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Strategic Systems Programs Celebrates Workforce at Command Picnic

10 August 2023

From Shelby Thompson

WASHINGTON – The Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) family came together at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to celebrate the SSP Command Picnic held for the first time since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020.
WASHINGTON – The Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) family came together at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to celebrate the SSP Command Picnic held for the first time since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020.

In the weeks leading up to the picnic, organizers enthusiastically promoted the event within the command, resulting in over 330 tickets being sold to military, civilian and contractor personnel who were also able to purchase tickets for family members to participate.

“It was a great opportunity for our team to make connections with one another and to meet each other’s families, some for the first time,” said David Macht, an SSP supervisor.

The SSP Command Picnic was organized by SSP’s Activity and Recreations Committee (SPARC), an all-volunteer team made up of military and civilians who fundraise and plan MWR events throughout the year. SPARC conducted several fundraisers to raise money for the picnic, and their hard-work came to life through the enjoyment of their colleagues and families, including many new employees who were participating in their first SPARC- coordinated command-event. SPARC’s efforts showcased one of the many positives that come with being a part of the SSP family.

“Holding Morale events are important parts of this organization to build a cohesive unit inside and outside the work place,” said LTJG Michael Amatangelo, one of the picnic organizers. “It’s how we embrace the family moto that Vice Admiral Wolfe speaks about.”

As the picnic kicked off, Vice Adm. Wolfe took a moment to talk to the workforce and their families and thank them for their service.

“What you do every day is keeping us from major power conflict,” said Vice Adm. Wolfe. “For the families here, I want you to appreciate that as well. Whether it’s your spouse, your child, your parent, your aunt or uncle – what they are doing is monumental.”

In addition to thanking the workforce for their hard work, this year’s picnic served as a reunion of colleagues and their families. In the years since the last command picnic, families have expanded and babies have grown into rambunctious children. For many, this was an opportunity to finally meet their colleague’s families and learn more about them away from the office.

This year’s command picnic boasted activities for the whole family, including outdoor games, a waterslide, bounce house, and - arguably pièce de résistance of the day – a dunk tank. The kids lost no time getting in on the action offered.

“My kids had a great time, and managed to get in a couple good dunks at the dunk tank!” according to Macht.

“My son loved the bounce house so much that he refused to do anything else at the picnic,” said Dr. Vanessa Gentzen, an SSP employee. “He made lots of friends.

“This may be the best command picnic we have ever had!” said Dr. Steven Van Dyk, Chief Engineer at SSP, as he joined a crowd cheering on dunk-tank participants.
One SPARC volunteer provided a special recognition of the command’s chiefs.

“This year the chiefs really stepped up, and volunteered to cook the food for the picnic,” said Jose Balderrama. “All their hard work made this event a success.”

The effort was clearly appreciated, with people eagerly lining up to indulge in hot dogs, hamburgers, and a tasty lineup of sides and desserts.

As the afternoon drew to a close people were already looking forward to next year’s command picnic and making plans to perfect their dunk tank aim.

“Hopefully, being a part of this event showed our command all the great thing that SPARC does,” said NCC Troy Stocking, a SPARC volunteer. “We’re always looking for more volunteers!”

SPARC is affiliated with the wider umbrella of Navy Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Programs. Navy MWR provides funding and resources for events that support military and civilian morale. Military Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Programs date back to the 1800s, and continue to be an important building block of military morale. The mission of Navy MWR is to serve the needs, interests, and responsibilities of all people in the military community-sailors and marines, their families, civilian employees, military retirees, and other eligible participants-for as long as they are associated with the Navy, no matter where they are located

SSP is the Navy command that provides cradle-to-grave lifecycle support for the sea-based leg of the nation’s nuclear triad. This includes training, systems, equipment, facilities and personnel responsible for ensuring the safety, security, and effectiveness of the nation’s Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) Trident II (D5LE) strategic weapon system. SLBMs make up the majority – approximately 70 percent – of the U.S.’s deployed strategic nuclear deterrent Triad. The SLBM is the most survivable, provides persistent presence, and allows flexible concept of operations.

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