As the Executive Agent for Individual Augmentees, it is my job to support our Sailors and their families from the day they receive their orders to deploy until they return and reintegrate back into our Navy family. Inherent in my duties as the EA is the responsibility to continually improve the service we deliver to our Sailors to ensure they have a positive deployment experience.
I received feedback (see attachment) a few weeks ago from a LT who had a very troubling experience returning from his IA deployment to Iraq. After reading about his experience, I met with the new Commanding Officer of the Expeditionary Combat Readiness Center (ECRC), Captain Eric Jabs, to discuss our re-deployment process and the specific changes we need to make to ensure a smoother transition for our Sailors returning home from their IA tours in the CENTCOM AOR.
Below are the changes to the re-deployment process that I approved, starting at the beginning of the re-deployment process through the Sailor’s arrival at his or her NMPS destination.
Starting from 60-45 days before departure, we now make initial reservations with our Sailors for their travel between the Warrior Transition Program (WTP) and their Navy Mobilization Processing Station (NMPS) location. While in WTP, we will gather additional information from Sailors on ground transportation and lodging requirements and provide that information directly to NMPS and ECRC. Each Sailor then receives a personalized instruction and information sheet to assist them with their trip home. We are also breaking the travel briefing into a smaller, more focused teams based on destination (Norfolk, San Diego, Gulfport, or Port Hueneme) IA order type (GSA, IAMM, OSA or RC Mob). The changes to the briefing process ensure our Sailors have a complete understanding of their specific plan prior to boarding their flight back home.
ECRC BWI Detachment
Over the next 30 days, we are establishing an ECRC liaison detachment in the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) region that will serve two primary purposes: The first is to personally welcome our Sailors, face-to-face, shipmate-to-shipmate, when they step off the plane from theater. The second purpose is to make sure our Sailors have the necessary assistance with follow-on flights and transportation from their destination airport to berthing and then to the correct Navy Mobilization Processing Site (NMPS).
Streamlined transportation to Norfolk
For those Sailors flying to NMPS in Norfolk, we are changing to an airline that provides direct flights from BWI to Norfolk (ORF). This change will minimize the possibilities of delayed or cancelled connecting flights and reduce the overall transit time for Sailors.
Arrival assistance in Norfolk and San Diego
Upon arriving in Norfolk or San Diego, an ECRC representative will now be greeting Sailors at the airport to assist with logistical needs and provide transportation to berthing.
While Norfolk and San Diego will receive the immediate changes, I believe it is important to standardize our support across all NMPS locations. Accordingly, we will be implementing similar improvements at Gulfport and Port Hueneme.
Our Sailors, especially those serving in the unique capacity as an IA, should never be forced to manage a tough situation without help. When something is not right, I want to know about it so that we can take action and get it fixed as soon as possible. You can always reach me directly here on my blog or provide feedback through ECRC (toll free) at 1-877-364-4302.
All the best, JCHjr