BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Three junior officers from local commands were recognized for their achievements by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Kitsap Chapter May 18.
The annual event is held in conjunction with the community's annual Armed Forces Day events the same day.
Representing Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) was Lt. Darren Freeman, medical technologist and laboratory department division officer, Lt. Cmdr, Constance Spotts from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS IMF), and Lt. j.g. Damien Wall from USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730)(Blue).
"It's our opportunity to recognize such worthy junior officers by honoring them and their commands. In the past, getting such recognition for some can also be a determining factor in helping to shape their future," said Carol Metheny, MOAA Kitsap Chapter 1st vice president (auxiliary), noting that it has been more than 35 years that MOAA has championed and feted local junior officers with recognition.
Freeman has the primary responsibility for NHB's Microbiology, Transfusion Services, and Core Lab sections. He oversees more than 30 staff, is responsible for more than $3 million worth of sensitive clinical laboratory equipment, and manages a budget of more than $2 million.
"Lt. Freeman's ability is a testament to him as a leader in our medical laboratory, and as being a mentor for junior Sailors by handling a number of collateral duties," said Capt. Iris Boehnke, NHB executive officer acting and director of Nursing Services.
For Freeman and his staff, there is never any real down time in the laboratory. They handle more than 750,000 tests per year and work around the clock to support the Emergency Department, Multi-Service Ward, all inpatient needs and all collection and drop-off requirements from all beneficiaries.
"It's gratifying that we're an integral part of caring for almost every patient that seeks medical care at NHB," said Freeman, citing statistical evidence that approximately 75 percent of patient diagnosis comes directly from lab results.
But this is just par for the course for Freeman, a prior hospital corpsman with over 13 years in the Navy, who is one year into his three-year stint at NHB. Before arriving here, he was stationed at Role 3 Hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan as the lab department head and also handled a number of collateral duties.
"I've been told to branch out to move up in my naval career," said Freeman, who has also taken on the role of command fitness leader, a role of expanded and demanding importance.
The common theme of all three junior officers is their ability to take on more responsibilities than just their specific job assignment.
Spotts recently returned from a 12-month individual augment (IA) assignment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to assume the role of deputy military assistant within the Business Office PSNS & IMF.
Despite putting in more than 80 hours per work week while forward deployed individual augmentee, Spotts endeared herself to locals by initiating and leading other volunteers to knit and present 43 handcrafted blankets to children at a local Afghanistan hospital.
"The few hours I wanted just for me - turned into others and 43 blankets," said Spotts, who has been in the Navy for 15 years.
The impact of her organizing the volunteer effort was both immediate and well-received and had the unexpected affect of improving basic morale in both the local and American zones.
Spotts also distinguished herself by expertly managed distribution and oversight for construction funds exceeding $350 million each month coordinating between three separate command headquarter units while simultaneously providing strong support the directorate's engineering cadre. She also provided critical assistance to the area operational commander in revising the land-use/acquisition policy which directly impacted multiple key construction projects throughout Afghanistan.
Spotts has received orders to transfer this summer to assume the duties as the senior engineering duty officer in the maintenance management for the Atlantic Force surface fleet units.
Wall has also used his current tenure to solidify his stature as a dependable and reliable Navy officer who is capable of taking on added responsibility
"Lt. j.g. Wall is a 'true Mustang officer,' and a more mature officer than the typical officer who comes on board," said Lt. Cmdr. John Correll, USS Henry M. Jackson (Gold Crew) executive officer and himself a former recognized junior officer at MOAA. Correll noted that Wall rose to his current rank through the Navy's Seaman to Admiral Program.
According to Correll, Wall handles a myriad number of duties and responsibilities on the boat, primarily as the damage control assistant, quality assurance officer, diving officer, and assistant engineer, and has been involved in four strategic deterrence patrols.
"It's an honor to be here and be recognized by those who know what we do because they themselves have also been through it," said Wall, who will depart the area soon for the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
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