Today is a day of immense pride and joy as we celebrate our brethren who have ascended to the esteemed ranks of Senior and Master Chief. Our hearts are filled with warmth, and our spirits with admiration for your dedication, perseverance, and unwavering commitment to our beloved U.S. Navy.
Being advanced to these honorable ranks is a testament to your resilience, leadership, and unwavering commitment to our cause. You are now stewards of a rich legacy, charged with the duty of mentorship, guidance, and, above all, care for those under your watch.
However, as we bask in this moment of joy and achievement, we must not lose sight of the challenges ahead. Our Navy grapples with critical issues that need our immediate attention. We face an alarming crisis in terms of mental health, retention, and toxic leadership. Our comrades are battling depression, PTSD, and are feeling unheard and unappreciated. These issues have resulted in an unprecedentedly high rate of substance abuse, domestic violence, and suicide – much higher than the national average.
We need to be the change that our Navy needs. Leadership can make a world of difference – I’ve seen it firsthand, moving from ship to ship. Some are havens of morale and cohesion, while others are mired in despair. The primary difference? Leadership.
It’s not an easy road ahead, but it’s a road we must walk. Let’s rise to the occasion and fight for our Sailors, or make room for leaders who will. We can’t let our brethren feel like they’re alone like they’re not cared for. We need to be the support they need and deserve.
Let’s take this moment to commit to being a part of the solution. Let’s strive to be empathetic leaders, caring mentors, and a beacon of hope and support for our fellow Sailors. Remember, we can’t change everything overnight, but we can make a difference for our people – ALL OF THEM.
We have the power to turn the tide, to make our Navy a place of pride, support, and resilience. So, to our newly minted Senior and Master Chiefs, I say this – congratulations on your remarkable achievement. You are the torchbearers of change, and I believe in your ability to lead our Navy toward a brighter, healthier, and stronger future.
Below I have included a link to my original message to my Brothers & Sisters in service on their special day, my reflections on the need for, and my charge to provide strong, empathic, servant leadership, and an excerpt from a standard “charge book” charge I have given many newly minted CPOs, which I offer publicly, now.
Warm regards, and best wishes to you all.
James R. Foster II
Chief Boatswain’s Mate, USN