NIOC Hawaii makes quilts for veterans a courtesy success

NIOC Hawaii executive officer, Cmdr. Michael Salehi, Chief Cryptologic Technician Networks Mitchell Sheppard, and Chief Cryptologic Technician Collection Michael Koss present a blanket to retired Adm. Ronald J. Hays at the VA Center for Aging. Hays served in the Navy from 1950 to 1988, retiring as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Command.

Story and photo by CTIC Gloriana Jensen

NIOC Hawaii Public Affairs

Sailors from Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii Chief Petty Officer’s (CPO) 365 program, gathered at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Aging at Tripler Army Medical Center Jan. 29, to deliver 68 lap quilts they had been working on for nearly a year.

The CPO 365 is a year-long program designed to ensure the CPO Mess and first class petty officers are continually and steadily developing to succeed in future leadership positions and affords command the flexibility to conduct education and training in alignment with the Navy ethos and Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment.

As part of the program, first class petty officers from NIOC Hawaii volunteered their time to help others.

Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 1st Class (IW/ EXW/SW/AW) Justin Mullins proposed the idea of volunteering at the VA Center for Aging last year as a CPO 365 community relations (COMREL) event.

NIOC Hawaii’s CPO 365 program is organized by departments named after ships.

Mullins’ “ship,” USS Jamestown, was looking for a COMREL where their ship could get involved in while keeping the spirit of paying respect to naval heritage.

Mullins and his chief, Cryptologic Technician (Networks) Chief (IW/ EXW) Mitchell Sheppard, came together to set up monthly bingo games at the VA Center for Aging.

“The veterans here love the days we come to host bingo. Not just for the recreation aspect, but because we come in uniform and that means a lot to them,” Sheppard said.

During one monthly bingo event, Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class (IW) Amanda Phillips noticed the veterans were cold, and veterans’ hospital blankets would often get tangled in their wheelchairs. At that moment, the service project turned into an even bigger vision.

What began as a CPO 365 COMREL project, drew the attention of other Sailors in the command and family members outside of Hawaii.

Phillips and her chief, Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Chief (IW/ AW) Emily Klinefelter, took the lead.

“I knew several people who liked to sew, knit, and crochet in their off-duty time. So we began to gather interest in making lap quilts that would keep our veterans warm, without posing a safety hazard,” Phillips said.

Individuals who wanted to get involved but were unable to make a blanket, participated by donating fabric and other supplies.

Phillips, Klinefelter, NIOC Hawaii Sailors, and family members have made 68 quilts since March 2017.

NIOC Hawaii delivered blankets to the 39 current residents at the VA Center for Aging, leaving a few left over for future residents.

“We’d like to continue this project to make sure future patients and residents at the VA Center have a token of our appreciation for their service to our country,” Phillips said.

Jennifer Hastings, recreation manager at the VA Center for Aging, expressed gratitude to NIOC Hawaii for their efforts to the veterans.

She hopes it will inspire other groups on Oahu to volunteer at the VA Center for Aging and additional service projects needed to care for the veterans.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: News