By Ensign Amber Lynn Daniel, Diversity and Inclusion Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) will address the topic “Planning a Family During Your Navy Career” throughout the month of January.
CSADD, whose motto is “Shipmates Helping Shipmates,” will provide information and training across the fleet on resources available to Sailors considering parenthood, as well as information for Sailors who are already parents.
“We want you to continue your career in the Navy, and we want to make sure that child is cared for as well,” said Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW/SCW) Scott Benning. “It’s a holistic view of the whole situation, it is not about trying to tell someone not to have a family. Our leadership is focused on making sure that our Sailors and their families have the very best in resources. You can see that in housing, in medical facilities, and in the compensation that we have for our families.”
The CSADD topic is intended to facilitate an open discussion with Sailors about the many ways having a child can affect an individual Sailor’s life. The responsibilities of parenthood require consideration and planning for both men and women in uniform, as all naval service members are expected to balance the demands of a naval career with their family responsibilities.
“At the end of the day, if you want your child to be well taken care of, you’ve got to prepare,” said Benning. “You can’t take childbirth lightly. Understand that your family does come first, but that you’ll have commitments to taking care of that child, while serving your country and the contract you’ve signed to serve the Navy. At the end of the day that child has got to be well taken care of.”
While a woman could become pregnant at any time, pregnancy can cause less disruption during shore duty. Unplanned pregnancy on sea duty can disqualify a female Sailor from her current duty position, and possibly create a manning loss for her operational command. Ensuring Sailors understand the seriousness of becoming a parent can potentially make a big difference to overall Navy mission readiness.
“Many times we are taught to separate our personal life from our professional life, but in reality the decisions we make can affect both,” said Chief Operations Specialist Jessica Myers, senior enlisted advisor to the Navy’s Office of Women’s Policy. “It is important that male and female service members, to the best of their ability, plan a pregnancy in order to successfully balance the demands of family responsibilities with their military obligations.”
According to the Navy’s most recent Pregnancy and Parenthood Survey, 74 percent of pregnancies in the Navy were unplanned. Of those unplanned pregnancies, only 31 percent were using birth control at the time they conceived. Furthermore, in 70 percent of enlisted pregnancies, the father was identified as being in the military.
In the Navy, single parents make up 7.6 percent of the total number of service members with children. Additionally, there are approximately 84,000 dual military couples in our Navy, of which 36,000 have children. While some Sailors may intend to be single parents and thrive in that role, January’s CSADD topic promotes discussion among men and women about the benefits of planning a family.
Unintended pregnancies can jeopardize operational mission readiness for both male and female service members, and can disrupt a naval career by causing unexpected financial hardship – from the high cost of daycare to possible child support garnishment. In some cases, parenthood can also cause an unexpected and undesired increase in personal responsibilities.
Benning, who helped spearhead the initial creation of CSADD, believes the peer-to-peer education emphasis of CSADD will help ensure Sailors succeed in their family planning goals, whenever they decide to take on the responsibility of having a child.
“Life happens, and we understand that,” said Benning. “It is all about educating Sailors on family planning.”
To learn about CSADD and how to set up a chapter at your command, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/CSADD/Pages/default2.aspx.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel – Office of Diversity and Inclusion, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.