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NEWS | Feb. 9, 2011

Putting Sailors first

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer Hudson Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The sun has barely begun to break the horizon and slivers of frost still shimmer upon windshields from the chilled night hours. Most people at this hour can be found in their beds, wrapped warmly in blankets waiting for the insistent calling of an alarm. However, one Sailor is already in his office.

Naval Support Activity Command Master Chief Billy Cady is already on the job which entails various duties from dealing with administrative work to taking care of his Sailors. As Command Master Chief, he is the senior enlisted Sailor at NSA on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station.

His open door policy often leads to interruptions, and at times he can still be found working long after the sun has set, catching up on his day's work. Even with an overwhelming schedule, Master Chief Cady always makes time to focus on his Sailors.

"Putting Sailors first is a saying that plays a very significant part in shaping our junior Sailors today," said Master Chief Cady.

Sailors sometimes feel as though they are presented with challenges they must face on their own, with little or no guidance from leadership. Master Chief Cady believes leaders at every level of the Navy should have a role in a Sailor's life not only professionally, but personally.

"It is critical that leaders play a part in a Sailor's career by knowing what their goals are, helping them with advancement and providing them with the tools they need in order to be successful," he said. "It is equally important that we are also involved with Sailors personally as well as professionally to ensure they understand they are not alone in the challenges they face. Senior leadership is always available to help."

As leaders, we need to be more involved," he continued. "We should never be too busy to stop what we are doing and help a Sailor. Just by taking those 10 minutes out of your day to help that person, you may have just prevented a small issue from becoming a big problem."

"It's good to get out of the office once in a while to refresh your mind and practice a little deck-plate leadership," he said. "Just walking around your department and saying hello to a Sailor or asking them how their day is going can make a world of difference."

Leadership is the cornerstone to the Navy's success and to a junior Sailor. Having the resources available to help Sailors is part of a leader's toolbox, but genuine care, listening skills and knowing how to spot distress signals can take years to perfect.

"Often times, when a Sailor does something inappropriate, it can be a cry for help," said Master Chief Cady. "It is not the best way to go about receiving help, but a lot of times they are unsure of who they can turn to. It is our job as leaders to know our Sailors and to know if something is bothering them so we can take care of an issue before it gets out of hand.

"Mission first, Sailors always isn't just a cliché; it's a mandate," he continued. "We all have a job to do, a mission to complete; but if the Sailor's are not taken care of, there will not be any one there to complete the mission.

"As our force gets smaller, we have to rely on each other more than ever," Master Chief Cady concluded.