I bet you didn’t know that there were two paths when considering the Navy as a career. Listen to them right now from Lieutenant Jason Clements of the United States Navy.
Pete: All right, guys. I told you, just a bit ago, that we have a great guest today and we sure do. Our guest is Lieutenant Jason Clements of the United States Navy and he’s a recruiter for officer programs here and he’s with the Navy recruiting district of Jacksonville.
Pete: And, first off, Lieutenant, I want to thank you for your service and welcome you to Hard Work-Ah.
Lt. Clements: Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Pete: Yeah. I’m really glad you’re here. Now, you’ve had an interesting career journey with the Navy. If you would, tell me what got you to go into the Navy even the first place?
Lt. Clements: Well, so, I grew up in a Navy town over in Pensacola, Florida. There’s a couple of large installations. Whiting Field and NAS Pensacola among a few. And my father was a retired Master Chief in the Navy.
Pete: All right. So, you ate your corn-
Arren: That’s a [crosstalk 00:07:12]-
Pete: And you ate your peas, right?
Lt. Clements: Yeah. I did. It was predestined.
Lt. Clements: So, I enlisted in the Navy immediately out of high school. Did six years with the United States Navy Seabees. After that point in time I decided it was time to get out and go to college. I took a little bit of a break in between and started a family, started a career. And felt like there was more that I could do. So, I recommissioned into the Navy back in 2010 as an officer.
Pete: Outstanding. Outstanding. Now, a lot of you know my career journey. I spent seven years in the Navy and I went from E1 up to E5. I was a second class petty officer. I was a jet engine mechanic and I owe so much to my Navy experience. Taught me a sense of mission, unquestioned reliability, attention to detail. I mean, these are some things that I knew. I knew what a good leader was and I understood what a good leader wasn’t, too. I mean, I became a different person, as a result of the navy.
Pete: And I just think it’s wonderful, too. And when you got out, how was your college paid for? Did you pay for that yourself? Or was there a program that, while you were in the Navy, helped pay for your college?
Lt. Clements: No, absolutely. It was the GI Bill, which has changed forms over the years. It’s even better now than it was when I was able to take advantage of it. Without the GI Bill, without the Navy, I never would have had the opportunity to go to college.
Pete: Wow. Wow. And how is that? Can you explain a little bit about the GI Bill?
Lt. Clements: Sure. So, the GI Bill, as it currently is called, is the post-911 GI Bill. It allows people to go to college. Your tuition and books are paid for and you also receive a stipend for your housing through the entire time you’re there as an E5.
Lt. Clements: And it pretty much covers everything that you want to go to. Any college that you want to go through, it’ll cover the four years. It’ll cover everything. It’s an amazing program. It gives a lot of people a lot of opportunities that they otherwise might not have had, just as my case.
Pete: Right. When I was in high school, I did well enough in high school, but college wasn’t an option for me. And I enlisted, and while I was in, I attended night school, weekends, and the Navy paid, while I was in, 75% of my tuition, while I was in, as long as I kept a C average or better. I paid the 25%, which I thought was fair. You know what I mean? You got to have a little skin in the game. And I also paid for my books.
Pete: And when I graduated from college, I had zero student load debt. Zero.
Arren: Isn’t that amazing? So, I was also a scholarship kid. It wasn’t through the Navy, but I did have a full scholarship to UF and I know you’re a Seminole, so this is-
Lt. Clements: That’s all right. We won’t hold it against you.
Arren: It’s okay. And I will say that, going through school and having a scholarship, you’re just able to focus on those studies 100% better than you are when you have to worry about the finances and where they’re coming through. And also trying to manage your time with going to a second job and trying to do that alongside studies to pay for school.
Arren: And so, I will say that having a scholarship and having everything paid for definitely lifts the burden off your shoulders that you can focus and get that degree that you want.
Lt. Clements: Indeed. Indeed. And the other side of the GI Bill is, you have the VA support. There’s a support staff at every college-
Arren: Oh, that’s awesome.
Lt. Clements: Or at least very nearby a college. They can help you walk through that daunting task of getting involved in college and getting started. And, once you’re in the groove, everything works really smoothly. But a lot times, it’s a little intimidating for people to get started.
Arren: Oh, yeah.
Lt. Clements: So, not only do you have the GI Bill to help you financially, there’s a support staff there as well.
Arren: Oh, that’s awesome.
Pete: Right. Right.
Arren: I wish I had that.
Pete: And I know when I went, like I said, I worked full-time and then I was going to nights, weekends, but I was a more mature student than maybe-
Arren: Yeah, right?
Pete: Your typical 18-year-old that just jumps into the fray and might get distracted, let’s just say, a little bit. I couldn’t. I was glued to it and I made sure I got my grades, because I had to get that paid for.
Pete: Can you explain for folks, what are some of the great things about being in the Navy? For me, I had a sense of … I wanted to protect the company, country, excuse me. I wanted to protect our freedoms and it felt good to put the uniform on and to just be there serving others. What’s some of the good things about being in the Navy now?
Lt. Clements: Oh, that’s a pretty long list. For me, personally, it was, as you said, it’s service to country. That’s a driving factor. Again, based on my background, growing up in a Navy town with a Navy family, a large majority of the people in my family have joined the military.
Lt. Clements: So, that was a big driving force as well, but there’s also, again, the educational benefits that we just spoke about. The income is comparable to what you would receive on the outside. The major difference there is, you get on-the-job training that you don’t typically get when you’re in the civilian sector.
Lt. Clements: It’s hard to get a job. You get stuck in that do-loop of, I don’t have enough experience to get the job, but I can’t get the job and get the experience so that I can get the job. It’s something that you don’t necessarily deal with, with the Navy.
Pete: As a career coach and someone that’s run staffing companies for many years, I know that loop and I see that happen quite a bit. It’s few and far between when the employer says, “Come to me. I’m going to train you. I’m going to give you skills that you don’t have and yet I’m going to pay you while you’re there”.
Arren: Oh, yeah.
Pete: You’re a reservist, right? You have a full-time job outside of the military, is that correct?
Lt. Clements: Normally. I’m actually on a recall right now. A voluntary recall to become a recruiter. Typically, yes, it is a part-time job. That’s generally the easiest way to describe the reserves. You always hear on the radio stations and the commercials on TV. You get that one weekend a month and two weeks a year and there you go. That’s the reserves.
Lt. Clements: It’s become a lot more than that these days. We’re very involved and very comparable to the active duty component. But there are opportunities, if you just want to do the one weekend a month and then two weeks a year. That’s the way a lot of people go, but there’s also a lot of opportunity if you want to do more.
Lt. Clements: So, a lot of people who are looking for supplemental income and just the chance to do more. All right. Those opportunities are there as well.
Pete: When you think about our listeners right now, they’re the work force. Nobody listens to this show that is a trust fund baby, sitting on a pile of hundred dollar bills just counting them up, lighting them up. They’re the workforce right now. And I know a lot of people … they’re considering what their career journey is, because it’s a journey, not a destination. We didn’t, at 12 years old say, “Hey, I want to run a staffing company”. I’ve gone in a lot of different directions to end up right here where I’m at. It’s a journey.
Pete: So, people are always considering, what’s the next turn? What’s my next thing? And I want people to strongly consider the United States Navy and being a Navy officer. What credentials do you need to be an officer in the Navy?
Arren: Yeah. How do I get into it?
Lt. Clements: So, minimally speaking, you have to be a United States citizen to be an officer. And I’m going to step back real quick and make some differentiations real quick, because a lot of people listening might not know a lot about the military.
Lt. Clements: There’s an enlisted side and then there’s an officer side. The officer side, I guess, would be most aptly described as the management side.
Arren: Got it.
Lt. Clements: We’re the ones that take care of the paperwork and take care of the people so that the enlisted guys can do their jobs. We get all the impediments out of the way. We take care of them so that they can do the hard work.
Lt. Clements: Now, as far as being an officer, again, basic qualifications are a college degree, United States citizen and then you get into areas where you have to be competitive. So, depending on which program you choose, whether you’re going to be a surface warfare officer or a submarine warfare officer or intel officer and the list goes on and on. Nuclear engineer officer, medical, dental, nurses, depending on what path you choose, your requirements vary slightly, but the basic eligibility requirements are the same for everyone.
Arren: That’s cool.
Pete: Yeah. I’m glad you made some distinctions there and you also said … I hope everybody hears the range of opportunities within the military, okay? Within the Navy. Not everybody is going to carry a gun and, “I’m a soldier”. I don’t know what people’s perception is of the military, but you have everything. All kinds of career choices. We have doctors. We have lawyers. We have all of it. I mean, your career choices …
Pete: And again, people come to you with the degree, okay? I want to be an officer in the military. I’m a US citizen. I have a degree. Then what? Do they reach out to you? What’s the next step and how can they get some more information, learn about the programs?
Lt. Clements: Sure. Yeah. The best option is to contact your local recruiter. If you want a little more information you can go to www.navy.com and it opens up the world. And there’s a lot of options in there and places that you can search around and figure out what you want to do.
Lt. Clements: But if you contact a Navy recruiter, they’re the best source for the answers and the best source of guidance to help you navigate where you want to go.
Pete: Right. Some ancillary benefits, I’ll tell you, about being in the military. Seven year veteran, like I was, I’ve been all around the world. I mean, I have been everywhere. I’m a “shellback” they call it when you cross the equator. I’ve been to Barcelona, Spain. Palma Nova, Spain when it’s vacation time and it was so much … I did cliff diving out that way. I skied in the Alps, the Italian Alps, when we went up to Trieste, Italy. I’ve been to Haifa, Israel. I went through the ditch, as we call it, and went to Diego Garcia. I’ve been all around.
Arren: Yeah. Travel [crosstalk 00:16:47].
Pete: I’m a little bit older guy. The aircraft that I supported decommissioned and my ship, the USS Saratoga is going to be a museum, I believe, pretty soon, but I made lifelong friendships and I saw things … I mean, I’ve just seen so many wonderful things and that still happens in the Navy, right?
Lt. Clements: Absolutely. Yeah. And I just want to back up and reiterate something you said about the opportunities. I, like you, started out as an E1. Did my time. Got out. Went to college. Came back in as an officer. So, you can truly start from the bottom. You can go all the way to the top. I don’t know if you recall Admiral Boorda back in the ’90s-
Pete: I do.
Lt. Clements: He started the Seaman to Admiral program. That’s one of the commissioning programs that allows people to come in as enlisted sailors, those who don’t necessarily have the opportunity or the financial wherewithal to go to college straight out of high school and make it all the way to the top.
Lt. Clements: I mean, he went from E1 to an Admiral.
Lt. Clements: So, those opportunities are out there and they’re so wide and varied. You mentioned a lot of things that you’ve done, the Saratoga, things. I’ve never been on a ship.
Lt. Clements: I’m in the Navy. I’ve never been on a ship-
Lt. Clements: Except as a tour. I’ve been on a couple of those museums you talked about. But I’m affectionately what we refer to as a “dirt sailor”.
Pete: The brown shoe.
Lt. Clements: So, it just is an example of all the opportunities and the wide variety of those opportunities. A lot of people are not realizing that they’re out there. So, if you stop by and you see a recruiter like myself, we can explain those things to you, show you those opportunities that you might not have otherwise known about.
Pete: Right. My grandfather was in the Navy and English was his second language. [French 00:18:21]. My last name is Langlois if we’re going to say it properly and we spoke French before we spoke English when we were little. But my grandfather was in, spent two years … He was a cook in the military back in the day. My father was a weather man. I forget what the rating was called, but he spent four years in the military as well, which encouraged me to be third generation Navy. But yeah, it’s a wide variety of career choice, is what I’m saying. Just in the Langlois family we all did different things, so …
Arren: So, here’s a question. Let’s say somebody does put in an application. How long until they get contacted again and how long until they actually enlist? I don’t know if that’s the term, but are actually at that path to start everything.
Lt. Clements: So, my answer to everybody on that one is, it depends. Typically, we like to have responses to online applications within 72 hours.
Arren: Okay. That’s pretty quick.
Lt. Clements: Sometimes it takes a little longer than that, so if you don’t get a call back immediately, don’t be discouraged. But, depending on the program somebody applies for, there are different requirements. Some are more rigorous. Again, the nuclear program-
Lt. Clements: Is much more rigorous. Surface warfare or pilot, some of those things, it can be as little as three to four months. It can be as much as a year. Sometimes longer. Sometimes people don’t get accepted the first time around and they reapply, so it takes a little bit longer. Or sometimes there are medical issues that have to be overcome and it takes a little while for those to be clarified and taken care of.
Arren: Got it. And another question, I know my husband was interested in becoming part of the Marines, but he also wears glasses. Is that something that is typical? Because I don’t have the best eyesight. How am I supposed to see a ship from afar?
Lt. Clements: Sure. So, there are a few areas where vision is critical. Pilot being the number one, right?
Arren: Oh, yeah.
Lt. Clements: Obviously, if you don’t have correctable to 20-20 or 20-20 vision, it’s going to be very difficult. But most other programs only … The only other vision issue you would have to deal with would be possibly color blindness-
Arren: Oh, yes.
Lt. Clements: And that restricts you from certain programs, but most people with vision issues don’t have any problem getting into the Navy.
Pete: Here’s one question I want to ask, because again, career is a journey, it’s not a destination. We end up here … When you were younger maybe you didn’t say, “I want to be an engineer and I want to be an officer or a recruiter in the Navy”. What would you tell, if you could go back in time, your 20-year-old self that’s thinking about, what I’m going to do or even maybe 18, 17, even high school age, your younger self.
Pete: Here’s future Lieutenant Clements, reaching back to young Jason Clements. What would you tell him?
Lt. Clements: I thought long and hard about this. I actually asked a friend of mine what he thought when you proposed that question to me the other day when we spoke. Honestly, the first thing I’d say is, nobody’s a self-made man. There’s always somebody there who’s helping you out and helping you along the way. My recommendation would be to anyone, pay attention to what you’re doing. Listen to those people. Do the best you can and just understand that every decision that you make today will affect every decision that you make in the future.
Pete: That is fantastic.
Arren: So well said. Very well said.
Pete: And then, when a door closes, it’s not the end of the world, too, because it’s just part of the journey.
Pete: All right. Now, Arren, I can see you’re sitting on a question right now. Yeah, me. Raising her hand, flagging me down. What do you got?
Arren: Okay. So, burning question that everybody probably wants to know who’s interested so far is, on the officer side, do I have to run?
Pete: Run? Like-?
Arren: Like cardio. I need to know if I need to run a mile, because I’m not there yet.
Pete: I think I know the answer to this one, Lieutenant, but go ahead.
Lt. Clements: Well, actually, you don’t have to run a mile. You have to run a mile and a half.
Arren: Oh, God. Help me.
Lt. Clements: So, we do that twice a year as part of our-
Arren: Oh, twice a year?
Lt. Clements: PFA, which is our physical fitness assessments. There are minimum standards that you have to meet. But in addition to the running, you have to do pushups and sit-ups as well.
Arren: Well, I guess I could do that now since my baby is almost 20 pounds. So …
Pete: Yeah. Yeah. I bet you could move around a little.
Pete: Lieutenant Clements, I’m going to want to have you back as a recurring guest, because I want to get into more detail into some of the programs that the Navy offers folks, but tell us a little bit more and please provide contact information and information about how people can get in touch with you or perhaps your recruiting command.
Lt. Clements: Sure. So, as I mentioned before, if you go to www.mynavy.com there’s an avenue there for you to fill out paperwork. And you can send in your information and that’ll automatically get sent to big Navy and they’ll route through where you need to be assigned. And they’ll push you down and we get a list of all the online applications. And then we divvy those up to the appropriate person who would handle whatever program you tell us you’re interested in.
Lt. Clements: And from there, we talk to you, try and bring you into the office, get to know you a little bit more, a little more about what you’re looking for and try and find an opportunity that’s applicable for your desires. You can also reach me directly. My email address is email@example.com. You can also call me. My phone number is 904-524-4785.
Pete: All right, hard workers. Lieutenant Clements, thank you so much for coming on and spending your Sunday morning with us.
Lt. Clements: Well, thank you for having me. It has been a pleasure to be here.
Pete: Glad to have you. Something to think about everybody.
Pete: Okay. That music tells us it’s the bottom of the hour. We need to take a break. You’re listening to 104.5.
Pete: Welcome back all you hard workers. Man, what a great first segment we had with Lieutenant Jason Clements of the United States Navy giving us all something to think about. Maybe when you got up this morning you didn’t think, “Should I join the US Navy?” Right? There’s so many different options, we couldn’t possibly cram it all into one show. So, we’re going to have him back multiple times and talk about the different programs the Navy has to offer people and I’m really excited about it.
For any interested individuals www.navy.com/careers/ has a great deal of information
I can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more specific questions anyone may have.
In the Episode:
Lieutenant Jason A. Clements, PE, PSM, Civil Engineer Corps., United States Navy
LT Clements is a native of Milton, Florida and the son of a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. After graduating from Pace High School he enlisted in the US Navy and graduated Boot Camp from RTC Orlando in April 1992. Upon completion of EA “A” School, LT Clements reported to CBU 412 at Naval Station Charleston, South Carolina where he was promoted to Petty Officer 3rd Class. In June 1995 he was transferred to NMCB 74, Gulfport MS. During his tour with NMCB 74 he was promoted to Petty Officer 2nd Class and served in various positions within the Engineering Shop, deploying twice to Okinawa, Japan, once to Key West, FL and once to Port Au Prince, Haiti in support of Operation Fair Winds. LT Clements was Honorably Discharged in June 1998
LT Clements is a 2007 graduate of the Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. He was commissioned into the Civil Engineer Corps in December 2010 via the Direct Commission Officer program and immediately reported to NMCB 14.
While serving with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 in Jacksonville, FL, he began as the Engineering Officer and has served in several positions including, Embark Officer, Air Det, Bravo, Echo and Charlie Echo Company Commander. Mr. Clements has deployed twice with NMCB 14 as AOIC/ OPS Officer Det Afghanistan (2012-2013) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and as OIC Det Kuwait (2016-2017) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He reported to NCG TWO in April 2018 as the Acting OIC for NCG2 Reserve Augment.
LT Clements is a Registered Professional Engineer, Registered Professional Surveyor and Mapper in the State of Florida and a Seabee Combat Warfare qualified officer. His personal awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal (x2), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Operation Inherent Resolve Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Navy Sea Service Ribbon (x3), Navy Reserve Sea Service Ribbon, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (M, x2) NATO Medal (ISAF), Expert Rifle Medal and Expert Pistol Medal.
In his civilian occupation, LT Clements is currently employed with Naval Facilities Engineering Command, South East as the Region’s Senior Land Surveyor and Cadastral Department Supervisor. He is married to the former Jennie Dean of Richmond, Virginia and resides in St. Johns, Florida with their 5 children.