by Ryan Labadens, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
Some people just need to talk things out every now and then to help get them through the day; others just need to listen to what other people are going through so they know they’re not alone. That’s what the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps hopes to offer active-duty service members at Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport through programs such as Decompress and the Tri-Service Huddle.
“The purpose of Decompress is to give any active-duty person the opportunity to make connections with other people and to talk about different subjects to help them form a sense of community with their brothers and sister in service,” said NCBC Gulfport Deputy Command Chaplain, Lt. Sarah Powell, who runs the Decompress program.
Powell, who started the Decompress series through the Seabee Memorial Chapel onboard NCBC Gulfport in August 2018, initially ran the program’s meetings as sort of a free-flow forum for people to talk about issues in a close-knit setting.
While she still wants to keep that organic flow in the meetings, Powell has also started introducing topics and materials geared toward dealing with the issues and stressors that many active-duty military personnel can face in their careers, as well as ways to overcome those stressors through teaching about resiliency and leadership skills.
The Tri-Service huddle, which is run by Naval Construction Training Center (NCTC) Command Chaplain Lt. Cmdr. Paul Smith, operates along a similar line, but is geared toward active-duty military students at NCTC from all three branches training at the center: Navy, Army and Air Force.
Smith said the Tri-Service Huddle gives the active-duty students the chance to dress in physical training gear or civilian clothes (depending on their commands’ requirements) so they can mingle, play games and talk about various topics to help them build resilience and develop a sense of community.
Captain William Whitmire, NCBC Gulfport commanding officer, stressed the importance of community over isolation, especially in the military environment.
“These programs are designed to help fill in that gap and give people a place to belong – not just something to do, but a place where they can form new relationships, new support networks, new friend networks… and give them those opportunities to form community,” said Whitmire.
The chaplains hope that these programs will help to foster that spirit of community within service members who attend the meetings, and within the NCBC Gulfport environment as a whole.
The Tri-Service Huddle is held every Tuesday night from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in the Army barracks (Building 315) onboard NCBC Gulfport.