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The easiest way to describe the work of personnel specialists is to say that they provide administrative customer service to the enlisted sailors. That covers so many areas that even the Personnelman Training Manual acknowledges that the scope of the job is extremely broad. The PS is one of the few jobs in the Navy that touches all the personnel in the command and almost all aspects of their Navy career. It requires great attention to detail, an ability to work with others and a high degree of discretion.
Enlisted Service Record
The sum total of a sailor’s time in service is contained in an electronic service record which has replaced former paper records. The PS office is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the service records. While a variety of people are authorized to make entries, it is the task of a designated PS to ensure the security of the records and the veracity of the information.
Sailors come and go at a command on a regular basis, and a PS keeps track of each transfer. The PS generates paperwork for incoming sailors to integrate into the command and ensures that transferring sailors have the right paperwork for a smooth transfer. This includes documents relevant to transportation, household goods shipments and dependents. Manpower also continually monitors who is advancing in rate, getting married, graduating training and numerous other activities. The PS submits all this in timely fashion to higher authorities.
Service to Shipmates
The PS office provides ID cards, career counseling and help solving special problems or hardships. They answer questions concerning benefits, past events, awards and training. The PS works with senior Navy personnel in other offices to provide information about sailors within the command so that proper decisions can be made concerning the smooth functioning of the ship.
The education services office is normally run by a PS. The task requires maintaining and updating a database of who is qualified to take which advancement test, ensuring that sailors and their division officers are aware of their qualification standings, ordering tests, proctoring tests and maintaining test security. The Office also maintains a library of correspondence books for advancement and training and scores the required tests.
Correspondence and Filing
Personnel specialists work daily composing and writing official letters for the commanding officer’s signature. These often deal with special requests by a sailor that requires permission from a higher command authority. Filing and maintaining the outgoing/incoming letters is very important so that the necessary paperwork can quickly be found when needed again.
Payroll and Accounting
The PS is also responsible for seeing that sailors are paid in a timely, correct fashion. They note critical information in the records concerning special pay, reimbursements, entitlements and other fiscal information. They also counsel sailors concerning options about disbursement of pay and how various allotments can be made.
A PS may go to an advanced school to learn to be a classifier. This position works with new recruits to slot them into the right school, depending upon the recruit's desires, test scores and class availability and the needs of the Navy.
Jack Burton started writing professionally in 1980 with articles in "Word from Jerusalem," "ICEJ Daily News" and Tagalong Garden News. He has managed radio stations, TV studios and newspapers, and was the chief fundraiser for Taltree Arboretum. Burton holds a B.S. in broadcasting from John Brown University. He is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy/Navy Reserves and the Navy Seabees.