By Clark Pierce

Ann Scott, wife of Gov. Rick Scott, visited two family oriented facilities Feb. 26 at NAS Jacksonville. She was welcomed aboard by NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Roy Undersander and his wife, Pam. Also greeting Scott were Commander, Navy Region Southeast Rear Adm. Rick Williamson and his wife, Robin.

Undersander said, "I learned that Mrs. Scott is an avid reader who spends time visiting students at schools across Florida, encouraging them to develop their reading and writing skills. I believe she'll be impressed with what she sees today in our early learning programs at the NAS Jacksonville Child Development Center (CDC)."

Scott said that on a previous visit to the First Coast, she met NAS Jacksonville School Liaison Officer Dawn Mills, who invited her to check out installation's CDC, as well as the Fleet and Family Support Center.

"I'm just so glad to be on your base," said Scott. " I was in the Jacksonville area today and it's very important to me to visit our military bases whenever possible. We can never say 'thank you' too much to our military personnel for their service and sacrifice to our great state and country."

"It's long been a tenet of Navy leadership that family readiness is a vitally important component of mission readiness," said Williamson. "We strive to provide a network of resources for our Navy families, in order to reassure our deployed Sailors that their loved ones are being supported."

CDC Director Mary Grenier led the tour and explained, "Our capacity is 298 children, and that includes Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten classes, infants (12 months and younger); 1-year-olds; 2-year-olds; and pre-school. There's also a waiting list for each age group, including a not-born-yet category."

She noted, "Our CDC also provides 'drop-in' care for parents who need a few hours for appointments or other activities. In January, we provided care for 359 drop-in visits."

Scott was impressed with what she saw. "Mary Grenier and her team have created amazing programs at the CDC. All of my initiatives are with children, so seeing these happy kids and attentive caregivers is near and dear to my heart."

Scott's assistant, Meghan Collins said, "Mrs. Scott cares deeply about education and has a deep commitment to kids. She believes that great readers become great learners. Also, in addition to her husband, she counts a number of family members who served in America's armed forces - so she's familiar with the military community and its challenges."

The entourage then drove to the NAS Jacksonville Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) where Scott met with FFSC Director Myrna Wilson and 10 ombudsmen from various commands. Wilson described the resources available at the center, including the Navy Ombudsman program. 

Wilson explained, "The Navy Ombudsman Program was introduced in 1970 by CNO Adm. Elmo Zumwalt as a means to address issues and concerns unique to Navy families. Most ombudsmen are the spouses of active duty members of a command. Our ombudsmen are highly trained volunteers who are able to offer support and guidance to command families - and to act as an official liaison between the command and its families. Ombudsmen are not meant to solve problems, but to direct the family member to the people who can help them solve their problems.

Scott told the group, "Having been a military wife, daughter and sister myself - plus, having a brother who retired from the military after 35 years - I appreciate the unique challenges that come with Navy life. Thank you for all you do to help make Navy families' lives run as smoothly as possible."