USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) are working to help female service members by promoting the Women at Sea (WAS) program while on deployment in the Western Pacific.
Women at Sea is a program that serves as an informal forum for female Sailors and Marines to share experiences and address issues that may arise while at sea.
Ensign Roberta Becker said that the monthly meetings have covered topics such as personal safety on and off the ship, berthing etiquette, and personal and professional development.
"Having a positive environment to turn to when experiencing something as stressful as shipboard life is vital to a person's well-being," said Becker. "The WAS program allows females to grow both personally and professionally in a well-rounded and supportive way."
A major theme of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative is equipping Sailors, Marines and their families to meet the challenges of a military career. Programs like Women at Sea support this initiative by providing opportunities for meaningful and valued work across a career whether in the military or later in the civilian workforce.
Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Misty Rambo said that she wanted to help bring the program aboard because she felt it would be especially beneficial for Sailors and Marines who had not deployed before.
"We wanted to give them a perspective on what to expect on deployment, to minimize the culture shock and to ensure we set them up for success," said Rambo.
Becker said that while the meetings are held on a monthly basis, the mentorship that the program fosters continues year round.
"Mentorship is beneficial to junior Sailors and leaders," said Rambo. "It allows junior Sailors to voice their concerns and ideas in a nonjudgmental environment and enables leaders the opportunity to share their experiences and keep a pulse on the needs and concerns of those who will one day be our relief, whether in the Wardroom or the Chiefs Mess."
Programs like Women at Sea ensure the Navy not only helps Sailors grow in their personal and professional lives, but also sets them up for success in their Navy careers.
"The program helps encourage women aboard to become skilled leaders and accomplished Sailors," said Becker.
While the Navy has a long history, women have only served aboard warships since the repeal of the Combat Exclusion Law in 1994.
"This program will hopefully reinforce the pride and appreciation for those (women) who have paved the way for us to be able to serve alongside our brethren," said Rambo.
Female Sailors and Marines who are interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to attend the meetings, which are posted in the ship's plan of the day.
Bonhomme Richard, commanded by Capt. Daniel Dusek, is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed amphibious ready group and is currently operating in the 7th Fleet Area of Operations.
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