ports and in our communities. And their needs are a priority for our lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

But the duty and sacrifice of their spouses and families, while less visible in the public sphere, is no less deserving of our attention.

A 2017 U.S. Chamber of Commerce study highlighting the employment challenges of these unsung heroes estimates that between 20 and 25 percent of military spouses are unemployed, and underemployment may be as high as 35 to 40 percent. At a time where the majority of American families are dependent on two incomes, we are asking our military families to improvise on how they can do more with less.

The challenges these families face doesn’t stop at employment. With each move comes the weight of making a new house a home, often in remote areas without the support structure of a military base and with a civilian community that may not understand the requirements of service life. There is the challenging task of transitioning their children into new schools and the onus of finding a new social network — only to have to do all this work again with the next move.

Our first-ever sea services spouse panel, held at this year’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, highlighted just how much flexibility and ingenuity is required to be married to the military. The spouses who spoke exemplified what it means to be a military spouse, and their service deserves to be recognized. They sacrifice so much and expect so little in return.

Some, like Fran DeNinno Zukunft, wife of Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft, were able to telecommute as their families moved from base to base. Even with this stability, there are big family challenges and sacrifices as a result of the constant demands and relocation requirements for the men and women of our sea services. What she said at the panel still resonates with me: “It’s hard to do a good job when you are worried about your kids.”

The best and the brightest of our nation and their families deserve more. Highlighting and fulfilling the needs of the families of our sea service men and women is a core focus of my term as national president and will be an ongoing mission of our Navy League.

I hope each council and member will join me in seeking out new opportunities to help these individuals who are serving our nation just as bravely as their service member spouses.

We must elevate our work as a community to identify key and innovative ways that we can help military families feel at home and at ease, wherever their service members’ jobs take them. Please reach out to me with any initiatives and ideas you have so our Navy League can be at the call of our sea service spouses, ALWAYS.

One Team — Mission Focused

Serving Those Who Serve Others
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

All our Navy League members share a common bond with our sea service men and women. Regardless of our background, we all know what it means to serve the greater good. As national president, I don’t take anything we do for granted. For our more than 200 Navy League councils around the world, I know how hard you work in support of our mission to serve those who selflessly serve others. I am so proud, grateful and thankful for what we do, as a team, daily. Our members and the exceptional work they do at the council level are the heart and soul of our organization.

I frequently take the time to step back and soak in our team’s awe-inspiring accomplishments. It is clear to me that the support each of us gives is often at a big sacrifice. We all take precious time out of our busy lives to devote ourselves to becoming part of a team with a mission, and that team has the power and responsibility to be the independent voice supporting the solutions to challenges facing our Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine services.

Whether it is through our persistent advocacy and education efforts on Capitol Hill, our scholarships and support for our local Sea Cadet or Junior ROTC programs, or by hosting a local event, the members of our Navy League councils play a vital role in shaping our entire organization. It is through them that all the magic happens. It is unique for a civilian organization of our size to actively empower each individual member to make a difference, but that is exactly what we have done for over 115 years, and we should be extremely proud of the phenomenal work we do.

Now that our most successful Sea-Air-Space Exposition has concluded, we shift our focus to our 2018 National Convention in Portland, Oregon, from June 6–9. We will be holding tailored education sessions geared toward empowering our volunteers with the knowledge and tools they need to be their best in an array of areas. Our National Convention serves as an opportunity for each Navy League member — myself included — to deepen our personal portfolio of valuable information. With more tools in our toolbox, we can all be more effective in our mission to serve.

To quote our Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson: “To remain competitive, we must start today, and we must improve faster.” That is exactly how our Navy League is moving forward, and our future is bright. We must start today, and we must improve faster.

I am looking forward to seeing and spending time with you at our National Convention as we continue our commitment to move ahead together as one team — mission focused. Please always know that being a part of the Navy League family means that you are part of a group that is laser-focused on its goals, and together we can accomplish anything. I am so grateful and thankful for each of you and the mission we all so proudly serve. Thank you, to all of you, for your selfless service.

One Team — Mission Focused

A Priceless Experience
Monday, October 15, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Every time I walk the floor at Sea-Air-Space, I am amazed and so proud of all the connections I see being made. There is no other exposition that brings together three different government agencies (the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Transportation), all four sea services and visitors from over 30 countries.

We also have a wide range of exhibitors — from small, family owned companies to billion-dollar corporations that employ populations the size of small towns. Industry executives exchange ideas with public servants; service members from allied countries meet each other; and everyone walks away with new information, new contacts and new ways of seeing the world. Though attendance is free, the experience is priceless.

Being there in person is unlike anything else. Chance encounters with people on the show floor or at a panel presentation can lead to new business opportunities, mentoring relationships and much more. We even know of two people who met at a table at the Sea-Air-Space banquet and developed such a strong friendship that one officiated the other’s wedding.

Seeing so many people with different backgrounds, all with a passion for our nation’s sea services, in one place is heartening. It reinforces that we are one team acting with dedication and purpose to make magic happen.

The sea services, our corporate partners, academic experts and our allies around the world are all working together to make the world a safer place. We are pulling together with the same goal of facilitating global peace and prosperity. Seeing so many united toward this common goal is inspiring.

Attending Sea-Air-Space every year is a great opportunity to marvel at the technological advancements our corporate partners are making on behalf of the nation’s sea services. We’ve added an entire new exposition hall, featuring more innovations than ever before. We will have four boats in the harbor, additional live demonstrations with remotely operated vehicles, landings by three Marine Corps helicopters and a mobile demonstration trailer featuring the latest simulation training. These innovators are on the cutting edge of technology and are pushing our country to new frontiers.

But what I am most proud of is how this event brings people together and reminds us that we are one team with a common mission. Even those unable to attend in person can be a part of the team by following real-time news on the Seapower website and engaging with us on social media. I hope you feel as inspired as I do after watching, listening and learning from all of our partners, domestic and international.

To quote our Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson: “Our Navy team is fueled by integrity, creativity and toughness. Together we are greater than the sum of our individual parts. Together, we are ready to fight and win at sea. It is because of this teamwork, fused together by common bonds of honor, courage and commitment, that we will continue to be the greatest Navy in the world.”

Consistent with this great leader’s quote, this is what our Navy League and Sea-Air-Space are proud to be all about.

One Team — Mission Focused

Making a Difference
Friday, October 12, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Over the last several months, I have been consistently asked the same question by family, colleagues and friends: How can someone with a young family, in the prime of his profession, put everything on hold to volunteer as the national president of the Navy League of the United States? This may seem like a complicated question, but to me, it is simple — just as the decision to serve was for the service members we profile in this issue.

It is about giving back and making a difference. I know my late father-in-law, who devoted his life to serving his country, is looking down on his family with pride. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, worked for the National Security Agency, served as assistant general counsel at the Drug Enforcement Agency and was a district commodore in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. This is the choice my family makes every day — service and devotion to something bigger.

Being part of a team that gives back in support to those who protect us and our freedom is an honor for all of us at the Navy League. Serving as national president has provided an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the well-being of our nation’s sea services and their families. My hope is that my children will be proud when they look back one day at how their father served others.

It has been my privilege to work with and meet many of our sea service advocates and leaders, each one of them a profile in service and leadership. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer is passionate about his priorities, which center on people, capabilities and processes. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson delivered a speech at Sea-Air-Space 2017 about how important it is to lead your team to learn, compete and win with a consistent sense of urgency.

I am inspired by other great leaders, including Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, Rep. John Garamendi, Sen. Roger Wicker, Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Coffman, Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ship Programs Gloria Valdez, and their capacity to serve others and put people first. With them at the helm, we know that the men and women of our sea services are in the most capable of hands.

I have also been humbled by the service of our Navy League members, especially when more than 70 stormed Capitol Hill in November and delivered a message to more than 210 offices in support of the sea services. Our team is always ready to answer the call.

Our corporate members have also provided strong leadership. My discussions with Dr. Jack London of CACI International Inc. on character have been valuable in shaping my understanding of service. This former naval aviator reinforces the importance of conducting business with character.

His statement of success resonates with me: “Character will determine how far you will go and if you will succeed or fail.” This type of commitment to character and service from our corporate and individual members has preserved the Navy League’s 115-year reputation as the voice of the sea services.

These are times of rapid, high-velocity change that require character and a commitment to service. It is my honor and privilege to lead our organization. Together, as a team operating with urgency and character, we will win and continue to do great things in support of our mission.

One Team — Mission Focused.

Answering the Call
Monday, October 08, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Our Navy League team is phenomenal. What we accomplish every day in support of our mission is incredible — we help Marines collect Toys for Tots, we donate to sea service victims of natural disasters, we honor veterans in their communities, we welcome home our Sailors and a lot more. We experienced true devotion first-hand when, last November, more than 70 Navy Leaguers descended on Capitol Hill, as dedicated volunteers at their personal expense, to educate and advocate for our sea services and their families.

We traveled from as far as Hawaii to speak out. All regions of our country were represented, from Washington and California to New Hampshire and Florida, as we came together as a team.

We had much to talk about. A series of devastating accidents in the U.S. Seventh Fleet, a Coast Guard overextended after its all-hands-on-deck hurricane response and threats to the Jones Act gave our members a great sense of urgency. We answered the call.

We researched the issues, practiced our presentations and put on our walking shoes, visiting and educating 210 Congressional offices in a single day. The financial and time sacrifices are our way of giving back to those who give so much to us — we see it as our duty and obligation as Navy League members and concerned citizens to educate and advocate to Congress on behalf of our Sailors and their families.

We had major requests for each sea service, including growing the Navy’s fleet, improving the Marine Corps’ deployment-to-dwell ratio, recapi­talizing the Coast Guard fleet, and protecting the laws and programs that support our U.S.-flag Merchant Marine fleet. Above all, we vigorously advocated for getting rid of the Budget Control Act and providing the sea services with budget stability instead of lurching from continuing resolution to continuing resolution, which makes consistent future planning all but impossible.

We were tired at the end of the day, with some of our teams providing 10 Congressional briefings in just a few hours, but so proud of what we accomplished. We stood up for the needs of stronger sea services, especially the need for budget stability. We gained valuable insights into what various Congress members think about these issues. Every time we talk to leaders about how much our sea services do for us, we gain new supporters. It highlights how important our education and advocacy missions truly are — it helps us grow sea service champions.

It is with pride that we present Seapower’s 2018 Almanac. This publication is a valuable reference tool for Congress and their staffs, military leaders, defense industry executives and sea service personnel around the world. Not only that, it is a useful tool for our members as they continue their education and advocacy efforts beyond last November, meeting with members of Congress in their local district offices, and writing and calling daily to ensure our political leaders keep the needs of our sea services and their families as a top priority. In these pages, you’ll see exactly what we are advocating for, and learn more about the ways industry and the sea services are working together to develop the technology and resources that will best fit our sea services, and help them to fight and win.

I am so proud of our devoted Navy League team!

One Team — Mission Focused