OMA: Chamber of Commerce Members Participate In 3rd Annual Military Orientation Day

Chamber of Commerce Members Participate In 3rd Annual Military Orientation Day
By ITSN Alexa Gonzalez
The Dolphin
April 17, 2014
{Military Orientation Day}
GROTON, Conn. - Members from Naval Submarine Base New
London’s (SUBASE) leadership and Eastern Connecticut Chamber
of Commerce stand together on SUBASE’s waterfront during the
group’s Military Affairs Session, April 10.
GROTON, Conn. - Members of the local community received a behind-the-gates tour of Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) and Southeastern Connecticut military installations and commands during the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Leadership Program’s third annual Military Affairs Session, Apr. 10.
Thirty-five business and community leaders from such sectors as banks, healthcare facilities, and service organizations visited SUBASE as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), the Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group (TASMG) and Camp Niantic of the Connecticut National Guard, for a day filled with tours, briefs, and activities.
In welcoming the group at the day’s kick-off, Bob Ross, Executive Director of the State of Connecticut’s Office of Military Affairs, spoke to participants about the significance of one percent of American society.
“You have a long but exciting day ahead of you,” said Ross. “You’ll get to see what a very important one percent of America is doing for you, because right now, only one percent of our society is involved in military service.”
To raise the awareness of even more citizens, Ross encouraged participants to share the insights and experiences they gained from the day within their own circles of influence.
“By talking about what you’ve seen and the service members you’ve met back at the office or during other interactions, you can help raise awareness and appreciation in the other 99 percent of Americans who have increasingly fewer interactions with the military.”
From flying in Connecticut National Guard helicopters and touring the TASMG aviation maintenance facilities, Military Affairs Session allowed Chamber participants to see and experience various roles and missions carried out by members of the Guard.
Maj. Gen. Thad Martin, Adjutant General for the Connecticut National Guard, highlighted the breadth and width of the Guard’s operations.
“Connecticut’s National Guard is one of the best kept secrets in this region of the state,” said Martin, pointing out that since 2003, more than 5,000 service members from Connecticut National Guard have been deployed. “Locally the Guard has conducted five large deployments in response to events such as hurricanes and winter storms under the governor, and continues to deploy to places like Afghanistan.”
Martin also spoke to the group about the National Guard’s good fortune over the last few years to have benefited from infrastructure investments. One of the biggest benefits being the state-of-the-art training facilities at Camp Niantic which participants had a chance to tour.
The day’s experiences with the National Guard were insightful for Patrick Turek, a specialist at Backus Hospital.
“What the military has done for us today is really appreciated,” said Turek. “I was able to check off riding in a helicopter from my bucket list thanks to the National Guard, and it’s really opened my eyes to see how the military is involved in economic relationships with public and private partners in the Eastern region.”
As Chamber members transitioned to learning about the local sea services, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy opened the doors to its Officers’ Club where participants had a moment to recharge and enjoy a lunch buffet before proceeding to Hamilton Hall for overviews of the Academy’s leadership program and local Coast Guard operations. Participants valued the opportunity, information, and “sea stories” relayed by Dr. Ira Martin of the Academy’s Institute for Leadership and Capt. Ed Lubanski, Sector Commander, USCG Sector Long Island Sound.
“The lunch was outstanding,” said Michael Ballirano, branch manager for Charter Oak Federal Credit Union. “Having the opportunity to participate in the helicopter ride, then touring the aviation facility was truly tremendous and extremely fun, but it was nice to have this lunch and see the Academy. I live around the corner and drive past it every day and I always wondered if I would see what’s behind these gates. Now I can tell others how inviting and beautiful this location is.”
The Navy hosted the last tours of the day, and Capt. Carl Lahti, SUBASE commanding officer, provided a brief on the submarine force and base operations to participants.
“Our Nation principally calls upon Groton for deployable, combat-ready submarines and crews, and a corps of professionally trained submariners,” said Lahti. “Our job at SUBASE is to provide the services and the infrastructure, and create the environment, to ensure the waterfront and school house can deliver on that call.”
Lahti then joined the Chamber members on a tour of the Pressurized Submarine Escape Trainer in Momsen Hall and the Virginia Weapons Handling Trainer and Torpedo Lab in Wilkinson Hall, before concluding their Military-Defense Day experience with a top-side tour of the Virginia class fast-attack submarine, USS California (SSN 781).
Jill Drobiak, a tax accountant at CohnReznick, was amazed at the hard work that goes into training men and women to make them “fleet ready” for the Navy and Submarine Force.
“To walk out on the pier with the subs, see how the trainers work, and go behind the scenes for the day-to-day operations, was a great experience.” said Drobiak. “I feel like I have a much better understanding of what military members go through, and I can say it doesn’t seem easy.”
As the Chamber’s third annual Military Affairs Session concluded, organizers felt the day lived up to expectations and more.
“I think it was a very memorable day for all of our participants,” said Megan Cronin, Program and Event Manager for the Chamber. “I’m seeing them spreading the good word on social media already!”
  {Military Orientation Day}   {Military Orientation Day}
GROTON, Conn. - Chief Warrant Officer Eric Nabors, Dive Officer for Naval Submarine School (SUBSCOL) Pressurized Submarine Escape Trainer, right, demonstrates the operations of the trainer in Momsen Hall to members of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce as part of their tour of Naval Submarine Base New London’s Military Affairs Session, April 10. NIANTIC, Conn. - Members of the Connecticut National Guard return from an aerial tour to escort passengers from the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce off the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and back onto CAMP Niantic, April 10.
{Military Orientation Day} {Military Orientation Day}
NIANTIC, Conn. - Capt. Rahenkamp, from the Connecticut National Guard, (center), shows members from the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce the Rifle Weapon Simulator on their tour of CAMP Niantic during the Military Affairs Session, April 10. NEW LONDON, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce members pose for a group photo outside of Hamilton Hall at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy during the Military Affairs Session, April 10.

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