Top Enlisted Leader Meets With Marines, Wraps Up Okinawa Visit
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan, April 15, 2007 The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrapped up a visit to Okinawa April 13, meeting with Marines at Camp Hansen and Camp Courtney.
During his three-day visit, Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey spoke with soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in town-hall forums and work centers, and gave the keynote speech at an Air Force Academy graduation.
At a Camp Hansen town-hall meeting Friday, Gainey noted that many of the Marines in the audience had served combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. As a combat veteran himself, the sergeant major said, he knows servicemembers have to “click on” a state of intense focus when potential danger exists and to “click off” in non-threatening situations. Not surprisingly, he said, people sometimes have trouble clicking off, even after they’ve returned home after their combat tour.
One of his prime concerns as the military’s top enlisted member, Gainey told the Marines, is ensuring that combat veterans have and take advantage of medical care, counseling services and other resources to help them in their readjustment. He urged the Marines to take care of one another, and to assist their friends in getting help if they notice what seem to be stress-related changes in behavior.
While at Camp Hansen, Gainey also toured Army and Marine Corps firing ranges and visited with sailors and Marines of the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, the 7th Communications Battalion and the Senior NCO Academy. A town-hall meeting followed at the Camp Courtney theater.
Throughout his visit to Okinawa, Gainey stressed that the services are working together more than ever before, and he urged those he met with to help in weaving a joint culture.
His top goal as SEAC, the sergeant major said, is “to make the services realize that we are more alike than we are different, and to get the enlisted leadership in the services to break down some of the cultural barriers and realize that we are truly one force fighting one war.”