CARLISLE, Pa. (NNS) -- A retired Navy command master chief who serves as a Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) - Safe Harbor Anchor Program mentor - spent valuable time with a Coast Guard wounded warrior and his family in Carlisle, Pa., during November.
Kenneth Rummel, who previously oversaw enlisted personnel at Navy Reserve Forces Command, became an Anchor Program mentor this summer, and he provides friendship and support to retired Master Chief Health Services Technician Eugene Mason.
"Ken helps my husband in being able to do some of the hobbies he used to enjoy," said Mason's wife Jasmina. "He's a positive influence to my husband in showing him that, even though he has a disability, he can still be part of life and enjoy himself."
Mason had a long and storied career in the Coast Guard; while serving on USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) in 1994, he helped deliver a baby for a Haitian woman trying to flee her country. In January 2010, Mason suffered a stroke that left his right side paralyzed and significantly impaired his speech. He retired from the Coast Guard in 2011.
Mason is enrolled in NWW, the Navy's support program for seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen. NWW provides a lifetime of non-medical care to seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, guiding them through recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
Mason and Rummel live in close proximity to one another, and they try to connect as frequently as possible. This month, Rummel took Mason to a private shooting range and assisted him while he shot Rummel's pistol and rifle. In the coming weeks, Rummel and his wife plan to take the Masons to dinner.
"I can't tell you how proud Gene was when showing Jasmina and his children the targets he shot at the range," said Rummel. "It is such a blessing to see Gene do some things he thought were gone from his life."
NWW's Anchor Program provides wounded warriors an invaluable network of support during the conclusion of their military careers. It matches wounded warriors with local mentors who offer a wide range of support, including serving as social contacts, providing personal referrals - recommending anything from the best nearby restaurant to the most reliable plumber - and establishing connections with local employers. They also help an enrollee maintain contact with NWW after transitioning out of the military.
Rummel was critical to the establishment of the Anchor Program more than four years ago. Reserve Sailors often serve as Anchor Program mentors for wounded warriors, and they are essential to the success of the initiative. As the command master chief at Navy Reserve Forces Command, Rummel helped solidify the command's partnership with NWW and develop a strategic plan for the initiative.
"It would have been impossible to predict that, after helping to stand up the program years ago, Ken would retire and actually end up being a mentor to one of our wounded warriors," said David Pennington, who oversees the Anchor Program for NWW. "Ken clearly believed in the concept of the Anchor Program during the beginning stages, and today he continues to demonstrate that commitment each and every day."
Rummel enjoys a very special relationship with Mason and his family. His experiences with the military - on active duty and in retirement - make him an ideal companion for Mason.
"Jasmina has taken on so much and is doing well; she's a strong woman who cares for Gene and her three children and holds a pride in her husband that is remarkable," said Rummel. "These are the heroes of any uniformed service - those who give all and then their lives are changed forever."
In addition to helping her husband, Jasmina says that Rummel's mentorship has benefited her in many ways.
"It helps in freeing up time for me so I can tend to my kids and do work around the house, or just relax a bit - read a book or watch a movie," she says.
Rummel, for his part, insists that serving as an Anchor Program mentor is its own reward.
"The joy I see in Gene's face is doubled in mine. The relief I see in Jasmina's smile is doubled in my life. I have a more fulfilled life in helping our wounded warriors," he said.
November marks Warrior Care Month, a time to recognize wounded warriors - and those who care for them - for their service, sacrifices and achievements. This year's theme, "Warrior Care - Building a Ready and Resilient Force," emphasizes the Navy's commitment to the welfare of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen - at bedside, during rehabilitation, and throughout their transition back to active duty or to civilian life.
For more information about NWW, the Anchor Program or Warrior Care Month, call 1-855-NAVY WWP/1-855-628-9997, visit http://safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more news from Commander, Navy Installations Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cni/.