22 Nov 2011
By Lea Sutton, KNSD
SAN DIEGO — Imagine joining the Navy ten years ago with a career in mind. Now, sailors with that career plan are getting pink slips as the military looks for places to save money.
Since June, 16,000 mid-career sailors have been waiting to find out if they will be forced out early.
Last week, the Navy began its layoffs when the first of two rounds of personnel cuts were announced.
“Nobody ever wants to pass this sort of bad news to somebody,” said Captain Winton Smith, Naval Station San Diego’s commanding officer. “It’s a very difficult thing for any commanding officer to sit down with a hard charger and to tell them to prepare for the next chapter of their life.”
Smith had to do that with two of his sailors last week. The Navy recently reviewed 16,000 sailors in 31 job categories where it had surpluses; all had served between 7 and 14 years. The Navy was looking for extra sailors to layoff.
“It can come down to a particular rating is simply over-manned, and we just have to reduce the number of people within that rating”, said Smith.
These jobs range from aviation electricians to religious program specialists. In June, the Navy allowed sailors to apply to transfer to under-manned ratings, like medical professionals, to avoid being let go. But about 3,000 in the Navy will have to leave. To ease the transition, the Navy provides services including programs that help sailors translate their skills to public sector certifications.
“Our sailors have amazing leadership skills, and they’ve already started to make their own plans, and we’re just here to help augment them and get them connected with all those resources that can help them with their goals”, said Mary Kirby of Naval Station San Diego’s Fleet and Family Services.
The second round of lay-offs is expected to be announced near the end of this month, and those will affect the more senior sailors in the group up to the senior chief level.
The San Diego Fleet and Family Support Center is ready to help sailors who find their Navy careers ending early. Here is the contact information: