By MC1 Michael Wiss
Navy Public Affairs Support Element East, Detachment Southeast
"Visions of the future" was the theme as Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert held an "All Hands Call" at Naval Station Mayport March 18.
Before addressing local Sailors, Greenert proudly gave the oath to 16 petty officers who chose to be reenlisted by the CNO during the event. After swearing them in, the CNO greeted each of the Sailors and presented them with coins.
"First, I want to thank all the family members here today," Greenert said. "I want to reassure that we will continue to support the Navy's family programs."
Several hundred gathered at Naval Station Mayport and dozens took to the microphone. Concerns included the increasing length of deployment, healthcare changes, housing assistance, opportunity for advancement and the new sexual assault prevention program. The main focus was around rumors of retirement changes stemming from the Department of Defense recommendations to the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission reviewing military retirement for Congress. The President established the commission to conduct a review of military compensation and retirement systems.
"There is no plan today to change retirement," Greenert said. "If you wear the uniform today, today's retirement system is your retirement system."
Another question on many Sailors in attendance minds was the future of the tuition assistance program. Greenert put those worries to bed when he announced that the Tuition Assistance (TA) program will continue to pay 100 percent of Sailors' tuition and enrollment fees in fiscal year 15 (FY15), This decision modifies a proposal for FY15, which originally included a payment split for TA where the program would pay 75 percent of tuition costs and 25 percent of that would be the responsibility of the Sailor.
"This is important to me because I want an educated Sailor, and I want you to leave with all the certifications you can, so you can get a good job when you leave the Navy and fall right into a career," said Greenert. "We've accelerated your life, as we like to say."
Greenert continued by talking about the future of Mayport and the importance of the development of the Amphibious Ready Group. With USS New York (LPD-21) already homeported at naval Station Mayport and the other two ships, USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) and USS Fort McHenry (LSD-45) slated to arrive as early later on this year.., According to Greenert, the development of Mayport is important for the defense of the East Coast.
"This first phase of the ARG move to Mayport underscores the Navy's commitment to a strategic dispersal of assets; a strategy that your congressman Crenshaw has long advocated on Capitol Hill," he said. "The strategic dispersal of aircraft carriers on the east coast is important. As for the home porting of an aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport, we still want to see that come to fruition, but we don't have the money right now. In the meantime, we're almost there to making sure the Mayport facilities are fully aircraft carrier capable."
In closing during a press conference following the All Hands Call, Greenert praised everyone who is a part of the Mayport family.
I want to thank everyone who is a part of what makes this base great," he said. "The community is great, they really embrace us, and this is what makes this such a popular place to be assigned to."