NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- For one chief aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) the opportunity to guide young adults toward lifelong success was made possible by his decision to join the Navy and eventually the career counselor rate.
"There's not an 18-year-old person anywhere that can get a job with 30 days of paid vacation, free medical, and dental benefits," said Chief Navy Career Counselor (SW/AW) Jeffrey Sabia. "The Navy isn't bad. It is true that family or life-altering events can make things harder at times, but it's not the average nine-to-five job, and that's the price we pay."
He enlisted in the Navy from his hometown of Hazleton, Penn. in September of 1985, at the age of 17. His interest in air conditioning and refrigeration led him to choose the machinist's mate (MM) rating, and his naval career had officially begun.
Sabia went from his first sea duty assignment aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) to recruiting duty in Asheville, N.C. It was during that time that he found himself working with many young men and women, where he would counsel them about potential career opportunities in the Navy.
"I believed in the Navy and what it had to offer, so I was just relaying the message truthfully," said Sabia.
Following his shore tour, he returned to sea aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), where the ship's Engineering department just happened to be in need of a career counselor. Sabia jumped at the opportunity and volunteered.
While already assuming a pivotal role as an engineer and standing eight to 12 hour watches each day, Sabia still found time to become a successful career counselor for his shipmates. Finally, in 1998, Sabia put in a conversion package to transfer into the Navy career counselor (NC) rating, just before his move to USS La Salle (AFG 3), the 6th Fleet flagship, which was stationed in Italy at the time.
Sabia said he soon found himself overwhelmed as the only career counselor at the duty station. With some hard work, a genuine love for his job, and a little dedication, he managed to turn the overwhelming situation around and helped the command receive the Navy's Retention Excellence Award for eight consecutive quarters. Through Sabia's efforts, the command's retention rate jumped to a remarkable 78 percent.
In 2001, Sabia transferred to the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn., where he counseled and assisted 700 Sailors assigned to more than 17 submarines. "I was able to see a different side of the Navy in the sub community and assist with those career paths," said Sabia. "That proved to be educational for me."
In 2005, Sabia was promoted to chief petty officer and received a new set of PCS orders, and he brought his wisdom and desire to help Sailors with him when he joined the Carl Vinson career counseling team.
Aboard the "Gold Eagle," Sabia said he tries to encourage Sailors to be successful by making sure they are coming to work on time, are in a squared away uniform, and ready to do what is asked of them.
"I realized early on that this job is pretty easy, and a lot of Sailors don't realize the importance of our job security in the Navy," said Sabia. "At any moment in the civilian world, you could be jobless."
According to Sabia, maturity, advanced schooling, and personal growth through experiencing a diversity of assignments and tasks are among the many career milestones that have helped make him a more well-rounded Navy professional and Sailor.
"Where ever you go, we are part of what will be written in history books," Sabia said. "Why wouldn't I want to be a part of something so important?"
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.