Lessons Learned Applied Overseas – by David Ebner
Brother Geary, formally known as Lieutenant Junior Grade Shaun Geary, was the Damage Control Assistant aboard the USS Porter. Shaun was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy in December of 2009, after graduating from the Naval ROTC program at the University of South Florida. Along the way, he received a scholarship to the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at University of South Florida. During the 2005 fall semester, Shaun joined the Chi Phi Fraternity. He served the Fraternity as the Chapter Beta, Delta, New Member Educator, and Alumni Relations Chairman. In 2007, after a Membership review that left Delta Zeta with eight Brothers, he took over as Alpha.
Brother Geary believes that some of the lessons he learned as an officer in his Chi Phi Chapter have directly assisted him as an officer in the U.S. Navy. “I tell people a lot that working with my peers in leadership positions in the Chapter, and making decisions for the betterment of the Chapter regardless of whether your peers were fans of that decision, was a unique challenge. When I graduated and got out into the fleet, I found myself in a leadership position where I had people older than me that I managed. I had to make decisions for the group and for the betterment of the Navy and the ship. That was the biggest takeaway that I had from being in the Fraternity.”
Since his graduation in December of 2009, Brother Geary spent 24 months as a commissioned officer on deployment. Shaun reported to his first ship, USS Massa Verde and was deployed a few weeks later to Haiti to help with the earthquake relief efforts in January of 2010. From there, he continued on a seven-month deployment to the Middle East before returning in August of 2010. He deployed again on the same ship with less than two weeks’ notice in March 2011 to return home in January of 2012. He was able to leave the ship early to get married on January 27 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In March 2012, Shaun detached from his command on the USS Mesa Verde to attend Damage Control School. He then flew out to meet his new ship, the USS Porter in May 2012.
Brother Geary had this message for all the Chi Phis in a ROTC Program across the country, “Challengers to a junior officer in any branch of the military are going to be universal, you are going to deal with personnel issues. You need to take care of your people. You really have to take the meaning of leadership to a new level. You will have to understand what it means to be responsible and accountable for something. For those Brothers who are in ROTC right now, just knowing how to balance life, Brotherhood and ROTC in itself is a challenge. Unfortunately, it does not get easier. Once you get out to whatever branch you’re going to serve in, it just kind of picks up from there. Whether you deploy right away or stay stateside, you are going to have people serving under you and missions to accomplish. You’re probably already on the right track, so keep your head up, get ready to work some long hours, keep a positive mental attitude and it will save you in the long run.”
(Originally published in the online edition of the Chi Phi Chackett – to read the entire article, check out http://www.chiphi.org/chakettonline/articles/2013/05/lessons-learned-applied-overseas/)