Making the most of your drill periods, AT, ADT, ADSW, etc.

After achieving moderate success in my civilian career, I enlisted in the Navy. I had no idea of the who, what, and where of navigating the Navy and making the most of my Navy career. At least I knew the why. Glamour and Intrigue? No. Service.

For awhile I waited for someone to tell me what to do. After some spinning in place and a lukewarm Eval, I figured something out. Two words. Stop waiting. Two more words. Get engaged. In essence, few care to help those who cannot or will not take the steps to figure out how to help themselves. Move and others will move with you, guide you and fuel the fire pretty much in any direction you wish to travel.

Aside from mobilization, recall, or ADSW orders, all of which are terrific ways to build your Navy resume, below are a few short suggestions for making the most of time spent working for the Navy.

1. Ask to attend schools-all schools, any schools, schools you are not required to attend as well as training that is mandatory. If an application is required, apply early and apply often. School = money and School = points. Points = retirement. Apply, apply, apply. Attend, attend, attend.

As a Reservist, you will not necessarily be required to attend some schools. Ask for them anyway. Navy Training for the job you have been selected to perform is essential, but that training will not always be assigned to you or just fall in your lap. Advanced training is a bonus. Run a request chit through the proper channels. If you are turned down, wait awhile and ask again. Ask until either someone tells you to stop asking, or your request is approved. The Navy has money, and they will spend it if the time is right. They might as well spend it on you.

2. If possible, try not to do any Navy “work” without gaining either points (pay or non-pay), or money. Non-pay drill points are a fabulous way to boost your point tally when you have to spend a half day here or there doing admin or busy work for the Navy. You volunteered to be in the Navy, but the Navy is not volunteer work. It is a mutually beneficial relationship formed in the name of service to country.

You will most likely not be offered non-pay drill points. You must ask for or schedule them. Do this early and often. If scheduling one at the last minute, walk into your handy NOSC admin office and ask if they would schedule one for you that very day. Get a paper copy of your non-pay drill as proof and keep it. Forever.

Which brings me to the third point…

3. If you wish to receive credit for whatever it is you have accomplished-KEEP A COPY. You will most likely annoy those around you by asking for copies of everything but DO NOT BE DETERRED. Find a copier and make it happen. You are the master of your own destiny. At the end of your career it’s just you, your record, and one bad year standing between you and your retirement.

Don’t be that guy.

Apply Board Primer for JO’s

Its APPLY Board Season again.  Get your package in by early August to participate.  What does this mean for you?  If you’re a newly minted JO reservist and looking to move up in the world, this is the place to start.  The old adage holds true that the most important thing to advancing as an officer is sustained superior performance in an Officer-In-Charge or Commanding Officer position.  Here’s an important thing to know though.  As a JO (O-4 and junior) the Navy is required to either pay for your travel to drill or allow you to be cross assigned from a NOSC OSU.  However, as the holder of an OIC or CO billet, you forfeit such flexibility.  So, if you allow yourself to be selected for ANY AVAILABLE command billet.  You could be schlepping it across country to lead your unit.  You have the ability to control this somewhat by restricting the area or billets that you apply for on your dream sheet.

Here’s the disclaimer on the APPLY Site, read and heed:

“I understand declining billets specifically requested on my Dreamsheet will prevent returning to my previous assignment, and I will be subject to transfer to non-pay. I understand that transfer to a non-pay status affects eligibility for certain incentives and benefits including TRICARE Reserve Select and Post 9/11 GI Bill Transferability. Detailed information regarding the change in benefit eligibility is available through the local NRA personnel department and online on the private side of The Navy Reserve Homeport.”

  Tribal knowledge says that you should accept any billet you’re selected for that you’ve put on your dream sheet.  Let me rephrase that.  If its on your dream sheet, and you get picked, you should follow through with that process and take command.  Therefore choose your billets wisely and dont list filler items that you really can’t accomodate or aren’t willing to personally pay to travel for.  Turning the billet down will only do bad things for you unless its for reasons in extremis.  If you aren’t selected for a billet on your sheet, no harm no foul.  You get to choose from whats left on the board room floor or pick a staff billet at another reserve unit via the IAP process.

Citizen Sailor Tip:

Before you haul off and apply for a bunch of stuff in APPLY, have a serious conversation with your spouse about the realities of this job and what it will require of you.  This will go so much better if you’re both onboard.

A Fabian Career Strategy – The Long Way Around

During the Second Punic War, the Romans, under the leadership of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, were pitted against the great general, Hannibal, and his Carthaginian army.  Rather than risk his army in a direct frontal assault against the legendary skill of Hannibal, Fabius, decided to wage a war of attrition.  Fabius understood that as long as Hannibal’s army was in the field, he had the advantage of time and access to resources.  Hannibal was not so fortunate.  Fabius would go on to be victorious and the rest, they say, is history.  
As an O4, I could at least make 20.  In that sense, I had time, but not much.  Like all strategy, it’s a balance between risk and reward.  For myself, I did my best to balance work, family and the Reserves.  Not everyone is so fortunate.  Although I joke that I outlasted the promotion board, there was solid performance in good billets behind it. (Even Fabius made the calculated offensive strike).   I did take longer to promote because I was a SWO in many HR type billets.  My ride towards O5 was anything, but conventional.  So, for those who feel they are up against a glass ceiling, take heart as your time may well come.
  What have I learned?  Well, as a warfare qualified officer, warfare qualified billets are best to propel your career.  If they are non-warfare type billets, do your best to ensure they are either CO/XO or OIC type-billets.  Demonstrate leadership in challenging positions when possible and be sure to highlight your leadership experiences on a letter to the board.  Yes, write a letter to the board.    
For most of us, the board will be made up of a bunch of fellow officers that do not know us and we don’t know them.  One of them will be handed your electronic record and asked, in 30 seconds or less, to explain why you deserve the next highest rank.  Without a letter, they do not know you.  They do not have any reason to support your advancement other than what they see on paper.  For many of us, especially those outside of a fleet concentration area, there may not be a whole lot of sexy warfare qualified type jobs in which we can excel.  Consequently, you need to use your letter to highlight what you have done that can be considered valuable to the Navy, to the Reserves and your warfare community.  I did not write one for years and when I finally did, I had success.  
Finally, be involved in your local Reserve community.  Become valuable to your NOSC, to your unit and to your peers.  Understand that good work is hard to hide and that will certainly help your chances.  Additionally, as you become more involved, you will find that your time in the Reserves is more rewarding.  (I can always peruse the end of the internet on my own time!)  
I cannot guarantee that any of these things will cause you to promote, but, you will have a more interesting time in the Reserves.  Who knows, the stories built upon being actively involved may make all the time and effort worth it.  Remember, there were many active elements of Fabian’s strategy.

Example Letter to the Board

Well board season is in full bloom. People are calling 1800-U-ASK-NPC with a myriad of questions about their package and the rules and regs governing the board. Beyond ensuring your record is up to date and accurate a letter to the board  is your most valuable tool. 

Here’s an example of a Letter to the Board that I wrote based on my review of packages during a previous selection board. Good letters are effective in communicating the “other stuff” to the briefer. Writing one of these can feel like you’re blowing your own horn, but its literally the only way you can fill the gaps in your record with narrative to give the briefer a sense of who you are and what you do.

Be careful though, if your language is too flowery or full of bullshido, it’ll get glazed over without a mention. This is a tactical document with a strategic goal, getting you selected. To quote Sherlock Holmes, give them straw with which to build bricks.  Or in Marine parlance, there is no fire support without ammo. 

Every senior officer wants to be a king-maker in “The Tank” and I watched more than 1 O-6,7,8 try to make a selectee from scratch. Do them a favor and give them overwhelming evidence why you should be selected. 

This won’t cover for glaring misses or poor performance for the past 5 years, but it gives you the chance to explain anomalies and have your story heard.

Where this ammo becomes invaluable is in the crunch. Two candidates side by side with the same record, the bid likely goes to the one with better advertising.

I’ve swapped out the PII details for more humorous items to keep the reading interesting, but the form and intent are clear. This is your last resort to tell the board how awesome you really are.

From: LT Quinton M. McHale, USN, SSN (123-45-678910-11-12)/ 1115


Ref: (a) SECNAVINST 1420.1 (series)

Encl: (1) Fitness Report for the period 14FEB01-15JAN31

Sir or Ma’am,

Thank you to the board for considering me for promotion to O-4. Being a Naval Officer is one of my proudest achievements, and I look forward to future opportunities to serve and lead in the Navy. Below I have provided some points for your consideration while briefing my record:

1. I had 1 PRT failure onboard the USS CHUNDERBUCKET during Cycle 1 2010, but I have since lost 40lbs and changed my lifestyle with regard to diet and exercise.

2. In my civilian job, I serve as the Assistant Vice President of Inland Harbors Incorporated in Bluff City, TN. We are a Western Rivers harbor and fleeting service for towboats and big-ass barges. We are a 24/7 marine port operations company as well as a full service barge and towboat repair shipyard.

My responsibilities for the company include the following:

A. Maintenance and repair for 24 towboats, 4 mobile dry docks, 4 cranes and a wharf facility made up of 8 barges and a floating office building.

B. Maintenance support for 6 outlying locations between Bourbon County, Kentucky and Moonshine, MS.

C. Port manager for operations in Mosquito Haven, Arkansas.

D. USCG, EPA and DOT Compliance manager.

E. Assistant contracting manager for USCG Buoy Tender yard periods (8 overhauls completed in 2014 including 3 vessels with complete engine repowers)

F. Boat operator of the M/V DIRT SQUIRREL – a 600hp truckable push-boat

G. Leadership, direction and influence over 150 people across the entirety of our operations.

H. Skilled labor recruiting for welders and mechanics. Advisory board member of local community colleges representing the needs of local industry.

3. As a reservist, I have been working to establish a SURGEMAIN Shipyard Support Unit at NOSC Hometown with sailors in the OPS Support Unit. There is a Sea Bee unit that is decommissioning and we are working hard to cross-rate those sailors into SURGEMAiN to improve their opportunities for advancement. Currently being established as a detachment under NOSC Somewhereelse, we have 20 sailors interested in joining the SURGEMAIN ranks. As the detachment grows, our goal is to establish a separate SURGEMAIN UIC under NOSC Hometown complete with APPLY selected leadership. Additionally, SURGEMAIN rates make a great hiring pool for the River industry. We have already succeeded in finding a civilian job for a First Class Machinist Mate on the river.

4. I have completed the Strategy and War segment of JPME.

5. I am also the Director of Finance of Mama’s Home Business LLC, an online boutique specializing in the production sales and custom embroidery of high quality baby and children’s clothing. I oversea purchasing from overseas suppliers, seamstress contracting, equipment maintenance and general book keeping.

6. As a personal project, I am the leading member of a small cohort of reserve Naval Officers from NOSC Hometown who manage a website called The mission of The Citizen Sailor is to be resource for new reservists who are transitioning from active duty to understand how to succeed in the reserve world. We are using our reserve mentors and experiences to write how-to articles on reserve career management, VA issues, etc.

7. Per reference (a), please include enclosure (1) in my official record for consideration by the FY16 RESERVE LINE O-4 SELECTION BOARD. Due to inclement weather and rescheduled drills, I have enclosed my most recent fitness report to ensure its inclusion in my package for the board.

Very Respectfully,


A Perspective on Managing Work Life Balance

I’m so glad I didn’t join the Army, we’d do this all the time.

Like many transitioning Navy-types, I had grand notions of having a successful civilian career in the inland rivers industry.  I also fancied maneuvering through the Naval ranks and progressing to the highest ideals of the Navy Reserve.  Enter kids, family, mortgage, 24/7 civilian job operations schedule, wife’s home business, church, etc.

Life takes on a life of its own, and you hold on with white knuckles and wait for a break.

As I floundered through my first years of reserve time, I thought “How the hell do people make this work with a private industry career that goes 24/7?”  I simply don’t have the time to make the commitments for longer terms of mobilization, ADT, ADSW, etc.

Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and family and civilian careers are my primary focus, so how do I become successful in the reserves?  My civilian career wont support my taking lots of extra time to go to schools, extended DWE’s, etc.  We’ve got a business to run, and they need to be able to depend on me all the time.  They’re supportive of me being in the reserves, but they’ve hired me to work at their business, not use their business as a lilly pad between Navy jaunts.
Well, crap.  Everyone’s going to look at my record and see a skater who is just doing the minimum to get a retirement.  Why am I bothering with this reserve stuff anyway if I cant be dedicated, make a difference and do stuff that matters?

Fail again.

Why does this look like a Che Guevara T-Shirt? Sailors for the Revolution?

First, lets look at three approaches to the Navy Reserve.  There are basically three levels of reserve commitment. The Professional, the Seasonal and the Minimal.  These are directly related to your civilian job and the aspirations you have in both your civilian and military careers.  

The Professional: There are people out there that I call “Professional Reservists.”  This is a great way to approach a reserve career almost like a government contractor.  If you work for a large defense company such as BAE, BOOZ, L3, Lockheed, etc.  You can park your civilian career here, and then mobilize or do ADSW essentially as many times as you want.  These huge organizations have enough people to continue operations while you go off and play Navy.  Consequently, you also can more intensely focus on hitting the specialized wickets in your Naval career such as command,  schools, etc.  You open yourself up to the best probability of advancement by doing lots of Navy stuff as a reservist as long as you do it well.  You’ll be seen as a team player and a company guy.  

This however is not my situation.

The Seasonalist: These are the civilian occupations which have a natural ebb and flow to their work cycle.  Farmers have a large part of winter off after harvest.  Teachers and professors have a large chunk of time for summer.  Paving construction crews and landscapers have a slow season in the winter, etc.  These types of professions have a giant blank space where people can take a 90 day set of orders and not miss too much.  You get more credit for doing more Navy stuff, but you cant dedicate ALL the time to it.

Again, not me

The Minimalist: As a minimalist, I love the Navy and being part of the military.  If we go to war, I want to play a part and do something important.  However, I’ve got a civilian career that I work 60-80hrs a week, every week.  People like me fall into the category of small business owners, family business owners, sales reps working on commission, real estate brokers, etc. We like being part of the team, but we can only dedicate the minimum requirement.  If all hell breaks loose, we want the call. We feel strongly about defending our country against threats to our way of life, but short of that we just don’t have a lot of extra time.

So, then what? Are the Minimalists just playing with a huge disadvantage?  

Lets call a spade a spade. Yes, we are.  But…

There are strategies that you can employ to improve your odds.

I had the privilege of supporting a senior officer promotion board, and I got to see how the sausage was made.  What does it take to promote to the senior ranks of the Navy as a reservist?The short answer is that it takes sustained superior performance and leadership. 

This applies both in the reserves and out .

 So easy, even HR can understand it.

Much to my surprise, I had a 1-v-1 mentoring session with the O-8 board president, who also happened to be the founder, CEO and Chairman of his own $100M private business. He gave me two pieces of advice.  

The first was to always apply for and take command billets whenever available. Sustained superior leadership trumps all. Even if you’re just a Minimalist, as the CO of a reserve unit you’re able demonstrate leadership in the space that you can dedicate to Navy work.

The second was how he accounted for all the empty space when stacked up against the Professionals and Seasonals at promotion boards.  He added his civilian experience to his FITREPs and letters to the board.  SPOILER ALERT: Nothing guarantees a promotion to flag rank.  However by telling the board about his executive experience, the board decided he was capable of being a Commander, and then a Captain in the Navy.  He gave them the ammo to vote in his favor.

He said there were years that he did not even do his Annual Training.  He simply didn’t have time.  He also said that no one was more surprised to select for flag than he was.  As an O-6 nearing 30 years, he figured he was done.  He began winding it down, and out of nowhere, he was selected.  He had just made sure the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed along the way.

Pure, Unbridled, SWOTIVATION. Your day is now complete.

Also, I had the benefit of doing my successive Annual Training back at BUPERS and saw lots of the senior officers whom I knew while on active duty. They are now retirees in their GS jobs sharing cubicles with young O-3’s and O-4’s.  

This provided a lot of perspective for me with regard to the Navy and my civilian career in general.

Its easy to get your identity tangled up in what your career is and what you do for a living, but it is so much more than that.  

No matter what, it all ends at some point.  Whether you do 30+ years in the Navy or 40 years as a towboater on the Western rivers, your career will end.  

The warning that I took was that while my career may end, my family and community would still be there around me.  Take care of your family first and your career second.  You never get back the time that you miss with young spouses before kids or your children while they’re young.  

While it is very important to perform well in your civilian and Naval careers, there’s a slippery slope into workaholism.  Don’t get your identity confused with what you do for a living. 

Remember, you only get to make one pass at this life.

SWO Reserve Component Community Issues: Accessions

The Issue:
In 2015, the Surface Reserve Component (SRC) leadership projects that we will have a looming gap in our O-4 to O-6 billets.  A PERS-3 model indicates that the SRC will be operating at 76% capacity at the LCDR level, 74% capacity at the CDR level and 59% at the CAPT level.  

Senior Officer Collar devices: AKA things that probably wont ever be on my uniform.
There is a 1998 Proceedings article titled “Listen to the JO’s: Why Retention is a Problem” that has received a surge in recirculation recently because it rings sadly true today.  Like it or not, the fate of the SRC is tied to the health and well being of the Surface AC.  These reasons of frustration and disillusionment highlight why many of our AC counterparts are leaving the military altogether and not giving the RC a shot.  
As most of us know, the AC SWO community does not talk about the RC because of a combination of honest ignorance and the fact that no CO Afloat wants to be known for encouraging his JO’s to “leave” the community.  There’s no professional incentive for them to pursue it.  There are too many other fires to put out. In short, these issues are part of the underlying current as to why the SRC is having issues filling its OPA.
Sidebar comment: 
I know what you’re thinking about the numbers discussed above.
 “If there’s fewer of us in the pool and the requirement stays the same, then I’m a shoo-in to promote!”  
Yes, statistically there is a higher probability of promotion, but just because the numbers work in your favor to promote doesn’t guarantee that it will be automatic.  There’s still room for you to fail gloriously if you don’t take it seriously.  How would you like to be the JO that couldn’t get promoted with these kind of statistics in your favor? Yeah, me neither.
So What:
A little preparation now can position you well to take advantage of the current conditions as well prepare you for a shift in future manning requirements or the civilian job market.  Be proactive. Comb through your record and make sure all your FITREPS, pictures, AQD’s, etc. are included and that any irregularities that are accounted for with letters of explanation.  
Take your records to a senior officer and ask them to review it.  See what could be improved or what needs some damage control.  Simple things like a master’s degree gotten while a civilian fall into the category of nice-to-have’s when your record is stacked against the rest.   Ultimately, you might be surprised what you find out about records management.  
This experience will also be invaluable as you help the new arrivals coming in behind you.  In the end, you want to leave yourself the maximum number of opportunities available to take advantage of. Market conditions change in the civilian world and what starts as a bright private sector career can turn around quickly.  
Don’t neglect simple disciplines as a reservist that can cause future obstacles.

The question remains for the group: How do we recruit more SWOs from the Active Component to the Surface Reserve Component? What are your thoughts?

Fitrep Guidance: Continued

Another Chapter in Getting the Most Mileage out of Your Fitrep at a Selection Board

Disclaimer! Every board is different.  The board president and the members each have a different personality and value different things.  The broad scope of experience of each member normalizes the board to a degree, but no two boards are the same.  So there is no “formula” or code to crack when dealing with board matters, rather view this as a best practices guide which reflects general good ideas.
      The BUPERSINST (1610.10 series) does not distinguish between trait marks and their weights.  Since board members are human, they will try to get inside the fitrep writer’s head and make inferences by what the trait marks say.  What would they communicate to the board by saying someone has a 5.0 in leadership? What are they communicating by NOT marking a candidate with a 5.0 in leadership?  This is where the gamesmanship of writing your own fitrep comes in.
·         Similarly with your comments, be proactive about assigning yourself the next levels of development.  Be specific in your promotion, don’t just let the EP/MP be where the recommendation stops.  Some fitrep authors don’t really know how the game is played and send up a fitrep that screams “AVERAGE PERFORMER” while sounding nice to the average reader.  Ask for command recommendations. Write soft breakouts things like my Number 4 of 40 LTs, Forced Distribution MP. 
·         Ask what your reporting senior average is when you sign your fitrep.  If they won’t tell you, that should be a red flag.  In the board, everyone immediately compares your trait average to the reporting senior average – it is an automatic litmus test see if you made the cut or the crunch.  Unless your CO includes comment like, “resetting my average.” Your position below the RSA doesn’t bode well for the board. 

For Reservists: Annotate your civilian responsibilities on your fitrep.
  • If you are the general manager of a Target, then note how many employees, assets, etc. you are in charge of. 
  • If you are a VP of a construction company, then list how many projects you’ve been responsible for, the revenue generated, personnel and equipment you had to manage to get the job done. 
  • If you’re a SME on anything from foreign affairs to cesium beam oscillators then let the Navy know what you can do for them.

In short, extend your civilian career as an asset to the Navy.  If board members can look at your civilian job and see leadership, management and sustained superior performance, then that’s another opportunity for you to make the cut.  If you don’t list it, because it’s not directly military, then you’re taking yourself out of the promotional gene pool.

Quick and Dirty: Senior Officer Reserve URL Board Debrief

The information below is from a debrief after a selection board for senior URL reserve officers.  Some helpful takeaways for all of us to remember.  Remember, your record is YOUR responsibility, and if YOU don’t take care of it and make sure its squared away, no one will.  Take time out two or three times a year to audit your record and make sure you’re not missing anything.  It can pay dividends during the board. 
“The Tank” has 6 large screens.  They are arranged as follows:
1st screen: Full length photo. Get it updated.  Be in the proper uniform.  It is amazing how many people get it wrong. Its speaks volumes.
2nd screen is your Officer Summary Record
3rd screen is your history file
Good wickets to have in your history:
  •   DH Billet
  •   O-4 XO Billet
  •   Hardware Billet – having Navy hardware (ie. Riverine boats, testing facilities, etc.) under your care.
  •   OIC Billet as an O-4
  •   O-4 CO Billet
  •   O-5 Major Command Billet
  •   Hard tours are better than Soft Tours – boots on the ground in Afghanistan vs feet wet in Tampa-stan
Screens 4-6 have other relevant material such as:
1) Leadereship Billets
2) Record EP’s Rule – MP’s OK as long as followed by EP’s/Soft breakouts (new guys will get MPs with senior guys ahead retaining EP’s)
3) JPME – this is huge and it makes a big mark in your favor if you have it
4) Masters Degree – even if its not an NPS or War College make sure you enter that info into your record
5) Soft Breakouts – maybe you didnt get the EP because of sheer numbers, but your fitrep can explain that they just ran out of space for you.  
Homesteading – staying in the same unit as an O-5 bouncing from DH to DH roles.  Never progressing upward to XO/CO roles.
Your briefers are your advocate and they make you or break you.  It’s up to you to provide them with the ammo to have enough positive to talk about.  If they don’t have anything to say, then the silence speaks for itself.  
You may be stuck in an admin unit or something totally unrelated from “the pointy end of the spear.” Don’t get frustrated. Take charge of your AOR and make it run the best it can.  Take hard jobs wherever you are to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack. Make your above and beyond effort impossible to ignore for the board members.

As always, you have to balance these things with your civilian job and your family.  Remember you get to decide what kind of SWO your going to be, so find the stuff that you can do, and do it well.  If you can’t mobilize and deploy, then work at your home unit and get the academic stuff done.  Support however you can to give yourself the best chances, just realize what the impact is of the choices you’re making.

RADM Wray’s Pointers on Career Management

RADM Wray, the senior RC SWO also provided his input to “Be Your Own Kind of SWO”
  • Seek hard jobs and do well
  • Get a mentor or two. Be a mentor
  • Key in on 1 or 2 of the 4 primary career paths.  Include OLW if possible (he’s kicking the podium, here…pay attention)
  • Get your JPME done early
  • Whenever possible get NOBC’s and AQD’s
  • Command as early and as often as possible
  • Serve on Boards.  First as a staffer then as a member
  • Do worthwhile MOB’s if possible. But perform and standout
  • Break out in a pack. Soft Breakouts work too
  • Serve on a policy board.
  • Master the art and science of FITREPs
  • Add value all the time. Ask your boss: how can I add more?
  • Study your craft. Read books, Proceedings, Navy Times. Be Fluent
  • Pace yourself.  Maintain balance between Navy, work and family.
The comment that we should “be our own kind of SWO” speaks to the flexible nature and needs of the individuals that make up the SRC.  Not everyone will want to do everything that’s required to make O-6, and that’s ok. Individuals need to factor in their families, civilian employees, etc.  Life balance remains the cornerstone required to have a successful career. At whatever level you decide to participate, you can still contribute value to the Navy and receive a fulfilling experience while serving.