In places like Raleigh, where the only Navy ships people see are on TV or in recruiting posters, the U.S. Navy sends people like two-star Rear Admiral Christina Alvarado to explain what the Navy does.
Alvarado is in the Triangle this week speaking to local groups and meeting with leaders such as Meredith College president Jo Allen, Speaker of the House Tim Moore, and Larry Perkins, vice president of PNC Arena. Since less of 1 percent of the population serve in the Armed Forces, the goal is to educate the public about the range of services the Navy provides to the country both in peacetime and war.
“It’s easy for the public to know about the Navy in areas of high fleet concentration, like Norfolk, San Diego, but Raleigh, North Carolina, has no water,” Alvarado said. “There’s no ships here and no aviation, so we don’t have a presence.”
The Navy assigns flag officers to visit areas where they have roots. Alvarado is a Raleigh native and is married to Raleigh lawyer and former politician Kieran Shanahan. Her “Executive Outreach Engagement” began Monday when she was the keynote speaker at the Memorial Day celebration aboard the USS North Carolina in Wilmington. Last September, she took an outreach trip to the Charlotte area.
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Among the Navy duties Alvarado explains to her audiences:
▪ Keeping the sea lanes open for international trade, including the $30 Billion in exports from North Carolina
▪ Deploying submarines to protect undersea internet cables that connect the world’s communication networks
▪ Pioneering technological innovations like GPS that millions use everyday
The Navy schedules 25 of outreach engagements a year, targeting communities with little or no Navy presence. The Navy also holds 15 larger outreach efforts called Navy Weeks in cities throughout the country.
“We have a responsibility to check in with the American people and let them know what we’re doing and why what we do is important, and to talk a lot about our peacetime role,”Alvarado said.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Alvarado met with a number of Triangle groups, including the Durham VA, the Rotary Club of North Raleigh, and WakeMed’s Children’s Hospital, where she gave Navy caps to patients.
“I enjoy it, because it’s so much fun to go out and see the reaction of America’s public to the uniform, particularly since they don’t see it very often,” Alvarado said. “They don’t see many female admirals, and so it’s a huge honor for me to be able to go out there and represent the Navy.”
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