Washington, DC - Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert joined nearly 100 senior chaplains and Religious Program Specialists (RP) gathered for the Chaplain Corps 2014 Strategic Leadership Symposium at the Washington Navy Yard today.

CNO, along with Assistant Secretary of the Navy (M&RA) Juan Garcia and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy were among several keynote speakers scheduled for this year's symposium.

"I have a deep respect for what you all do," said Greenert. "What you bring in spiritual readiness is real and desperately needed."

Greenert first provided an update on what the Navy is doing around the world. He highlighted the maritime crossroads and the Navy's current mandate of presence and seapower. The Navy's focus is on being forward deployed to be where it matters when it matters Greenert said. Adding that, Sailors are what make our mission possible.
"After 13 years of combat deployments for our people, we can now take the time to build their resiliency," said Greenert. "The Chaplain Corps plays an important role in the professional, physical and spiritual readiness of our force."

Many of the detracting issues the Navy faces are problems both Chaplains and RP's face daily, to include Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Suicide and Operational stress control. Chaplains and RP's are one strong tool our commanding officers possess to promote positive and healthy behaviors among their crews.

"I depend on you to advise commanders on command climate," said Greenert. "It's one of those entities that remain hard to define but if you don't get it right you'll have big problems.

In addition to the traditional functions of the Chaplain Corps within the Navy assisting with readiness, they have stepped up to assist in more recent challenges.

Greenert cited their immediate actions in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting last September where 30 religious ministry teams came to the aid of those affected by the tragedy. The Chaplain Corps were also thoughtful and organized during the rollout of the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

No matter the challenge, Chaplains and spirituality are, "what we need to get us through, something to hold onto when things are hard, someone they can turn to with confidence with no agenda," said Greenert.

"Thank you all for answering the call to serve," said Greenert. "The Navy has valued the Chaplain Corps contributions since 1775, and will continue to do so."

Greenert on Friday will attend the Chief of Chaplain's Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony of Rear Adm. Mark Tidd at the Navy Yard.