Bonhomme Richard Hosts Rise Above Initiative Resource Fair
​190220-N-DC385-1115 SAN DIEGO (Feb. 20, 2019) Lt. Kendall Taylor, a chaplain with the Chaplain Religious Enrichment Development Operation (CREDO), explains an upcoming CREDO event to Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airman Angel Aguilar, from Los Angeles, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard  (LHD 6), during a Rise Above Resource Fair. The resource fair served as the kick-off event for Bonhomme Richard’s Rise Above Initiative, designed to assist and empower Sailors by giving them access to opportunities such as community service, financial assistance, higher education, and more. Bonhomme Richard is in its homeport of San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cosmo Walrath)

SAN DIEGO – Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) participated in a Rise Above initiative resource fair on the mess decks of a barge assigned to Bonhomme Richard, Feb. 20.

The Rise Above initiative was recently launched onboard Bonhomme Richard. According to Capt. Rich LeBron, Bonhomme Richard’s commanding officer, the initiative is meant to provide Sailors with the resources to advance themselves into a multifaceted tool capable of surmounting any challenge.

“The objective of this resource fair and the Rise Above initiative as a whole is to help our Sailors improve,” said Capt. Rich LeBron, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard. “We want to develop ‘Renaissance Sailors’ who can do more than just fight. We want to develop Sailors who can think, be creative, ideate, collaborate, and innovate. We want Sailors who strive to succeed, not just struggle to survive. We want to inspire our Sailors to aspire for excellence and serve as a model of what we can achieve Navy-wide with the right focus and the right message.”

The resource fair included representatives from various colleges, Navy-funded resources, the San Diego Police Department and local community service groups.

Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Joshua Bloodgood, from Longmont, Colo., who helped organize the resource fair and said he believes all of the resources combined at the Rise Above initiative will assist Sailors in creating a stable base to improve themselves in different facets of personal life and life in the Navy.

“I believe people have different pillars that stabilize them, such as physical health, mental health and spirituality,” said Bloodgood. “We have resources here for colleges, physical fitness and financial assistance. When a Sailor uses resources to help stabilize them, it also helps strengthen them as a whole. After seeing similar events and knowing the resources that were available for our Sailors, I thought it was important to solicit resources that would impact various areas of Sailors lives. I didn’t want to concentrate solely on recreational activities but instead on education, internships, or programs that can help Sailors who have been impacted in ways that could deteriorate their day-to-day performance.”

Colleges represented at the fair included Trident University, Columbia College, National University and Vincennes University which attracted Sailors seeking to improve themselves through education.

“Getting a degree will definitely help me out,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Ian Divad, from Daly City, Calif. “I think it’ll help me develop more patience, be a better leader and learn more responsibility as I undergo my classes. I was most interested in Trident University, which offers a bachelors degree in science and leadership. I think that course would be really helpful as it wouldn’t just help me outside the Navy but would also help me grow my leadership skills in the Navy.”

Tracy Owens, a community outreach and volunteer coordinator with Support The Enlisted Project (STEP), said that the event also brought in representatives, such as herself, from Navy funded programs intended to both help Sailors in need as well as giving them another source of community service events aimed at helping out other military members.

“I think if you’re struggling financially it’s hard to have good performance at work or excel in your personal life,” said Owens. “STEP works with active duty military members and veterans and helps them achieve financial security. I believe if you have your money in order it frees you up and will give you a much better chance of advancing personally and professionally.”

“I went around to every table, and I can honestly say that all the people have come here to help our Sailors,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Fred, from Perth Amboy, N.J. “I think this is a great opportunity for us, and we should definitely take advantage of it. Most of the people came in here knowing what resource they were looking for and they found it, but maybe they found something they weren’t even really thinking about. I think that having all of these opportunities will help us thrive as Sailors, especially with the college. This event is practically hand-feeding Sailors with resources to thrive in their personal lives and at work.”

Bonhomme Richard is in its homeport of San Diego.


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