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NEWS | Feb. 15, 2012

Mentorship develops leadership

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Brannon Deugan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs Office

Entering the Navy can be an extreme culture shock to many as they transition to a military lifestyle, which can be challenging for even the most seasoned Sailors.

Realizing this, Master Chief Petty Officer Rick West, master chief petty officer of the Navy, implemented the Brilliant on the Basics program to provide guidelines for leaders throughout the ranks to provide mentorship and pave a path for a Sailor's success.

The Brilliant on the Basics program requires every command to have a command mentor program that promotes the wellness of every Sailor, both professionally and personally. Naval Health Clinic Charleston's own mentorship program promotes and encourages Sailors to further their professional education by sharing their hands-on experience and knowledge with their peers.

"From my perspective, the program is very important because it prepares our junior Sailors and junior officers for that next step to becoming a senior enlisted leader or officer," said Master Chief Petty Officer Terence Anthony, NHCC command master chief. "Our command grooms from within. We teach hospital corpsmen straight out of "A" school what it takes to hold an independent duty corpsman billet or how to be a successful officer in the medical community."

NHCC's command mentor program partners with the command sponsorship program to provide a mentor to the command's new Sailors before they even arrive at NHCC.
"We contact our Sailors when they first get orders to NHCC and again, when they check-in to the command," said Petty Officer 1st Class Dale Oliver, NHCC command mentor coordinator. "Everybody needs a mentor, from junior enlisted to senior officers, and preferably, they should have more than one."

According to an April 2010 Sailor Gram, a monthly flier from Navy Total Force, there are two types of mentoring in the Navy; formal and informal. A formal mentorship is required by a command-based instruction that provides guidance and expectations for the growth of Sailors coupled with a culture of shipmates helping shipmates. Informal mentoring is a relationship that develops over time between a mentor and his protégé based on the protégés respect of the mentor's leadership qualities or the perceived potential of the protégé.

"We are always mentoring on an informal basis, but you want to make sure that some things are documented such as positive counseling sessions on the protégés career goals," said Oliver. "We like to have Sailor's sitting down with their mentors for sessions that are formal but at the same time, a phone call can be made for a quick informal checkup. They are both needed.

"Mentorship is an ongoing process and even though we have instructions to help guide us, mentoring and counseling are personal and not limited to the minimum requirements of the command instruction," Oliver continued.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant Ogden, a hospital corpsman assigned to NHCC enjoys mentoring and helping junior Sailors.

"At my last command I was put on the fast track for promotion to E-5 by having a good mentor," said Ogden. "He helped me study and guided me in the right direction.

"Seeing a Sailor succeed is probably the most rewarding thing about being a mentor," he continued. "I really enjoy laying out their options on the table for them to consider and getting them onto the right track to achieve their professional and personal goals."

At NHCC, a mentor counsels their protégé by looking ahead one, three and five years. The mentor works with their Sailor to develop a game plan that is right for that Sailor.
"It always begins with the Sailor. We just try to set them up for success," said Oliver. "The mentor learns what the Sailor wants in their career and their life and provides guidance and resources."

"Mentoring is like baking a cake; you have to mix all of the ingredients before you can bake it. The final result is a properly prepared cake ready to serve," said Anthony. "Mentors have an opportunity to provide someone with the tools and knowledge they need in order to succeed whether it is professionally or personally."