USA: Navy Chief of Chaplains Visits Navy 311 Call Center

Navy Chief of Chaplains Visits Navy 311 Call Center

Navy Chief of Chaplains Rear Adm. Mark Tidd recently visited the Navy 311 Call Center located at Norfolk Ship Support Activity (NSSA) in Building LF-18 on Naval Station Norfolk.

Navy 311 has been the front door for receiving and routing incoming calls and emails from Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Coast Guardsmen, and families seeking assistance from a chaplain.

Navy 311 supports several other programs in conjunction with ChaplainCare. Those programs are: Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, SPAWAR Theater Medical Information System, and Fleet Technical Assist request.

The Call Center has been supporting the Navy since 1999. It began as the Navy Integrated Call Center, and then changed to the Global Distance Support Center in late 2004, to reflect the mission of Distance Support. In July 2012, it changed to Navy 311, in order to reflect a broader range of services to the Navy.

The call center is much like a municipal 311 number the public can use to contact the city for assistance. New York City, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Virginia Beach all have 311 services. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. You get it fixed faster if it goes to the right person the first time,” said Gregor McLeod, 311 call center program manager.

The Navy Chaplain Corps maintains a website for service members and their families to utilize. The ChaplainCare program has one Chaplain who can either answer the request or knows the Chaplain who can provide support. Through this support, Navy 311 and ChaplainCare have been able to quickly get Chaplain Support to Sailors and Marines in need.

“We’re delighted to partner with 311 Customer Care; a great system that has helped leverage and expand our reach,” said Tidd.

McLeod and Tidd toured the call center, allowing him to see personnel at work. Tidd had the opportunity to speak to employees regarding their most memorable experiences with the ChaplainCare Line.

“The ChaplainCare calls are the most memorable. You’re the one who takes care of people in need and it is very rewarding to hear their sighs of relief when you get them in contact with the right person,” said Patricia Marshall, 311 customer service representative.

“Jerry Nance, 311 customer service representative, also found the ChaplainCare calls to be the most memorable and the most challenging. “Some people call crying and upset, and often it is overwhelming. One must be very well rounded to do this job,” said Nance.

McLeod and Dr. Susan Reisinger, Navy 311 operations manager, shared with Tidd some ChaplainCare success stories. “A friend of a young Marine stationed in Japan received an e-mail which was unsettling. She sent the e-mail to ChaplainCare. She only knew the Marine’s name and location – Japan. Multiple Navy chaplains worked to identify this Marine and located him within 24 hours. Once located, it was determined the young Marine was suicidal and he was given immediate help,” said McLeod.

“In the early days of the Iraq war, the father of a deployed Marine heard a news bulletin that his son’s unit had taken casualties. On a Sunday afternoon, the father called the Navy 311 to find out if next of kin had been notified yet. Within 45 minutes, ChaplainCare located the unit chaplain and the son was able to send an e-mail to his father that he was unharmed,” said Reisinger.

When asked what he hoped Tidd would take from his visit, McLeod said, “An appreciation of the value of the ChaplainCare program, not just us answering the phones and e-mails but overall value to the Navy, and other services, of such a program in today’s environment.”

Naval Today Staff,October 17, 2012; Image: US Navy