NORFOLK, Va. – Petty Officer 1st Class Jamica Ballard, hailing from Fort Washington, Maryland, is a dedicated member of the United States Navy, stationed aboard a warship docked in Norfolk, Virginia. Ballard’s journey from Friendly High School in 2008 to the USS Kearsarge today is a testament to her unwavering commitment to serve her country.
Ballard’s experiences in Fort Washington have played a significant role in shaping her outlook on her Navy career. She shared a valuable lesson she learned from her mother, saying, “The main lesson I carry with me is from my mom. She always told me to never take things personally when I’m doing a job. That lesson helps me adapt to various environments and work with people with different personalities because I may not always get along with everyone, but I can’t take it to heart.”
Joining the Navy 14 years ago, Ballard’s journey began during the throes of the economic recession. She reflected on her decision, stating, “I was working at Blockbuster when the recession started. The economy was going through a hard time, and Blockbuster got phased out, so I lost my job. My older brother was interested in joining the Navy, and I went with him when he was being recruited. I ended up going, but he didn’t.”
Today, Ballard serves as a mass communication specialist aboard the USS Kearsarge, a formidable vessel with a crew of approximately 1,200 members capable of accommodating up to 1,800 Marines. USS Kearsarge is part of the Wasp class of multipurpose amphibious assault ships, carrying out critical missions that involve the transfer of Marines, equipment, supplies, and air support capabilities.
The role of the Navy and sailors like Ballard in America’s defense strategy cannot be understated. As the nation focuses on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in line with the National Defense Strategy, Ballard emphasizes the Navy’s significance. “I think the Navy is important to national defense, especially for what we represent perception-wise,” Ballard asserts. “We want to maintain the perception of being a power force. We’re able to be ready at all times for the call to duty.”
Highlighting the vital role the Navy plays in global commerce and internet security, Navy officials stress the interconnectedness of national prosperity with a strong and skilled naval force.
Ballard herself has achieved notable milestones in her Navy career, including being named Sailor of the Year for 2022 and receiving a meritorious promotion to petty officer first class. She takes pride in these accomplishments and recognizes the positive impact they have on her fellow sailors. “Being Sailor of the Year comes with the responsibility of being the face of the command and also a really nice parking spot,” Ballard remarks. “A lot of the sailors, especially junior ones, saw me working hard, and the fact that they see me being recognized allows them to not lose hope. It shows them that people are watching, that they can be recognized, and that everything they’re doing is not for nothing.”
For Ballard and many others in uniform, serving in the Navy represents a sense of consistency and financial stability, even amid changing times. She expresses her gratitude to her family for their unwavering support, saying, “I would like to thank my mom, Shari Davis, for her support. I also want to thank my older brother, Vaurice Davis. Even though he didn’t end up joining the Navy with me, he’s still been a huge support.”
In closing, Ballard encourages young individuals to consider the Navy as a pathway to countless opportunities and diverse career fields. “If I had one thing to tell young people, it would be to give the Navy a chance, whether it’s one contract or more,” she advises. “There are so many opportunities and career fields you can take up in the military.”
Jamica Ballard’s journey from Fort Washington to the USS Kearsarge exemplifies the unwavering dedication of Navy personnel and their crucial role in safeguarding the nation’s security and prosperity. As the Navy continues to evolve and adapt, individuals like Ballard stand ready to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.