SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 – Growing up, Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class Wesley Lewison IX said he used his intelligence and wits for all the wrong things until a recruiter intervened with a simple question: “What are you doing with your life?” The speech that started with these words resonated with the young man from Chillicothe, Ohio, and the next thing he knew, he was in the Navy and loving it.
Since the start, he has been a workaholic and he shows no signs of slowing down. He dived into his career in the Navy, serving on the ballistic missile submarines USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) and USS Nevada (SSBN 733), at the Naval Submarine Support Center, and at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center. In his first four years of service, he advanced to the rank of petty officer first class.
However, although Lewison loved the “silent service,” the spark lit by his recruiter almost 10 years ago fueled his dream to recruit new talents for the Navy he loves, and to which he owes so much. Things seemed to fall into place, and Lewison found himself as leading petty officer of the Navy Recruiting Station (NRS) Lancaster, in Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia.
“Recruiting is a direct investment into the future,” said Lewison. “We are hand-picking all of these people who are going to be our replacements one day. If we go back to the fleet, we will be leading them, and they will be the ones safeguarding and defending the country. When I’m writing contracts or scouting for a new talent, I get to pick people who will keep the entire world safe, and it is a big deal to me.”
He said recruiting is by no means an easy job. Sometimes while concentrating on production and numbers, it can be easy for him to lose focus on the importance of the people and the future of the Navy.
“As recruiters we cannot lose sight of that,” reiterated Lewison. “We get to make a one-on-one impact on the future of our organization, and to me, it is an honor.”
However, acquiring new talent for the Navy is not enough for this hard-charger. Lewison also strives to improve the process for recruiters by simplifying and modernizing the job.
A systems engineer by trade, Lewison, in collaboration with Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Brendon Ritchie, assigned to NRS Norristown, developed a virtual phone book that allows recruiters to access any division, station or recruiter within the command on the go. The app started as an afternoon idea, but it became a system that is now integral to daily operations.
“The biggest thing for us is how we modernize our current systems,” said Lewison. “One thing we did was the phone book which is a centralized hub for the command. It has live updates, phone numbers, form submissions and is mobile accessible. It takes one-stop-shop philosophy, and puts it into practice so recruiters, with their mobile nature, can still do all the things they need to complete without slowing down. In a way, it sends us into paperless Navy.”
Lewison’s skills and dedication to the job also led to his recent nomination for director of an e-talent program that encompasses new, modern ways of acquiring leads for talents, and connects potential Sailors with recruiters through digital means.
“We are modernizing the use of digital capture metrics to drive the data,” said Lewison. “All of the data shows us that people want to join the Navy, so how do we connect to them directly instead of spending man-hours sorting through the paperwork? We are developing products that would help us standardize the process and push for success, making sure everyone can communicate. This is another reason why we are also doing social media standardization: making sure that everyone has the same social media platforms where we can cross post and advertise the Navy to new generations.”
Despite the workload and demands of the service, Lewison still finds the time to serve the local community, and he instills in his Sailors the importance of giving back to this nation’s citizens. Every Sailor under him volunteers and participates in community outreach projects at least once a month, which is the standard.
“Community outreach is very important, especially because our salaries are paid by the taxpayers, so we go to our local communities to make their money work for them. Whether it is cleaning up the parks, or rebuilding playgrounds, volunteering for summer camps for underprivileged children, or providing meals to those less fortunate,” said Lewison. “We are here to support them as they support us.”
Lewison said he feels his fleet experience and recruiting career are only the first chapters in his story, but he always attributes his success to his naval service.
“Humans are tribal creatures,” said Lewison. “We build ourselves into small, tight-knit communities where we are comfortable, in our hometowns, schools, or wherever it may be, and we build small tribes among ourselves. For me, serving in the Navy allows me to expand that tribal mentality to the entire country, and it makes everybody your tribe, your people. (The Navy) is a place that creates an absolute sense of inclusiveness. It 100 percent demonstrates how much of a positive impact diversity and inclusiveness actually make, and that’s why it is a perfect service for me.”
NRD Philadelphia encompasses regions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, providing recruiting services from more than 30 recruiting stations with the overall goal of attracting the highest quality candidates to ensure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 17 Navy Recruiting Districts and nine Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,330 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Diana Quinlan, NRD Philadelphia Public Affairs Officer