USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea (NNS) -- Female Sailors and Marines working in the aviation field aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) received career advice and strong mentorship from one of the Navy's top female naval flight officers during a video teleconference (VTC), April 9.
Rear Adm. Margaret DeLuca "Peg" Klein, chief of staff for U.S. Cyber Command located at Fort Meade, Md., used the VTC technology to speak with female Sailors and Marines aboard Makin Island who are currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
During the VTC, Klein's talked about how the advancement of women in aviation and the military have helped highlight inclusion, one of the key focus areas outlined in the Secretary of Navy's "21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative."
She also spoke about the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between the military and their personal lives
"You can't really live your life by a POA&M [Plan of Actions and Milestones], Klein told the group that consisted of female officers and enlisted personnel.
Klein explained how the Navy is continuing to recruit a diverse workforce, and that diversity consists of not just gender and skin color but also of different religions, socio-economic conditions and other factors.
"We can easily focus on diversity of color and gender because they are obvious," said Klein. "But what we need to do is remove as many of our cultural biases as we can in order to be inclusive."
Klein, who served as the 82nd commandant of midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, also spoke about the importance of physical fitness, another area addressed by the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative.
"The earlier in your career that you can adopt a physical fitness plan, the easier it will be to continue that plan as you get older," said Klein.
A former squadron commanding officer, Klein also offered advice to those female Sailors and Marines who want to become commanding officers.
"Pursue positions of increased responsibility and pursue positions of leadership," said Klein. "Get a variety of experience. Every assignment is an opportunity for you to make the most out of it."
During the VTC, Klein also spoke on the importance of professional organizations like Women in Aviation International (WAI), a non-profit organization founded in 1994 that is dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests.
Capt. Kristin J. Elmlinger, a Marine Corps aviator assigned to Tactical Air Control Squadron 11 currently embarked aboard Makin Island, said she admires Klein for being a successful mother, aviator and naval professional.
"She made goals and stuck to them," said Elmlinger. "I aspire to be as well-organized as her. What an inspiration for having it all, accomplishing your goals, and making time for family while becoming a flag officer."
Elmlinger said she appreciated Klein taking the time to talk to the group about the many challenges faced by women in the military.
"I feel it is a little more challenging for women in the military to be a mother and have family, especially if you are an aviator," said Elmlinger. "Having a family takes you out of the cockpit; timing is everything."
Elmlinger also said that she thinks it is important for Navy and Marine Corps officers to experience camaraderie in organizations like the WAI.
"You can learn a lot from those that have gone before, or be an inspiration for those that are just joining the ranks," said Elmlinger.
Chief Air Traffic Controller (AW/SW) Gavrila Brooks from Makin Island's operations department, one of the enlisted Sailors who attended the VTC, said she enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Klein about women in aviation and learn about the WAI organization.
"It was a reminder that I can have both a family and a career in the Navy without sacrificing one for the other," said Brooks.
Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, currently supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.
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For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.