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A Birthday Letter to the U.S. Navy!

Updated: Nov 28, 2023


Today is the birthday of the greatest Navy in the world. No other country comes close. On this day I would like to reflect on how the Navy has shaped me and the importance of these experiences in my life.


I was in the U.S. Navy from May 1992 until July 2016. I entered right after high school on a football scholarship to the United States Naval Academy. I started school a year early and was undersized coming out of high school so I elected to start my career at the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Newport, RI. I finished my naval career after two frigates, one nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a tour to Basra, Iraq, and multiple port visits to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, and other parts of Southeast Asia. When I look back on my time in the Navy I think back to the phenomenal leadership opportunities and leadership examples that were given to me at an early age. The amount of responsibility and accountability the Navy gives to its junior officers is unmatched across all the other services. You get a short break as a new division officer but after your first tour, you are on the hook to perform. No excuses..figure it out.


The Navy requires its leaders to be ‘technically and tactically proficient', always ‘self-improving’, and flexible and adaptable in times of battle (1). A quote that captures what I love so much about the U.S. Navy is - “The reason that the American Navy does so well in wartime is that war is chaos, and the Americans practice chaos on a daily basis.” - WWII German Admiral Karl Donitz.


Here are also two of my personal favorites for media that showcase U.S. Navy culture:

  • The Sand Pebbles (Steve McQueen) (2)

  • Battlefield Detectives: The War of 1812: The Chesapeake and the Shannon (3)


From the world’s first nuclear-powered Navy to the field of operations research (4) (data science before it was a thing), the Navy has always been the innovative arm of the military services and at the forefront of integrating new technologies and process improvement. The Navy's innovative culture coupled with a wide variety of job assignments and training not only challenged me but also prepared me for life post-Navy.


After retiring from the Navy after 20 years I am now focused on supply chain and healthcare challenges. I was a supply corps officer (logistician) so supply chain and transportation issues are second nature to me. For healthcare, my research and focus area is personalized medicine. Personalized medicine is the optimization of an individual's healthcare plan based on data. This is very similar to the optimization and life cycle planning I would do with the Navy’s F/A-18s. A Navy F/A-18 is the Navy’s legacy premier fighter attack aircraft. The Joint Strike Fighter is its replacement. If you haven’t seen the movie “Top Gun” or a Blue Angels airshow - please do to see what these legacy aircraft are capable of. There is a wide and expansive support network that builds and maintains these aircraft for mission readiness. To pull all the repair and supply chain data together for the most optimal and efficient “buy vs. repair” decision is not a simple task. The same challenges and issues exist with healthcare data (collecting and merging family history, electronic healthcare records, genomics, environment, patient behavior, and other data for analysis). The actors, network, and processes are much different but the same operational research and data science tools can be used. I am taking my lessons learned from Navy F/A-18 lifecycle planning, as well as other Navy training and experiences, and applying this to a patient-centric, personalized healthcare model.


I thank the Navy greatly for where I’ve been and where I am going. Happy birthday and Go Navy!

 




Jerome is a Senior Operations Research Analyst here at CANA. You can contact Jerome at jdixon@canallc.com.







 


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