SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Individual augmentees (IA) and spouses from around the Kitsap area came together for an IA symposium held on board Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor April 28.
As part of his visit to the Northwest region, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West was on hand to deliver opening remarks to kick off the symposium.
"For all of the IAs, I want to personally thank you for raising your hand and going over there and doing a very difficult job for us," said West. "That is extremely awesome. We have more Sailors on the ground in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility than we have afloat. A lot of people don't know that, and it's incredible. Our Sailors over there are performing and doing the job extremely well."
IAs and their spouses were on hand to listen to guest speakers, while having the opportunity to share their personal and individual experiences. Guest speakers talked about topics such as programs available through Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), and preparing for deployment and reintegration.
"When the Navy came up with the operational stress control program we looked at all naval operations as stressful, and certainly with combat, stress is inevitable," said Leanne Braddock, a licensed marriage therapist, and retired Navy commander. "Even though we're going to be speaking specifically here at the symposium, we're looking at a range of stress reactions."
Braddock also feels that communicating the continuum of stress will develop a common language for all Navy members.
"When they come back from their tour, or even while they're on their assignment, other members around them could have a clearer idea of what needs to be done, rather than letting the stress issue get out of hand."
Service members and spouses found the symposium knowledgeable.
"This symposium is very informative," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Joseph Payne, from Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Pacific Det. Puget Sound. "There's a lot of help out there for IAs and those who deal with a lot of stress.
"I didn't know how much support we had from the FFSC. I really didn't know what was going on in the 'big Navy' and how they're handling it. I've learned that they have us (IAs) in their forefront of thinking, which is good."
"I've gotten a lot of information as far as what signs to look for when my husband returns home," said Amy Cunningham, spouse of a deployed Sailor. "I know to let him come home and get used to living in a family environment."
For more news from Naval Base Kitsap, visit www.navy.mil/local/kitsap/.