RED SEA (Oct. 30, 2014) - What do you think of when you imagine a barbershop? Maybe it resembles a scene from the movies with a room full of men, sprawled out in cherry red barber chairs, arguing who was the greatest quarterback of all time. Perhaps it’s the sound of clippers buzzing like a swarm of bees around a hive. It could even be a couple of old men embellishing the size of their big catch on the last fishing trip over a game of chess. However, in this case, the scene would not be what you expect.
Recently, the barbershop of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) took on a different form as lines of women formed to enjoy an at-sea salon.
According to Chief Logistics Specialist Daisy Ortega, coordinator of the Women at Sea program, many females cut their hair shorter than normal before deployment because they aren’t able to get it cut on deployment. Some female Sailors require more maintenance for their hair so Women at Sea was glad to host the event and help out those Sailors.
Members of the ship’s Women at Sea program sponsored the event to allow women aboard the ship to get their hair treated on deployment, according to Ortega.
“Never before have I been able to go to the barbershop on a ship and get a haircut,” said Ortega. “So this is a big step Navy-wide. That was very exciting for me.”
“It’s also a great way to meet other women on the ship,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Ashley Payter. “Sometimes, with our work environment, it’s hard to get out and actually meet people. Opening up the barbershop to female Sailors allows us to do just that.”
“We are trying to incorporate new ideas into the program to improve the quality of life around the ship and improve the Sailors’ morale,” said Ortega.
Earlier in the deployment, Women at Sea held a meet-and-greet. At the event, speed mentoring was held where senior members had mentoring cards and would ask questions in a manner that promoted a more open dialogue between junior Sailors and their leadership. The meet and greet also included discussions on women’s health, motherhood and family planning.
Ortega said she believes the program is important to the command because it provides mentorship, especially for those junior Sailors who are on deployment for the first time.
“Sometimes they just don’t know how to face certain challenges that they come upon,” said Ortega. “Not all females have a female leader in their chain of command. So through this program, they can approach any of the members with more personal problems in which we can relate.”
“If you have any issues, you’ll be able to talk to other people and have the resources available to either combat those issues or get help with them,” said Payter. “For my last deployment, it was a great way for me to be able to open up and be myself. That’s why it’s so helpful to me.”
Ortega said, despite the name of the program, it is open to all Sailors, not just women. Women sometimes face different challenges aboard the ship, but Sailors of both sexes are welcome to participate, she said.
“More than anything, the program is a mentoring tool,” said Ortega. “It’s not meant to separate males and females, so our goal is to focus on the mentoring and leadership aspects instead of segregating as well as being able to include both male and female Sailors because we get great input from both sexes.”
The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.