Monday, August 29, 2011

Officer Development School

Previous class mural
"Up in the mornin' with the Newport sun...
We gonna run all day 'til the runnin's done..."

I've spent the last five weeks at Officer Training Command, Newport, RI in Officer Development School (ODS). All Navy Staff Corps officers have to go to ODS, so it was the next step for me after finishing nursing school. I heard a lot of different opinions about ODS before going from people who had been a long time ago all the way up to people who graduated in the class right before mine. The opinions ranged from the school being incredibly hard to being a waste of time for prior enlisted Sailors. Fortunately, I can form my own opinions about things without letting someone else's opinion affect my experience.

Sierra Company Guidon
ODS actually ended up being really great for me. I learned a lot, but more importantly to me, I met some really great people and had a blast with them living in a non-air conditioned building for five weeks. I was one of seven prior enlisted officers in Sierra Company. My roommate, David, was also prior enlisted and has been in the Navy for 14 years. The two of us had a blast waking up at 0400 and playing music for everyone to hear. I couldn't have had a better roommate.

Some of the topics were repetitive to the priors. Things like enlisted service records, pay and benefits, customs and courtesies, and evaluations were a little painful to sit through. But overall, I learned a lot throughout the whole course. Our class Chief and class officer were phenomenal, and we couldn't have asked for better leadership than them.

Five people from Sierra Company will be at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth or in the Norfolk area, so it's really nice to know some people already who will be going through the same things at the same time as me. It's also nice to know people at other hospitals in case there are some cool nursing conferences to go to.

Dinner at the Officer's Club
Newport was a beautiful part of the country. I'm pretty sure that's the farthest north I've ever been. Aside from the fact that our barracks had no AC and we had drill outside during the hottest parts of the day, the weather was really great. We didn't get much rain at all, and the base is right on the water. Tons of boats in Newport Harbor and docked at the Officer's Club on base. It's a much different environment on the coast. Everyone sails up there. It's not something I'm used to. And even though it's been a big transition for me to go from an all Marine Corps environment to an all civilian environment to this new Navy environment, I really enjoy the all Navy part of it. I'd like to work with the Marine Corps again someday, but for now, I need to get acquainted with my own branch, its traditions, and what it has to offer.

My crew in front of the
USS Constitution
Guns on the gundeck
of theUSS Constitution
Each consecutive weekend during ODS, we were afforded a little more liberty than the weekend before. The first weekend, we were confined to our barracks, a gym, and the track. The second weekend, we were able to go anywhere on base as long as we were wearing our khakis. The third weekend, we had liberty confined to the island as long as we were in our summer whites. The fourth weekend, we had liberty within a 100 mile radius of the base. This is called "The Boston Weekend" because most everyone goes to Boston. The fifth weekend was graduation.

Family at the USS Constitution
One of the highlights of the Boston weekend was going to the USS Constitution. The Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. "World's" because there is no older commissioned ship afloat in any country's Navy. "Oldest" because she was commissioned in 1797 and was the third of the six original frigates built by the US Navy. Commissioned because she is still an active, functioning ship. "Warship" because she is a 44 gun fighting ship. "Afloat" because she still leaves the harbor between six and eight times a year. There is an older ship than the USS Constitution. The HMS Victory is older by 30 years, but she is dry docked in Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom. Also interesting to note, she has never been defeated in 214 years of service. When Christy and my family came up for graduation, we went back to the Constitution. It was really neat. I actually went a total of three times and really enjoyed it each time. I think my family enjoyed it too.

Status of the Navy: 25 AUG 2011
Every single person that I met through ODS was really great. It's good to have a network of officers around the country and around the world that I can bounce questions off of and use as a resource if I need to. Being one of 53,502 officers is a huge deal to me. In the entire Navy, that doesn't seem like a whole lot to me. After hearing some of the stories from my ODS shipmates about trying to get into the Navy from civilian life, I realized just how big of a deal it is. Some of them had been trying to get in for two years. The Navy isn't short on nurses anymore because the economy is so bad, so lots of civilians are trying to get in. Because of that, MECP students aren't getting three and four times to pass their NCLEX. If they don't pass on the first two times, they get the boot.

Now that ODS is done, I'm hoping to get back to regular blogging. No internet access hinders blogging. Stay tunes for more blogs about running, yoga, and BROOKS!!


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