Sunday, September 26, 2010

Navy Volunteer!... But Why?

by Bill Doughty

Thousands of Sailors volunteer to read to students at schools throughout the United States. Service members, Navy civilians and families volunteer to work at community service projects to help the environment, prevent drug abuse and assist people in need.


Thomas Jefferson saw charitable giving of time and resources as part of responsible citizenship and good morality. In his 1786 letter to Maria Cosway, “Dialog Between My Head & My Heart,” Jefferson wrote:

And what more sublime delight than to mingle tears with one whom the hand of heaven hath smitten! To watch over the bed of sickness, & to beguile its tedious & its painful moments! To share our bread with one to whom misfortune has left none! This world abounds indeed with misery: to lighten its burthen we must divide it with one another.

Evolutionary biologists, anthropologists and sociologists may explain the benefits of volunteering in scientific terms -- altruism has its roots in survival of the species through natural selection. Those who cooperate and collaborate increase their chances for survival by being able to more effectively feed and defend their families.

In practical terms, Sailors today who volunteer in their communities are more likely to achieve success in their careers. The Sailor benefits and so does the Navy and society, in general.

(Aug. 17, 2010) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) pick up trash at the Virginia Zoological Park during the ship's "1,000 Points of Light" community service event. Nearly 2,000 George H.W. Bush Sailors volunteered at approximately 100 different locations around the Hampton Roads area. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric S. Garst/Released)

Last week the Navy Community Service Program council met in Washington, D.C. to evaluate the effects of Navy Volunteer efforts in communities nationwide.

The council looked at ways to streamline the annual volunteer awards program and clarify instructions and processes.

As part of the annual meeting, the council attended a welcoming ceremony hosted by CNO Adm. Gary Roughead for the CNO’s Indian Navy counterpart, Adm. Nirmal Kumar Verma. The CNO spoke of the importance of the strategic partnership with the Indian Navy and the importance of working together toward increased interoperability.

The U.S. and Indian navies worked together in the exercise Malabar 2010, training together as friends and maritime allies.

The strategic importance of volunteering and working together -- whether globally or locally -- is a key theme in the Navy’s mission, outlined in the Maritime Strategy and Commanders’ goals, where preventing war is better than fighting war.

Another highlight for the council was visiting the headquarters of the Navy's Ceremonial Guard. Check out this performance of the guard being shared on line:

In my next blog post I’ll review The Art of the Long View -- Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World by Peter Schwartz, who discusses scenarios for predicting and adapting to change. Schwartz supports the idea of collaborating in an ever-more diverse and integrated society.

Schwartz writes:

The world needs a framework of new international institutions -- a new global commons -- to coordinate people worldwide and help resolve conflicts over resources like oil and territory, or the impact of pollution on a country’s neighbors. The rich and the free need to assure the poor and repressed that they, too, can have a realistic sense of hope for the future -- that the gulf between the top and bottom does not widen so much that we who are well off find ourselves living at the expense of a desperate and angry mass.

More on his perspective next week...


(Aug. 21, 2010) Lt. j.g. Michael Anderson, command chaplain at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, plays with a child from Fujisawa City's Misono Orphanage during a community relations event sponsored by the hospital and the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63). More than 70 children were transported onboard Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka for a day of bowling, playing in the park and an American style barbecue with more than 100 command volunteers. (U.S. Navy photo by Ben Avey/Released)

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