HAMPTON, Va. (May 14, 2014) – Since her first experience working with veterans at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital during hospital corpsman school in Great Lakes, Ill., Chief Hospital Corpsman April Harrison from Colquitt, Ga., assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), has been giving back to veterans throughout her career.
Since completing hospital corpsman school 17 years ago, Harrison has served veterans at VA facilities near Camp Lejune, N.C., Portsmouth, Va., Atlanta, and now near Hampton, Va.
Onboard Lincoln, Harrison serves as the command community relations (COMREL) coordinator, Sexual Assault Prevention Response facilitator, Casualty Assistance Calls Officer, and serves as the COMREL chairperson for the Chief Petty Officer 365 (CPO 365) training program.
“I think the CPO 365 program is good because it prepares the prospective Chiefs for an entire year, as opposed to just a six week transition,” said Harrison. “They get more education and knowledge based training, and they also do a lot of COMRELs.”
Harrison said that performing COMRELs is a great way to give back to the community, especially when it involves veterans.
“A lot of them don’t have families nearby to support them, so this is one way we can give back by assisting them to their appointments, participating in a game of Bingo or just providing companionship,” said Harrison. “We also love listening to their war and sea stories.”
Harrison said that the reality of losing a patient, a female retired Chief yeoman, helped her grow mentally. Even though they weren’t connected by heredity, they became close through daily interaction and their common service to their country.
“They need that type of support because some of them don’t have the family support that is necessary,” said Harrison. “As long as I know that I am doing all I can to give back, and if I happen to be in that situation, there would be someone to come by and look out for me as well,” said Harrison.
Lincoln is currently undergoing a refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Lincoln is the fifth ship of the Nimitz-class to undergo a RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet and will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s defense.
Visit the Navy’s official website for more information on the USS Abraham Lincoln and see the ship CPO Harrison works on, and check out photos of the service projects the USS Lincoln’s crew members are helping out with during their refueling overhaul.
Related Story: Naval chief petty officers visit VA hospital in Virginia (navy.mil)