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Jason Kiritschenko, a Navy Reserve Operation Specialist, started his 24 year long journey on active duty in the United States Navy. A boot camp honor recruit and the top of his class during "A" School, he set himself up for his pick of orders. He wanted to go big and there wasn’t anything bigger than the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73).
“I enjoy being an OS,” said Kiritschenko. “Operations, exercises, deployments and being out to sea. We track everything in a 32 mile radius from ship and give recommendations directly to the Captain. It’s an important job that keeps the entire ship out of harm’s way.”
After his first tour neared its end he had thoughts of leaving the military but then found himself off the coast of New York after the 9/11 attacks supporting the defense of New York City. His sense of service to his country had been solidified by the current events, however now married his priorities shifted. This shift presented an opportunity to pursue a passion to serve in law enforcement.
“If I wasn’t married I would have stayed active duty but I also wanted to go to school for law enforcement,” said Kiritschenko. “My goal was to join the military for school and eventually become a police officer. Initially when I joined I wanted to be a pilot, but it didn’t really work out that way and in the end I got to do what I truly wanted.”
He knew he still wanted to serve in the military but also follow a calling to law enforcement, so he finished his four year active duty contract and went immediately into the Navy Reserve in 2001. From there, while serving in the reserves he studied at Inver Hills Community College where he earned his associate in applied science degree in law enforcement. He accomplished his goal and was hired as a Minneapolis police officer in 2008.
Since joining the military, whether active or reserve and now a police officer, his careers have had a constant theme, “emergency response”. He was on station for the 9/11 attacks, the humanitarian efforts during the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011, and in Guam as part of a quick response team for 101 days during the COVID-19 pandemic supporting USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
Both as an OS and as a police officer he is able to draw on training and experience of both jobs.
“Part of my job as a police officer is incident commander. Being first on scene coordinating the response during initial chaos of an incident can be challenging,” said Kiritschenko. “At the time of the COVID outbreak I was deployed to help support the TR in Guam. It was difficult as a Minneapolis police officer as I had to watch my city burn from afar during the riots, but I knew I was also needed where I was.”
Currently attached to Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ) as the Senior Enlisted Leader, Operations Specialist Senior Chief Kiritschenko oversees 177 Sailors spread across the country. He works out of the Regional Operational Center (ROC), coordinating emergency management and response to natural disasters providing humanitarian aid.
“I love Japan’s people, food and culture so it’s great being a reservist,” said Kiritschenko. “I’m able to serve my community here in Minneapolis as a police officer, a job I love, and still travel regularly to Japan to support my active duty counterparts and my country.”
The reserves provide a crucial role in the support of the active duty Navy.
“If there was a war and we need to protect our nation, the reserves are here to help support and supplement our countries forces,” said Kiritschenko.
Kiritschenko plans to retire from the military in October of 2023. When people ask why he continued to serve all these years as a reservist, even though he is a full time police officer, he responds with “I do it for the safety and security of the people of this city, just like in the Navy, we protect the people that cannot protect themselves.”
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