Sailors From USS West Virginia Volunteer with Non-Profit Organization


Sailors from the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) volunteered with the non-profit organization Habitat for Humanity in Virginia Beach, Va., Jan. 18.

The crew of volunteers helped put the finishing touches on four newly constructed three bedroom, two bathroom homes, which Habitat for Humanity and its volunteers will present to families Jan. 21.

“For most people, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life,” said Chief Fire Control Technician Angel Rivera, West Virginia’s fire control and torpedo division leading chief petty officer. “Imagine receiving a gift like this from a group of people. It is a great way to give back.”

The submariners, along with several other volunteers from the Hampton Roads community, have volunteered at two sites in Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, Va. since their arrival in 2011.

“I love helping the families,” said Missile Technician 3rd Class Robert Gloden from Yale, Mich., and West Virginia’s volunteer coordinator. “I have met most of the families that we are building these homes for and they are great people. With the economy being the way it is now, these projects help people who may be struggling, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, get an interest-free mortgage,” said Gloden. “It’s helpful for the command to be supportive like this in the community and also lets them know that we are here to support Virginia residents and help out the best we can.”

The team touched up paint, sanded walls, covered linoleum floors and performed small landscaping jobs at the Virginia Beach site, but has assisted with building homes from the bottom-up.

“We can do anything that they need us to do as long as there is a supervisor or someone there to guide us,” said Rivera. There’s no shortage of Habitat sites in Hampton Roads and helping the community is our number one priority. Since our ship is in dry dock for at least the next year, we have plenty of opportunity to volunteer.”

In addition to all of their own efforts on the Habitat projects, the West Virginia Sailors have plenty of help from their veteran counterparts in the local community as well.

“It’s great, rewarding work volunteering with Habitat for Humanity,” said retired Rear Adm. Stanley Bryant. “It makes the community feel good to see the Sailors out here and it makes the Sailors feel good because they get to do some work in the community that they can recognize. They are nice young people and it’s good to see them out here.”

Bryant is the chairman of a newly established Habitat for Humanity program called “Habitat for Humanity For Heroes.” The program will offer home ownership opportunities to active duty, retired, honorably discharged veterans and surviving families similar to the traditional Habitat for Humanity Program.
While the project Bryant and the West Virginia team are currently working on is not for a veteran’s family, their efforts are still the same.

“These young folks are working hard no matter what it is they are asked to do,” said Bryant. “We really appreciate getting up close and personal with the military volunteers because they always energize everybody,” said Bryant. “You can’t ask for a better qualified more fun group of volunteers.”

West Virginia, commanded by Cmdr. Adam Palmer, is assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 10 and permanently home ported in King’s Bay, Ga., but is currently undergoing an Engineered Refueling Overhaul at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.

The sole mission of ballistic-missile submarines like West Virginia has been strategic deterrence since their inception in 1960. The SSBN provides the nation’s most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability, always ready and vigilant in a secure and survivable posture to rapidly respond to national tasking.

Naval Today Staff , January 20, 2012