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Your Career

A New Way to PASS

Sailor creates new way for service members to mentor each other

Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Gloriana Jensen, Naval Information Operations Command, Hawaii had a dilemma. As one of the only senior females on the watch floor, and as the mother of two, she seemed to be bombarded with Sailors seeking pregnancy and parenting advice.

She was a target. An all-knowing, since you are female you should know every childcare and maternity instruction, breast-feeding practice, and anything else woman and parent-related that a Sailor can think of, target.

She knew she had to organize a more formal way for Sailors to get their information. That's when she developed the Parent and Sailor Support (PASS) program.

When there are questions about body composition assessment (BCA) waivers, they are referred to the Command Fitness Leader; when questions arise about Time in Rate, there is an Educational Services Office, said Jensen. But when a Sailor has questions about starting a family, taking care of a sick child, where to find quality day care or finding a sitter, who do they have to talk to?

That's where the PASS program comes in.

"I began PASS because I could no longer be the single point of contact," said Jensen. "I could help a Sailor out with the information he or she needed, but if I was busy, that Sailor would be left to tread water until I found time to throw another life raft. I also became very disillusioned by how many females felt like starting a family meant saying goodbye to their naval career. I wanted them to know they can balance it all. If a Sailor still chooses to separate, let it be because she wants to, not because she lacked the support and the knowledge to have both a career and a child."

"Before PASS was created I would, and still, constantly go to Chief Jensen regarding maternity issues within the Navy and just everyday questions," said Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 3rd Class Casey Thigpen. "She noticed a lot of people were confused about guidance issues and that the Nursing Mother's program at our building wasn't getting a lot of support so she came to me with the idea of starting PASS."

During the planning phase, Jensen came across a Command Advisor on Pregnancy and Parenthood (CAPP) position on the Navy Personnel Command website.

The primary responsibility of the CAPP is to ensure pregnant servicewomen, and servicemen who are expectant fathers, receive proper counseling and guidance in order for the service member to understand their rights, responsibilities, and the opportunities afforded to them as parents in the Navy in order to successfully balance the demands of a naval career with their family plans and responsibilities.

"I read the description and thought, 'Why don't we have one of those?' I knew my PASS program would work as a tool for the CAPP. I spoke to our CMC and dreams turned into reality," said Jensen. "I'll have my own time slot in our command indoctrination to brief CAPP and my PASS meetings.

Peer mentoring is Jensen's real goal with PASS. Suicidal Ideations, DUIs, domestic disputes, depression and other challenges facing leadership were areas where Jensen felt more could be done.

"My answer was peer mentorship," said Jensen. "Offer a place, twice a month, for people with similar interests to get together and ask the questions they need to ask. It's not therapy nor is it 'let's complain to Chief and see what she'll do about it.' Instead it is simply a way to introduce Sailors to others who are going through the same thing. Forge friendships, build trust, improve morale, and most of all have members figure out their own answer to their questions based on peer interaction and mentorship."

Jensen said so far the groups have been a success.

"I feel like we are making a real difference in the lives of Sailors," said Jensen. "It's unfortunate having to walk someone through a divorce or single parenthood but I'm happy to be an avenue of support. I tell them all that I'm not there to provide therapy, legal advice, or take the place of their chain of command. PASS is there so that they know they are not alone."

"For me, this group has been really helpful," said Thigpen. "When you have your first child it somewhat seems like you're the only one going through it all. It's nice to have a group of women and men who are going through the same situation as you. Being in the Navy is especially hard because we don't have the luxury of just quitting. Chief Jensen has been super helpful because at our command a lot is unknown regarding regulations and she's been super helpful with filling that knowledge gap."

"One Sailor told me that her maternity uniform allowance request was kicked back because her Leading Petty Officer (LPO) told her there was no such thing," said Jensen. "Another Sailor had her convalescent leave chit kicked back by her LPO because she didn't have enough leave on the books. This training isn't just for the Sailors; it's for the leadership too."

During one command indoctrination, Jensen gave the CAPP presentation from the NPC website to a group of all males, said Jensen.

"They were wondering how the information applied to them," said Jensen. "However, they are my target audience too. Because one day they will have kids or be in charge of a pregnant Sailor and they need to know the regulations too instead of sending their Sailors to someone else for an answer. I went over the instruction and what women are allowed to do and so on and most of them were taking notes. This program is for everyone."

The following are examples of questions/concerns that Jensen said have been brought to her since starting her PASS program. She added that it has been awesome watching Sailors mentor each other through the group and find support.

1. Sailor's Chief contacts me because he heard about PASS and thinks his Sailor should come. She is pregnant and has been married to a marine for just under a year. Her husband is deployed and will be gone for the birth. At 34 weeks the Sailor needs to be induced and calls Jensen because as expected, her husband is not yet back, but in route. Jensen stays even after the husband arrives at the request of the Sailor and helps deliver the baby!

2. Two Sailors with the same complaint. Their husbands are civilians and unemployed. They have been looking for a job with no luck. After the baby came, they stopped looking for a job because they are taking care of the baby. They are frustrated. The group offered resources, networking opportunities and support.

3. A Sailor calls me at 6 p.m., to tell me she thinks she may have peed on herself. She is 36 weeks pregnant. We talk it out and she goes to the hospital. The baby is born that day.

4. A Sailor just returned from maternity leave and cannot fit in her uniforms. She has the waiver to wear her maternity uniform but feels degraded because people think she is pregnant again. We talk to the group and find ladies willing to donate uniforms for her so she doesn't have to buy new ones.

5. And the biggest thing we deal with - to stay in or get out? It is the question on everyone's minds when they attend a PASS meeting. They feel like they have to sacrifice their careers or they will be labeled as selfish bad mothers. So they get out and go to school while their husbands continue their Navy journey. This is the main reason I believe in PASS. These women need to hear that they can do it. They need to see role models. They need to know that you can be successful in the Navy as a mother.

"That's about it," said Jensen. "Some of the guys rolled their eyes at me and called me a 'hugger' when I first started PASS. But now those same guys call me up when they have Sailors who need help. Funny how that worked out."

The rest of the story:

Things you need to know about starting CAPP at your command:

1. The primary responsibility of the CAPP is to ensure pregnant servicewomen and servicemen who are expectant fathers receive proper counseling and guidance in order for the service member to understand their rights, responsibilities, and the opportunities afforded to them as parents in the Navy to successfully balance the demands of a naval career with their family plans and responsibilities.

2. Commanding Officers are strongly encouraged to establish the collateral duty of a Command Advisor on Pregnancy and Parenthood (CAPP).

3. CAPP expectations include, but are not limited to:

a. Ensuring all service members are aware of the many services available to them as they make the transition into parenthood.

b. Serving as the main point of contact for any service member, regardless of pregnancy or parenthood status, for questions and concerns regarding pregnancy and parenthood rights and services.

c. Ensuring pregnant servicewomen and expectant servicemen are aware of, and receive counseling services from professionals, as applicable, for each pregnancy and/or additional child.