GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Recruits joined other Sailors in donning the Navy working uniform (NWU), April 30, as Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, began introducing the uniform to incoming recruits.
"I'm so excited," said Seaman Recruit Cassandra Araujo, 19, from Redlands, Calif., among the first group of female recruits to be issued the uniform.
"I was a cadet [with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps] in high school, so I have experience wearing dungarees and utilities. There is so much pride that comes with wearing this new uniform. Not only does it show the world I am a part of the Navy, but I think it will increase how the world sees the Navy."
Seaman Recruit Raymond Garvey, 25, from Brooklyn, N.Y., agreed.
"This uniform will give the Navy more respect. It is a more assertive look, and it commands authority."
"Wearing this will show the world that Sailors do more than drive ships and subs. We are involved in combat operations as well, and now our uniforms reflect a more military-like appearance," said Seaman Recruit Rodney Shaw, Jr., 19, from Port Huron, Mich.
Recruit division commanders (RDCs) explained the uniform change is a positive development for recruits.
"The previous recruit uniform was not the best for them. Buttons would pop off frequently, and they needed to be ironed. These uniforms are more rugged, durable and better quality. They are low-maintenance and will hold up better to the demands of training and working," said Chief Engineman (SW) Andrew Hochgraver.
"Uniforms have historically mirrored our surroundings. These uniforms show that the Navy has evolved and will continue to develop."
RDCs will continue to wear their service uniforms, but technical training staff, including the simulated small arms training (SAM-T) and seamanship staff, will wear the new Navy working uniform. Despite not wearing it themselves, RDCs were briefed on the proper way to wear and care for the new uniform.
"RDCs were given full training on proper wear and care of the uniform, and the Navy has made available several resources to help us teach the recruits. As an RDC, I am responsible for keeping up with the latest changes, and I am prepared to mentor the recruits regarding how and when to wear the new uniform," Hochgraver said.
Other commands should be aware of special considerations regarding recruits wearing the new uniform as they leave boot camp and go on to their advanced training, and eventually, the fleet.
Because it is not possible to outfit every Sailor with the new uniform at the same time, the Navy has developed a two-year roll-out plan for the uniform separated by geographic region. Every Sailor will don the new uniform no later than December 2010.
Recruits who were issued the new uniform at boot camp may go on to train or join the fleet in an area of the world not already wearing the new uniform.
"These recruits will have the privilege of being among the first in some regions to wear the new uniform and will be a model for their new shipmates in the proper wear and care of the uniform," said Cmdr. Caroline Nielson, military training director at RTC.
As the Navy makes this transition over the next two years, commands will need to be prepared to educate and support any new Sailors coming in that may not have been issued the new uniform while in boot camp.
"Sailors graduating from boot camp through June 12 were issued utilities. These Sailors will be going on to advanced training and reporting out to the fleet. It will be very beneficial for these Sailors' new commands to reach out to them before and during check-in to be sure they receive appropriate uniform allowances and are able to obtain the new uniform," Nielson said.
Recruits at RTC recognize the historical significance of being among the first to wear the new uniform and the advancement for the Navy they represent.
"We are serving in the same branch as John F. Kennedy and John McCain, and these uniforms will show the world how proud we are to serve as Sailors in the greatest Navy in the world," Garvey said.
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.