Above: U.S. Navy Lt. Mo Maxie is one of several NPS students volunteering their free time on Saturdays for Breakfast for Your Brain, where military officers tutor local junior high and
high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. Right above: Marine Corps Capt. Robert Epstein helps local students with math homework.
Right below: Army Sgt. Brian Jergens, center, cuts the ribbon to his family’s new home on Dec. 12. Countless volunteers, including a large contingent of NPS defense analysis
students, worked with national non-profit Homes for Our Troops, to finish off a custom home for Jergens following his debilitating combat injuries in Afghanistan.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE BEYOND CAMPUS
On any given Saturday morning in a community study room in the Dudley Knox Library on campus, a team of NPS students works one on one with area youngsters in math, writing or whatever the children express a need for help with.
It’s called Breakfast for Your Brain, and it’s a longstanding program coordinated by the Monterey chapter of the National Naval Officers Association. It’s a, “Come by if you can help,” kind of coordination effort for the NPS students, and yet there always seems to be enough officers in place no matter how full the room gets with young boys or girls in need of help.
A handful of miles away, in nearby Seaside, a pickup basketball game ensues between a team of Marine Corps officers and a second team of teens attending a charter high school for at-risk youth. It’s something of a last chance for many of the young men and women attending this school, but there there’s no talk of math or English here.
Rather, it’s just an opportunity to play a game and potentially develop some sense of a connection between Marines and some young men and women looking for motivation and self-confidence. It’s a new program called MOTO, Mentoring Others Through Outreach, and it was the brainchild of NPS student Capt. Kimberly Julka launched this past year.
And in Hollister, about a 30-minute drive from NPS’ campus, thanks to the tireless badgering of Maj. Alex Williams, a cadre of students, mostly special forces officers, put their talents toward the finishing touches on a custom home for Wounded Warrior Army Sgt. Brian Jergens and his young family, who cut the ribbon on their new place this past December.
Sailors studying or working at the Naval Postgraduate School judge the local science fair, staff the hotline at the local rape crisis center, volunteer for reading programs at the local public library, coach, teach, mentor, advise, give.
These are stories that happen every weekend, somewhere within the reach of the campus. Every quarter, some of those making the difference will depart to dedicate their efforts elsewhere, but a new crop will always fill in their place. The impact is impossible to fully account for, but it is also equally impossible to miss.
“Serving is a family affair and it’s important for our kids to see that we take care of our own, that service is not something that ends when a veteran separates from the Army … When all of the fanfare dies down and these people start getting back to their daily lives, things are going to be very difficult. These Soldiers need to know that they have somewhere to turn, that there are people out there that they can contact. We are in this for the long haul.”
MAJ. ALEX WILLIAMS