SUBASE helps Chamber of Commerce Members Participate in renewed Military Affairs Day


By: Petty Officer 3rd Class Maxwell Higgins

May 12, 2022


GROTON, Conn. - Members of the local community received behind-the-gates tours of Naval Submarine Base New London (SUBASE) and Southeastern Connecticut military installations and commands during the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Leadership Program’s Military Affairs Day, last month.

Highlighted by flying in a Connecticut National Guard Black Hawk helicopter, riding a Coast Guard Response Boat, and touring the Navy’s Virginia Class fast-attack submarine USS California (SSN -781), 26 business and community leaders from such sectors as banks, healthcare facilities, and service organizations were introduced to the roles, missions, and impact of the military services in their “backyard.”

The day was organized by SUBASE, the other military commands, and the Chamber as part of the Chamber’s leadership program that identifies future leaders throughout the region.

“I can think of few better ways to give these business and community leaders a first-hand understanding our military’s presence here in Connecticut then a full day immersion,” said Captain Kenneth M. Curtin, Jr. SUBASE Commanding Officer. “At the macro level, they get to see how our nation as a whole benefits, and on the micro level they get to see how the local economy and community benefit.”

A renewed annual opportunity after a two-year hiatus due to the COVDI-19 pandemic, Military Affairs Day participants visited SUBASE as well as the U.S. Coast Guard Station New London, and the 1109th Theater Aviation Support Maintenance Group (TASMG) and Camp Nett of the Connecticut National Guard, for a day filled with tours, briefs, and activities.

Chamber leaders were excited to get the day back on the Leadership Program’s calendar.

“The Military Affairs session is one of the most impactful, eye-opening sessions of our Leadership program,” said Megan Cronin, the Chamber’s Vice President. “Most of our participants have never been behind the fence at any of our local military institutions. I’ve seen participants start the day in wonder and end the day in awe.”

A force behind the Military Affairs Day’s inception in 2012 was Bob Ross, Executive Director of the State of Connecticut’s Office of Military Affairs.
Ross helped welcome participants at the start of their day, noting the day’s goal was for them for them to gain an understanding of the “huge positive impact” of the military throughout the region.

“Every day, in significant ways, our local military is making a difference for our nation, state, and you,” said Ross. “You may not be aware because so few in our society are involved in military service. And you may not see because so much of what the local service and installations do is behind fence lines and unseen. Today, your eyes will be opened.”

Ross also highlighted to participants how Connecticut’s defense industry and military bases produce billions of dollars in economic activity throughout the state, with large and small businesses in virtually every municipality.

Both Ross and Curtin encouraged participants to share the insights and experiences they gained from the day within their own spheres of influence.
“Technology, systems, and platforms are impressive, but I know you will be more impressed with the young uniformed service members you meet. Their hard work and sacrifice, and love of country and what they do is inspiring,” emphasized Curtin.

“Talk about what you’ve seen and the service members you’ve met back at the office and in your other interactions in the community or even at home,” said Ross. “By doing so, you can help raise awareness and appreciation in all those Americans who haven’t seen it and have few interactions with our military.”
The day’s experiences did make lasting impressions.

“I can’t even begin to say how much I enjoyed the whole day,” said Darlene Goldstein of accounting firm Garvey, Steele, & Bancroft, LLP. “I truly appreciate everything the military does to keep all of us safe and find all that they do fascinating.”

Deborah Denfeld, a senior project manager at engineering and environmental consulting firm Fuss & O'Neill, Inc., felt the day had many “so many takeaways,” from observations of military and civilian integration and dedication of service to the specialized military equipment.

“All of Connecticut needs to ‘see’ Southeastern Connecticut’s critical role in its contributions to the U.S. economy and sovereignty,” said Denfeld.
Participants also repeatedly noted the dedication of area service members.

“I loved seeing how passionate and inspiring our military personnel are,” said Cynthia Palmer, Assistant Vice President at Dime Bank.
Stacy Herr, Program & Event Manager for the Chamber who helped organize the day and accompanied participants throughout, agreed.

She reflected that as Chamber participants were part of a leadership program, the insight relayed from military leaders and members throughout the day made it “enlightening” and “absolutely perfect.”

“Thank you for the opportunity to learn, and for sharing your pride and passion with us,” Herr concluded.

Click here to view this article as it originally appeared on the DVIDS website.