The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said "Nothing is permanent, but change," and mid-19th century writer Arnold Bennett said "Any change, even for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."
In September, the Navy announced a move to help modernize enlisted rating titles and establish a classification system similar to other branches of the military. This change was met with criticism by some, but with optimism by others.
For Petty Officer 1st Class John F. Singleton, a career counselor at Afloat Training Group Middle Pacific (ATGMIDPAC), he understood how diversifying enlisted skill sets would benefit the Navy because he realized this need on a personal level prior to the modernization announcement.
"Once I was selected to come here to ATG and I found out I was coming here as a career counselor, I looked at more of the fact that all my fellow peers are assessors ... to be competitive, I felt like I needed to step out of being just that career counselor and get out there and try new things," he said. "I started this once I got on board."
To complement his billeted position as a career counselor, Singleton became qualified to act as both a damage control assessor and Maintenance and Material Management (3M) assessor. As such, he no longer performs a large percentage of his job behind a desk, but goes to ships and personally has a stake in ensuring Sailors are trained and proficient in keeping their ship afloat - both from a maintainer's standpoint and in the event of an on-board casualty.
"When we are on that ship it's to make sure they have the tools, the right instructions, the right information that they need to get certified and to be safe out there, and be ready for deployment at any time," said Singleton.
As if that weren't enough, he also chose to take on the duties of sponsor coordinator, indoctrination coordinator, and assistant personnel security manager.
For him it all comes down to being a Sailor first, supporting the overall team dynamic the Navy must have in order to be effective, and not letting a job title define what a Sailor does to support the mission and better oneself.
"I loved coming to work as a yeoman, but I think after looking at it now it doesn't define who we are," said Singleton. "We are Sailors no matter what ... we define who we are. It's something we've been doing for years, even before we changed the ratings to NOS (Navy occupational specialties)."