Sunday, December 27, 2009

From Petty Officer to Ensign in 8000 miles and 200 Pieces of Paper

By: LTJG Michael A. Leach, NAVELSG Public Affairs Officer

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Two sailors assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) forward JULIET team, and two Individual Augmentees (IA)want to join the ranks of the Navy Supply Officer Corps as ensigns.

Forward-deployed petty officers Jeffery Braun, Angelita Noche, Victoria Schutz, and Michael T. De Martin were encouraged by their commanding officers to submit individual direct commission officer packages because the responsibilities each petty officer is typically held by a lieutenant in the Supply Corps.

Following in the footsteps of her two brothers, Angelita Noche enlisted in 2002. Presently, she is the lead petty officer in a communications operations center at a forward base in Iraq where it is her responsibility to ensure that command personnel, visitors and guests are always accounted for. Having earned a college degree, the next logical step for Angelita was to pursue a Supply Corps commission. “Submitting my Supply Corps officer package has been very exciting for me.” says Noche. “Since my enlistment in 2002, I always thought about the opportunity to become a commissioned officer and didn’t realize it would come to fruition during my deployment,” said Noche.

Service has always been close to Petty Officer Second Class Michael T. De Martin’s heart. He volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan where he serves as a leader for a Provincial Reconstruction Team. De Martin became an important member to his commanding officer and the Army first sergeant with whom he worked that he was encouraged to apply for the direct commission officer program. “I have wanted to submit an officer package for a long time, but I always allowed things to get in the way, but with the full support of my commanding officer in Afghanistan, now is the time” says De Martin.

When Petty Officer Second Class Jeffery Braun isn’t teaching criminal justice courses at night for Central Texas College on his assigned base in Afghanistan, he’s busy as the Supply NCOIC during the day. “I have been working on my direct commission officer package since August” says Braun. “Not surprisingly, it is quite difficult to complete such a task from several thousand miles away; however, the process has been going rather smoothly so far, more so than I expected.”

For Petty Officer First Class Victoria Schutz, life in Iraq couldn’t be busier. She is the lead petty officer of the Mobile Air Cargo Handling Team supervising several sailors in the delivery of supplies and high priority assault support requests throughout Iraq. In her civilian life, Schutz works as a detention officer for “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” Joe Arpaio at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. Schutz serves as a taser instructor, field training officer, and as a supply officer overseeing ordering of large quantities of food, clothing and other supplies for the county jail.

What is a Direct Commission Package for the Navy Reserve Supply Corps entail exactly? College transcripts; 26 pages of security clearance information; letters of recommendation; a personal mission statement of 500 words; two Supply Corps officer interviews from senior commanders or captains, which can be a challenge if you are 8000 miles away from the United States in Afghanistan or Kuwait; the Commission application; medical forms; identity paperwork, and countless other pieces of paperwork. As one can imagine, earning a direct commission is not an easy process.

Officer Program Recruiter, Lt. Cmdr. Tracy Bloomquist, herself a Reserve Supply Officer located in Syracuse, New York, is working closely with these Sailors to ensure their dreams of entering the commissioned ranks are realized.

Within a few months, all four sailors may be trading in their red chevrons for a single gold-bar and joining the proud tradition of the Navy Supply Officer Corps.

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