Mother and Son Join the Navy

A Family Commitment: a story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary S. Eshleman

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(August 21, 2018) Melissa Ensey and her son, Curtis Abbott, swear into the Navy together at the Kansas City, Mo., Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary S. Eshleman/Released)

by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary S. Eshleman

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) – Melissa Ensey, of Lebanon, Missouri, had no idea how significant the trip would become when she got in the car with her son, Curtis Abbott, to go explore his career options at several military recruiting stations.

After talking to the Army and Air force recruiters, they sat down at the desk of Navy Career Counselor 1st Class Shawn Dery. Something began to stir deep inside of her as she listened to what was possible for her son. Jokingly she said to him, “Too bad I can’t join too,” and Dery quickly responded, “you can.”

The Navy changed its age requirements in January 2018 to help meet rising recruiting goals, allowing eligible people to join up to age 39. Being 37, Ensey hadn’t thought about enlisting as a possibility, but when she found this out, her dreams of traveling the world, supporting her daughter through college, and continuing her own education seemed to be within her grasp.

For Abbott, joining the military had always been on his mind. The more he thought about the Navy and the lifestyle being a Sailor can offer, the more it just felt right. Living in a small town all his life made him restless, and for the 18-year-old, the prospect of traveling the world while learning valuable skills seemed like the perfect way forward.

When his mom began to express interest in joining too, he wasn’t sure what to think about it. However, after the initial surprise, it all actually made a lot of sense to him.

“At first I was just a little perplexed,” said Abbott, “but it seems like it’ll be a really good thing for her. She can finish getting all the education she’s always wanted. Plus, my sister will be able to go to college.”

Joining together creates different emotions for them than typical family members would have as their loved one leaves to join the Navy. Ensey is especially nervous about basic training, but she’s happy that it can be a shared experience.


“It’s almost more comforting knowing that he’s going to be there too,” she said, “and I am excited for it.”

For Dery, the whole situation was unlike anything he had done before in his nine years as a recruiter. Although after they hear the benefits of enlisting, he says it’s typical for a parent to say they wish they had joined when they were younger; he has never seen them act on it.

“I just showed them the proof of it,” Dery said, speaking about what he did to make them both want to join, “I just show them what’s out there for them and let them make their own decisions.”

Working in Springfield, Missouri, Dery introduces a lot people from very small towns and rural areas to the possibilities the Navy can open up in their lives. He feels like he’s truly able to make a difference through recruiting.

“It does make me feel good when I see people come from smaller towns and join the Navy and go off to see the world and do things they might not have ever been able to do,” said Dery.

Having worked with them extensively, Dery feels great about them completing the process and swearing in together. He says he’s confident they’ll be successful out in the Fleet.

On August 21, in the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Kansas City, Missouri, Ensey stood next to her son as they both raised their right hands and took the oath of enlistment into the U.S. Navy. “It was an emotional moment,” said Ensey. “Making this commitment alongside my son is something I will never forget. I’m proud of him and I hope he is proud of me.”

Ensey signed a contract to become a Master-at-Arms and part of the Navy’s security force, While Abbott will be entering as a Logistics Specialist to work in the Navy’s supply field. Both said they are equally excited to be a part of the Navy, securing a career, college opportunities and the pride that comes with serving a grateful nation.

The Navy’s recruiting force totals over 6,100 personnel in more than 1,000 recruiting stations around the globe. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.

NRC consists of a command headquarters, two Navy Recruiting Regions, 20 Navy Recruiting Districts and six Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,000 recruiting stations across the country.


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