By Paige Gnann
The Mirror editor

Seasoned and new Chief Petty Officer (CPO) spouses got a chance to swap their own sea stories and talk about the joys and hardship of being a Navy spouse during NS Mayport's first CPO Selectee Spouse Symposium held Aug. 20 at Mayport Beacon.

The symposium included a CMC panel, resource fair, fashion show and mentor groups.

"Advancing to Chief is the biggest transition in a service members military career," said CPO spouse and symposium organizer Ginger Manley. "This brings with it a lot of changes for a CPO Selectee's spouse as well. Our Sailors participate in CPO 365 throughout the entire year prior to being selected to become a Chief. Once Chief results are announced, they go through Phase II which is intense training to help them be prepared and become more knowledgeable for their new position as a Chief." 

"Their spouses support them, encourage them, empathize with them, and cheer them on during this hectic and challenging phase," she added. "I feel that it is very important for Chief Selectee spouses to also receive training, guidance, and fellowship as they transition into their new role as a Chief's spouse. That is what the Spouse Symposium is meant to do. This is one day during this transition that is intended just for the selectee's spouse. No one knows the challenges and questions that these spouses are encountering during Phase II, better than other CPO spouses. Who better to offer encouragement, wisdom, humor, and support during this phase of their life and onward, then those who have also experienced it."

Manley said that planning for the Symposium all personnel directly involved in the Spouse Symposium was part of the Chief community. 

"We had 'seasoned' CPO spouses, first year CPO spouses, and selectee spouses all learning, networking, and sharing valuable insight & information with each other, she said. "Plus, I also like knowing that wherever the Navy may take them, they will be able to draw upon this experience that they had here at NS Mayport and pass it on to future CPO selectee spouses as well."

"If we are gong to have an effective Chiefs' Mess, it has to include families," said NS Mayport CMDCM Bill Houlihan. "The best way to do that is to make sure our spouses understand the history and traditions of the Chiefs' Mess and understand why their spouses are going through the training that they are."