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Whidbey Crosswind Building leaders The Puget Sound Veterans’ Monthly | February 2018

Sea Cadets train on Whidbey z pg. 4

A supplement to the Whidbey News-Times.


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Nonprofit provides help for military families Operation Homefront opens new office in Everett MELISSA SLAGER The Herald

When family is far away, it’s a service member’s military family that often steps in to help when times are tough or lonely. Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit, based in Texas, that was founded in 2002 to help military families. More than 90 percent of the nonprofit’s expenses are spent on its programs, including financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing, and support services aimed at preventing short-term needs from turning into long-term struggles. It recently opened a local office in Everett, where two Snohomish County women now lead the nonprofit’s efforts for the western United States. “It’s really the community coming together to show our military members and families how much we support them,” said Olivia Burley,

the new senior director for Operation Homefront’s Pacific Northwest operations. She oversees programs in Washington and seven other states. Like many of those who support Operation Homefront, Burley, of Mill Creek, has a military connection. Her husband is active duty in the Navy, and both her parents served with the Air Force. She grew up in Washington, graduating from Clover Park High School in Lakewood and from the University of Washington. Assisting her is Sara Rizzo, of Everett, who recently moved from San Diego with her active-duty husband, who was reassigned to recruiting duty in Everett for the Marine Corps. Rizzo, originally from Florida, is now Operation Homefront’s area manager for programs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. “It makes things a little

Ian Terry / The Herald

Olivia Burley and Sara Rizzo lead regional efforts for Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that supports military families. bit easier when I can talk to a family or a spouse and

say, ‘Oh yeah, I know where you’ve been. I understand what you’re going through, my husband is in the service.’ It helps with that connection,” Rizzo said. Operation Homefront is primarily known by the public for its donation campaigns for military kids at Dollar Tree stores. A holiday toy drive continues at Dollar Tree check-out

registers through Thursday. A Back to School Brigade drive earlier in the year gathers school supplies and backpacks. Besides its toy and school supply drives, Operation Homefront also provided meal kits for the holidays and holds morale-building events as well as a “baby shower” each spring. Those efforts are in addition to its emer-

gency financial assistance programs, such as helping with an unexpected medical bill. Volunteers



needed. Donations are welcome, too. To volunteer, go to and click the “Get Involved” tab.

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NEXCOM CEO Announces Early Rollout of Type III Uniform to All Navy Regions Retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, chief executive officer, Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) announced the conclusion of the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type III uniform rollout. This final rollout began Monday, Jan. 8, ahead of schedule in Navy Region Northwest, Mid-Atlantic, Japan, Korea and Naval District Washington. This concludes the rollout of the Type III uniform in all NEX stores throughout all Navy regions. “At NEXCOM we are proud to support our deserving sailors and families,” said Bianchi. “A key part of our mission is to provide the Navy’s newest uniforms to our sailors, and so we’re excited to roll out the Type III uniform earlier than originally planned.” Tom Jacobsen, NEXCOM Tidewater District vice president, explained that “NEX associates in the region are eager to assist sailors who have any questions on the manner of wear of the Type III uniforms.” Jacobsen said, “Our NEX uniform associates are subject matter experts and have all the necessary guidance to help any sailor with concerns regarding sizing or fit. We will continue to support our sailors to ensure they look sharp in the new Type III uniform.” Mallory, a Navy lieutenant., purchased her new Type III uniform at NEX Norfolk Monday morning. She said, “NEX Norfolk was fully stocked, and the NEX uniform associates were incredibly helpful and pulled a variety of sizes to ensure a correct fit.” “Throughout the region we are prepared, fully stocked and ready with the Type III uniform,” said Jean Bergquist, NEXCOM Northwest District vice president. “We have the greatest job, and that’s to serve our sailors, so we continue to stock our shelves and assist our customers with any and all uniform matters.” In accordance with NAVADMIN214/17, individual commanding officers will determine certain items for wear at their commands, such as the color/type of boot and ballcap. On Oct. 1, 2017, Recruit Training Command Great Lakes began issuing the Type III uniform with black boots to all new recruits, and by Oct. 1, 2019, the Type III uniform will be a mandatory seabag item for all Navy sailors. Type III uniforms were due to be available for purchase online at by the end of January.

New ‘boot camp’ focuses on VA home buyers First class is set for Feb. 20 at Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce

is what I need to be doing,’” said Hoppock. Her desire to help fellow veterans led Hoppock to team up with real estate agent Becky Nadzam to start a class about home buying with VA benefits. The first Boot Camp for VA Homebuyers will be held 4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 20, at the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce.


When Miranda Hoppock had to leave the Navy after her daughter was diagnosed with cancer, she went through the extensive process of learning about everything that came with her VA benefits. A VA specialist helped her and her family buy their first home, and that’s when she decided what her post-military career would be after her daughter was cancer free. Hoppock is now a mortgage lender who specializes in VA benefits. “When I helped my first client get into a house, I thought ‘man, this

The class will include information about dealing with the real estate agent, title escrow company, appraiser, loan options, negotiation of the purchase, and market trends. All with an emphasis on understanding VA entitlements and eligibility. Hoppock said her and Nadzam are “just trying to get out as much information in an hour as we can and be available for questions.” The classes will be the third Tuesday of every month, and Hoppock and Nadzam said they are willing to change how it’s done depending on the community’s needs and how it goes.

However, the main points of emphasis will probably not change much and they’ll be relevant to any home buyer, regardless of veteran status, they said. “We are going to drill down on the big things so that they feel empowered when they leave there,” said Nadzam. The military does provide some information and resources about benefits, but Hoppock said many people are still not completely informed on the subject. “To this day, it just amazes me how much people don’t know,” she said. Hoppock is passionate about the military, and didn’t plan on leaving the Navy before full retirement. She said she considers all current and former members of the military “family” and her primary focus is on “making sure that my family doesn’t get taken advantage of and that they feel confident in what their rights and their benefits are.”

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However, sailors will still be able to purchase Type I components by calling the NEX Uniform Support Call Center at 877-810-9030 in the continental United States and 001-877432-1736 overseas.

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Naval Sea Cadets ‘build leaders’ By LAURA GUIDO


ea Cadets from all over the country gathered last week at Camp Casey to immerse themselves in Navy culture.

The winter training in Central Whidbey included the Navy League Cadet Corps, which is composed of children aged 10 -12, and the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, with members ages 13-17. The program aims to “build from homesickness and bed wetting” to students who are making decisions and taking on leadership roles, according to Scott Oram, commanding officer of the Oak Harbor Sea Cadet unit. “We build leaders,” said Oram. The Oak Harbor unit, called the Orion Squadron, didn’t exist until 2015. Oram was stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in 2014 after moving from San Diego, where he was regional director of the program. While in California, Oram had started five Sea Cadet units, and was well prepared for the cumbersome task ahead of him. “It’s like starting a new business,” he said. The Oak Harbor Navy League agreed to sponsor the program, which is nationally supported by the Navy League of the Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Travis Finning, left, and Almazano Bergeron practice folding the flag at Sea Cadet winter training at Camp Casey. A total of 76 cadets attended the training.

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READER INFORMATION: ADMINISTRATIVE: The Whidbey Crosswind is a monthly publication of Sound Publishing, and is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association, the National Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. Advertising rates are available at the Crosswind office. While the Crosswind endeavors to accept only reliable advertisements, it shall not be responsible to the public for advertisements nor are the views expressed in those advertisements necessarily those of the Whidbey Crosswind. The right to decline or discontinue any ad without explanation is reserved. DEADLINES: Classifieds and Display Ads – 4 p.m. Monday prior to publication; Community News and Letters to Editor – Noon Monday prior to publication. ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENTS: ARMED FORCES COMM. ARBY’S

United States, and the commanding officer at NAS Whidbey Island provided space on the Seaplane Base. In September of this year, the Orion Squadron had enough Sea Cadets to transition from a formation to a fully commissioned Sea Cadet unit. “I went from nothing to the third largest unit (in the region) in less than two years,” said Oram. The program is a nonprofit civilian youth organization, separate from JROTC, supported by both the Navy and Coast Guard. Training camps, such as the one at Camp Casey, are required for cadets to receive promotions within the organization. The winter training included classes in leadership; military honors and ceremonies; basic and advanced medical training; Navy League Cadet recruit orientation; and robotics as part of the science, technology, engineer and mathematics courses. Twelve-year-old David Stasel, a Navy League cadet from Oak Harbor, joined the squadron in September. “I liked the Navy and thought it would be fun,” Stasel said. He became interested in the Navy because his grandfather had been a member. So far, he said he enjoyed his time in the unit and at the camp. Sam Martin, 15, wanted to

Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Front, cadets Joshua Merry, Almazano Bergeron and Maxim Tretiakov receive instructions from Travis Finning as they practice a flag ceremony. The group participated in Navy Sea Cadet Winter Training at Camp Casey. see if joining the military would be a career that interested him. Martin, in his second year of the program, lives in Freeland. There is no JROTC program at South Whidbey High School, and Martin

is one of only a few members of Orion Squadron to hail from the south end. “I’m a rare breed,” he laughed. His father served in the Army,

which sparked his interest in potentially joining the military. He feels the Sea Cadet program has helped prepare him to meet the type of expectations the military has. He also appreciated what he was learn-

ing in the leadership class at winter training. “You can always make a knife sharper,” he said. “This class is sharpening our leadership knife.”

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NAS Whidbey rated top large base By PATRICIA GUTHRIE

mental conservation are criteria for the award.

Naval Air Station Whidbey Island once again tops the list for the Navy’s Installation Excellence Award. For the second time in three years, NAS Whidbey has been voted the best large installation base by Navy Installations Command, which is responsible for Navy facilities worldwide. The annual Installation Excellence Awards compares how well Navy bases are operated and maintained.

NAS Whidbey Island Commanding Officer Geoff Moore called the award a welcome surprise.

“This was truly unexpected and we are extremely appreciative of the recognition,” he said in a press statement. “Each year we simply try to be better than the last, and with great support from both our tenants and our region staff we were able to sustain excellence. “Equally, this is an extremely important recognition for our community who do a tremendous job supporting our sailors and families.”

A formal ceremony will be scheduled at a later date. NAS Whidbey will receive $224,000 for getting the top award, money that can go toward family events, such as bringing in concerts and movies and enhancing base activities of its family programs.

Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns returned the compliment. “When I throw out the first pitch for Little League or whether we’re planting a tree, you name it, NAS Whidbey is there with spouses and kids,” Severns said. “It’s not just city partners but a real neighborhood

Unit morale, quality of life for junior enlisted sailors, property management, health, safety and environ-


Large Installation Award.

Hearing his neighborhood base once again is considered the best large base in the world didn’t surprise the mayor.

“The recognition is truly a reflection of the talent all across the base and captures what those who have been stationed here all know – this is the best base in the Navy,” said Nortier, now executive director at Island Transit.

“Since I’ve been on city council and now as mayor, they have always been one of the bases being considered,” he said. He cited strong “skippers at the top” for maintaining standards of excellence. Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson commended the base for being an outstanding role model. “Team Whidbey has set the standard for excellence,” she said. “We are fortunate to have such good neighbors who raise the bar for us all.” The top citation also indicates NAS Whidbey has been successful at reaching and maintaining goals, said Mike Nortier, commanding officer when the base won the 2016

NAS Whidbey Island’s role in advancing technology and maintaining national defense mission-critical operations is also considered during the selection process, said Mike Welding, public information officer. He cited continually improving teamwork, “being brilliant-at-thebasics” and being compliant with program requirements​as examples. “​The Installation-of-the-Year recognition shows that we have been successful at those objectives which certainly contribute to raising and maintaining high morale as it shows the base is committed to enhancing the quality of​life,” Welding said.​

The base is now under consideration at the Department of Defense level for the Commander-in-Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence, an award it also won in 2016. The Installation Excellence Award program recognizes the Navy’s top three large and small installations. In second place is Naval Base Coronado, while Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka earned third place. Small Installation awards went to Naval Air Station Whiting Field (first), Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg (second) and Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands. Navy Installations Command includes worldwide naval port operations, weapons storage, real estate, housing and childcare. It includes more than 50,000 sailors and civilian employees at 70 bases in 11 regions worldwide.

Order improves mental health help for transitioning vets Transitioning service members and veterans can now receive up to a year of mental health care from the Veterans Affairs Department after discharge from the service, according to an executive order President Donald J. Trump signed.

develop a joint action plan to ensure the 60 percent of new veterans who now do not qualify for enrollment in health care — primarily because of a lack of verified service connection related to the medical issue at hand — will receive treatment and access to services for mental health care for one year following their separation from service.

The order, “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life,” directs the Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security departments to

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the VA to ensure veterans who

have served our country continue to receive the important mental health care and services they need and deserve,” said Defense Secretary James N. Mattis. “We want them to get the highest care and the care that they so richly deserve, and I’ve been working very hard on that with [VA Secretary David J. Shulkin] and with everybody. It’s something that is a top priority,” the president said. “We will not rest until all of America’s great veter-

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* Extend DoD’s “Be There Peer Support Call and Outreach Center” services to provide peer support for veterans in the year following separation from uniformed service.

“During this critical phase, many transitioning service members may not qualify for enrollment in health care,” he said. “The focus of this executive order is to coordinate federal assets to close that gap.” The three departments will work to expand mental health programs and other resources to new veterans in the year following departure from uniformed service, including eliminating prior time limits and to the following: * Expand peer community outreach and group sessions in the VA Whole Health initiative from 18 Whole Health


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* Expand the DoD’s Military OneSource, which offers resources to active duty members, to include services to separating service members to one year beyond service separation. “The Department of Homeland Security is where many veterans find a second opportunity to serve their country - nearly 28 percent of our workforce has served in the armed forces, in addition to the 49,000 activeduty members of the United States Coast Guard,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen. “This critically important executive order will provide our service members with

the support they need as they transition to civilian life,” she added. “These dedicated men and women have put their lives on the line to protect our nation and our American way of life, and we owe them a debt we can never repay. We look forward to working with the VA and DoD to implement the president’s [executive order].” In signing this executive order, Shulkin said, the president has provided “clear guidance to further ensure our veterans and their families know that we are focusing on ways to improve their ability to move forward and achieve their goals in life after service.” For more information information on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, visit GENERAL CONTRACTOR

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Whidbey Crosswind, January 26, 2018  

January 26, 2018 edition of the Whidbey Crosswind

Whidbey Crosswind, January 26, 2018  

January 26, 2018 edition of the Whidbey Crosswind