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USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- As the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) continues on its transit to its homeport of San Diego, crew members gathered in the hangar bay April 1 for a "Reality Standdown," in preparation for homecoming.

The standdown focused on planning, safety in decision-making, some of the risks associated with return from deployment and the consequences of not adhering to safety principles taught to all Bonhomme Richard Sailors.

"The purpose of this reality standdown is to refocus our young Sailors prior to getting home. Our focus has been on being at sea for the past six months; now it's time to shift our focus to being back home," said Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) David Steo, coordinator for the event.

For the last month, an embarked representative from the Fleet and Family Service Center has facilitated return and reunion workshops for crew members, focusing on returning to family, financial planning and emotional changes that may occur after deployment. The Reality Standdown provided additional information for possible changes and challenges that lay ahead for Bonhomme Richard crewmembers readjusting post-deployment.

"What we're hoping this standdown does is help our Sailors realize that they will be home before they know it and hopefully start them thinking about the possible consequences of not thinking before they act," said Steo.

Topics included drinking and driving, suicide awareness, sexual assault prevention, liberty policy for homeport San Diego and nearby Mexico, as well as safety for motorcyclists. Sailors spoke about past experience with alcohol-related incidents and the affects they had on their personal lives and Navy careers.

"It was very brave for them to get up there and talk about their experiences with alcohol incidents," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Richard Williams. "Getting a first hand account of what those sailors went through helps me understand what could happen if I made the wrong decision with alcohol."

Interior Communications Electrician Fireman Apprentice April Green, who is on her first deployment, said that the presentation was very informative.

"I am new to the Navy and to San Diego, so it's good that we're informed on areas that could be potentially hazardous for us," she said, "The presentation provided a lot of food for thought on making good decisions in the near future, so as to not lose privileges."

The event concluded with comments by Commanding Officer Capt. John Funk. He reflected on the crew's performance throughout the past seven months of deployment, as well as emphasized to the crew that they should continue to take care of each other even after returning home.

"Tonight's intent was to talk about reality, for you to see that the reality of life is based on our choices and actions. We wanted to make sure you have your eyes wide open to the consequences," said Funk.

"But, let's also face reality from a different perspective. Let's look at the Bonhomme Richard reality, and the impact of our choices and actions as a crew. The reality of the past seven months is the incredible operational and personal successes we have achieved. When we get home, that's the reality you should consider and celebrate."

Bonhomme Richard, the command platform for the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, returning home following a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.

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