By By MC3 Rawad Madanat
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla (NNS) -- More than 30 Sailors from amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) helped paint the Henderson Behavioral Health Center's Crisis Stabilization Unit in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in a community relations (COMREL) project for Fleet Week Port Everglades May 6.
The unit provides short-term, intensive, inpatient treatment and stabilization to people facing a psychological crisis on a walk-in basis. Sailors pitched in by priming and painting the exterior walls that stretch around the facility.
The COMREL was one of several projects aimed at providing opportunities for the visiting military members to directly impact the community during Fleet Week Port Everglades, a weeklong celebration and collaboration with the local citizens.
"We are super excited to have you helping us rehab one of our buildings with some fresh paint," said Suzanne Higgins, director of development at Henderson Behavioral Health. "We are so grateful that you are taking the time while you are in port helping us with this very important project."
According to Higgins, the Henderson Behavioral Health Center provides care to more than 30,000 adults and children a year, a fact that was not lost on many of the participating Sailors.
"I feel great giving back to the community and getting a chance to meet the locals," said Damage Controlman Fireman Recruit Cullen O'Brien. "It's great to get out and find out exactly what this center does, which is help mentally ill people."
In addition to allowing Sailors to interact and impact the community directly, the project also served as an efficient way to utilize manpower and complete projects using the skills and sheer number of military members.
"It takes a whole team of folks to help us with a project like this," said Higgins. "We are just so grateful to those of you that committed time to help the local community where you are. It's just wonderful. We couldn't thank you enough."
Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from five ships are participating in the 25th annual Fleet Week Port Everglades.
Along with Wasp and Williams, other visiting ships and units include: Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67), U.S. Coast Guard Sentinel-class cutter USCGC Richard Etheridge (WPC 1102), USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) and Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
The series of events and ship tours provide the citizens of Florida an opportunity to meet Sailors and Marines, as we as witness first-hand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services, to gain a better understanding of how the sea services support the maritime strategy and national defense of the United States.