NOW HEAR THIS! NOW HEAR THIS!
Into my second year in this position and I have managed to complete my first round of visits to the District Base. During my visits I passed along the information on the status of the submarine force based on a Naval Submarine League presentation and discussed district health, i.e., the base membership status and other information relative to base activities inside the district. Overall the district membership levels have increased, with that number being carried by the Hampton Roads Base which had an increase of around 18. The rest of the district base’s membership levels have remained roughly the same or decreased. As always recruiting is a major concern, the age of our base membership can be tracked by the number of Holland Club members each base has. As stated the number of Holland Club members as a percentage of base membership is 40-60% and it is increasing. So recruiting is an important aspect of each base’s activities. Hampton Roads base in located in a target rich environment, Norfolk, so the rest of us have got to figure out a way to get visibility, locate submarine veterans and get them to join. Ah that is the crux of this whole issue; visibility first, identification of submarine veterans, then give them a reason to want to join-be a part of the base.
Each base needs to review their activities against the creed to find a way to overcome the “crux” of our recruiting dilemma. Our creed states: “Our purpose is “To perpetuate the memory of our shipmates who gave their lives in the pursuit of their duties while serving their country.” The first paragraph lays out the primary purpose for organization. Paragraph’s 2 & 3 provide additional aspects of meeting this goal; “In addition to perpetuating the memory of departed shipmates, we shall provide a way for all Submariners to gather for the mutual benefit and enjoyment.” Here each base needs to identify the activities that they believe are mutually beneficial and enjoyable; several bases have picnics, their dinners have pot-luck dinners as part of the meeting agenda or a catered lunch of pizzas, etc. This adds to the camaraderie of the base members and can be part of the reason for new members to join. The 3rd paragraph: “The organization will engage in various projects and deeds that will bring about the perpetual remembrance of those shipmates who have given the supreme sacrifice. The organization will also endeavor to educate all third parties it comes in contact with about the services our submarine brothers performed and how their sacrifices made possible the freedom and lifestyle we enjoy today,” provides the requirement to engage in vehicles that will get the USSVI visibility as wells as the submarine force to not only spark interest in being a member of USSVI and a base, but for younger members an interest in serving in the submarine force.
My children lived Navy, they lived submarines because I was a 29 year veteran of the submarine force, this eventually led to my son enlisting and his volunteering for submarines. He has completed two boat tours 3 years on USS KENTUCKY GOLD and three years on USS SCRANTON including a deployment to the “sand box”. He is finishing up his shore duty tour now and cannot wait to get back to the boats. He wants career as a submariner. He was easy he was soaked in submarine history and service, real life service. How do we get a measure of this immersion for kids and adults that know nothing about submarines and submarine service? Especially in areas far removed from a Naval Base: Boy Scouts, school programs; lectures on naval service and submarines, flag educate; color guards (Carolina Piedmont) for sporting events; parade participation; caps for kids, assist with veterans organizations; lectures at various organizations (I have made presentations to Knights of Columbus, and the Duke University Continuing Education Program) etc. We need to identify the vehicle to meet the requirements of paragraphs 2 and 3, which will also high light the creed and why the USSVI exists.
So as I start my second year as the district commander, these are the things I will be discussing when I start my second round of base visit. The goal for me is to try and bring the vehicles used by other bases to reach each base I visit and share them will you for your bases consideration. Ahead of my visits I would like each base (commander, POC) or any base member to send them the information on the vehicles that have produced recruiting results and brought to the publics attention the sacrifices of the submariners and the submarine service.
February 9th, I attended and as District Commander participated in the COMSUBLANT Sailor of the Year Program, second time. This is one of those vehicles that brings the USSVI to the attention of the active submarine force and in this instance brought the potential for new members from the COMSUBLANT staff involved in attending or supported the planning of the SOY Event (two Chief Petty Officers who did not know they could join the base now – not wait to retirement). So this event even with its difficulties pulling off for the USSVI provided benefits for recruiting and attaining visibility our existence and to the reason for our existence. The young SOY sailors I talked to had no idea for example, the level of accomplishment and sacrifice that our WWII boat made and we did not even address the level of affect of submarines in winning the cold war. Real life examples of a vehicle from paragraphs 2 and 3 of the creed that provided positive results in recruiting and visibility! So BRAVO ZULU to the Hampton Roads base who always is the major supporter of this yearly event.
My next statement directly addresses another aspect of base operations; member involvement. We need members to step up and run for the four major elective base offices; Commander, Vice Commander, Treasurer and Secretary. We also need members to step up and volunteer for nominated positions in the base, COB, etc. The leadership of our bases (all of our bases) are running on multiple tours. It is incumbent on members to step forward to not only relieve the present leadership of their work load- give then a break – but to bring in fresh ideas, observations of events and activities of the base. Last item, if anyone would like inform all district one members – that the position of District Commander will be up for election this October, so please step up give it a try. Lots of opportunity for travel within the district.