Family Support Program Helps Navy Reserve 'Seabees' Perform Missions

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole Harmon
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2009 - Camaraderie and caring are among the reasons why Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24 was honored by the Defense Department for superb support of its servicemembers' families, the reserve unit's senior noncommissioned officer said recently.

"Our families continue to support us in our absence by being the foundation of our freedom, as without them we could not complete our mission," Master Chief Petty Officer John T. Bonaccorso said.

"The family readiness program and our ombudsman," Bonaccorso said, "allow us to provide support to those who we love, regardless of the miles between us."

Based at Huntsville, Ala., NMCB 24 was among seven National Guard and reserve units that received 2008 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Awards during a Feb. 13 Pentagon ceremony.

"This award would not have taken place without the help and hard work of our nine detachment ombudsmen," Renee' White, the unit's top ombudsman, said.

All of the unit's ombudsmen are volunteers, White said, adding that most are spouses of servicemembers belonging to the command. The main purpose of the unit's ombudsman program is to ensure family readiness and to support the battalion's mission, White said. The program supports families and promotes camaraderie, she said, by providing information of interest at family-member gatherings and through publications.

"We strive to make sure our Seabees and their families are cared for," White said. "Our saying is: 'No family left behind.'"

The Navy's Seabees are skilled in all facets of construction, Bonaccorso explained, including dwellings and road and bridge building and repair.

"The Navy Seabee battalions are the construction team of choice, because we bring so much to the table," Bonaccorso said.

NMCB 24 is preparing for an upcoming deployment, Bonaccorso said. "Without families supporting us," he added, "we couldn't go forward and do this."

(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole Harmon serves with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24. Gerald J. Gilmore of American Forces Press Service contributed to this article.)

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