As members of the military, we all make an oath to protect our nation from enemies, "both foreign and domestic." However, the military profession binds its members to many other roles. We are civil servants and members of a tax-funded organization that puts its members in an exceptional position to go above and beyond for their community. Communities and sailors alike benefit from such programs, whether parks are being cleaned up, new trees are planted, or sailors are helping out those in need.
For sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), serving their local community can benefit them personally and professionally.
Operations Specialist 1st Class Kyle Novak is one such sailor. For him, giving back to his community has become a huge part of his life. Novak has logged more than 641 documented hours of community service since joining the Navy.
"I first started getting involved in the community on the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor," said Novak. "I remember kids would come up to me and want to take pictures with me in my dress whites, and veterans would come up to me and thank me for my service. That's what really made me stick with it."
Later throughout Novak's career he continued to give back wherever he could. He spent 360 hours establishing the first United Service Organization (USO) in Iraq, and continued to take sailors out to community relations events while stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and while stationed on Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Today, Novak is heavily involved with planning and implementing community relations events that bring Nimitz sailors and veterans from Retsil Washington Veterans Home together.
Nimitz sailors have many options when it comes to giving back to their community.
"I don't really mind going out and picking up garbage or planting trees in parks, but I definitely prefer going out to the community and working with people," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Davarihan Alonzo. "Like what we've been doing lately, coming out to the VA home and spending time with the veterans. Some of them lighten up when we come and it just feels good."
Seeing the impact a sailor can make on their community can also leave a positive impression on civilians. It's also a great way to show the community one of the Navy's oldest traditions, teamwork.
"Teamwork is a tradition, and also one of the most important aspects to what we do on the ship. What's even better is getting groups of sailors together to support the community to send a great message to the people around us. It gives us the chance to show them what we can do when we work as a team," said Novak.
Community outreach options are all around, whether it be through organized functions put together by Nimitz members, or opportunities found while surfing the web. No sailor needs to give everything to their community, but every sailor can give something.