BREMERTON , WA, UNITED STATES
The phrase “above and beyond” can sometimes be thrown around casually in the Navy. Make no mistake – Sailors and their government civilian counterparts do amazing things on a daily basis, but still, phrases can be worn out rather easily.
But to say that the Diversity Council at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (NMRTC) Bremerton went above and beyond during a self-produced video of the hospital’s numerous represented cultures and ethnicities is nothing short of an understatement.
The council, comprised of one officer, one civilian and 18 enlisted Sailors of varying backgrounds, recently aired a 15-minute in-depth video, titled “It Takes All of Us,” highlighting 16 Sailors and federal civil service staff members. They come from all over the world and are currently stationed or working at NMRTC Bremerton or one of its branch health clinics as Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Station Everett or Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jessica Gomez, Pediatrics Department leading petty officer and Diversity Council co-chairman, assisted by Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alexander Casaul and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Robert Balatbat, were all instrumental in the production of the video, but Gomez insists the idea came from higher up in the command.
“The commanding officer, Capt. Shannon Johnson, saw a video some Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy did,” said Gomez. “It inspired us to see if our command could make one, too. The CMEO (Command Managed Equal Opportunity manager, Lt. Shanece Washington), reached out to me as co-chairman and asked if I was willing to take on this amazing opportunity and to meet with the command master chief on his vision for the video. I said, ‘Yes!’”
After accepting the role, Gomez then met with Command Master Chief (CMC) Robert Stockton and discussed the CMC’s vision where the Navy would be in 100 years, a theme explored in the final video production product. Stockton indicated the need to include staff’s diverse background, from active duty to civilian and retired military.
Gomez knew she couldn’t make the command’s vision a reality alone, so she enlisted the help of two additional hospital corpsman to help make the dream a reality.
“I may not have been the best man for the job, but I was available and willing to learn as I went,” said Balatbat, Pediatric Specialty Clinic coordinator and the video’s videographer.
Balatbat said the hardest part of the project was the learning curve required to gain the skills necessary to make the video happen.
“I had to learn the skills needed to make the video as we went along,” said Balatbat. “The only equipment we had was my old, outdated camera and a cheap microphone. I think the video turned out well considering those limitations.”
To Balatbat’s credit, his producer said that his ability to capture the command’s vision for the video is what made it so successful.
“We had many conversations on what I wanted it to look like, how I wanted to capture it,” said Gomez. “I even told him certain documentaries to watch that had filming styles I wanted to use. When he showed me the first few interviews we had, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. He put his heart into it, and it shows in the final product.”
Another Sailor that worked on the video was Casaul, who worked as a self-described “creative consultant,” but who Gomez said was instrumental in helping conduct interviews and video clip selection.
“I think the hardest part about making the video was trying to control my emotions,” said Casaul, Pediatrics Department assistant leading petty officer. “We interviewed many people and everyone’s story was powerful in its own way. But some of these people have been through so much to get where they are, and those sad or hard moments sometimes got to me. Moreover, it made me think about my life and how far I’ve come personally.”
The video features nearly a dozen different ethnicities and nationalities including Black, Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian-American, as well as Sailors and civilians spanning the globe from such locales as Ghana, India and the Philippines.
“We wanted to make sure that not only do we encompass a wide variety of demographics that showcases the racial diversity we have in the military but also represent junior Sailors all the way to the most senior enlisted and officers,” said Balatbat.
The command’s ranking senior officers also participated in the video. Capt. Shannon J. Johnson, Naval Hospital Bremerton/NMRTC Bremerton commanding officer said she was blown away by the counsel’s final product.
“The video produced by our Diversity Council, along with several extremely talented members of our team is of higher quality than I have seen anywhere in the Department of Defense,” said Johnson. “It is extraordinarily powerful, thought provoking and inspiring. What makes it so powerful and impactful is the authenticity and capacity for insight that was demonstrated by all who participated.”
Johnson said that the hallmark of a high-functioning team is that all members feel valued and are comfortable sharing their perspectives and insights gained from their unique experiences.
“As leaders we must constantly work to promote a culture where every member of the team is seen, and is encouraged to speak-up,” said Johnson. “This is the type of culture that will ensure our Navy is able to attract and retain the diverse, talented workforce we need to excel in innovation and high-velocity learning, and ultimately to win on every front.”
Gomez, Casaul and Balatbat said they all agree on what they want people to take away from the stories shared in the video: keep talking to each other.
“It’s important to keep the conversation going,” said Gomez. “Keep telling and listening to each other’s stories. From that discussion, we create emotional connections and inspire others to set a course for change, for equality, for the simple hope of our children living in a better world. To combat racism, it really does take all of us.”
The “It Takes All of Us” video can be viewed in its entirety on the Naval Hospital Bremerton official Facebook page.
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|Date Posted:||10.21.2020 17:32|
|Location:||BREMERTON , WA, US|
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