Carl Vinson Sailors Help Hospital Patients 'Deck the Halls'


Story Number: NNS081126-12Release Date: 11/26/2008 7:32:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Candice Villarreal, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- A group of Sailors assigned to USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) helped decorate the Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Nov. 14 and prepare it aesthetically for this year's holiday season.

The crew members offered to help out at the facility as part of an ongoing community relations (COMREL) campaign aimed at utilizing Sailors' good will and volunteer hours to benefit the local community.

"It has become almost a tradition for Carl Vinson to come out and help us decorate everything," said Tamera Ferguson, director of volunteer services at the hospital. "I don't know what Lake Taylor is going to do when the ship goes back out to sea."

At the hospital, Sailors stood up and decorated artificial Christmas trees for patients to enjoy, including Lake Taylor's 2008 Love Light Tree, which serves as a memorial in remembrance of lost friends and loved ones for both the patients and hospital staff.

The "Gold Eagle" crew also hung wreaths throughout the facility, constructed a large holiday-themed display in a common area, and pieced together the hospital's lake nativity scene, in addition to bringing a little holiday cheer.

"I think a lot of us just really enjoy helping other people out when we can, especially during holiday seasons," said Storekeeper 3rd Class Veronaka Evans. "One of these days we may need help, too. Plus, it's really great to be able to see their faces light up. It's exciting."

Carl Vinson participates in numerous COMREL projects year-round, donating thousands of man-hours to the Hampton Roads area annually. The ship's Religious Ministries Department (RMD) has continuously augmented its robust COMREL organization program since the aircraft carrier entered its refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) shipyard period in late 2005.

"It's very comforting for these patients to see that there are people who want to come help make their time here a little brighter," said Ferguson. "The holidays can be difficult for anyone, especially when they're not feeling well. Plus, many of our patients are veterans, so they really like to see military members out here helping."

Carl Vinson is undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.

During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.

For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.

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