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The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

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Alumni highlight benefits of military service

Griffin Hinkley administers a preflight inspection of his MH-60R helicopter while aboard the USS Gravely in March 2022. The USS Gravely was conducting deployed flight operations in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo used with permission from USS Gravely flight crew.

Due to the military playing an integral role in the Ocean Lakes community, many students opt for the military route post-high school because of the benefits that service provides.

The Virginia Beach Metropolitan Area hosts the highest number of veterans and active duty service members in the U.S. This is largely due to Hampton Roads containing military installations across all branches, with Naval Station Norfolk being the largest naval complex in the world, according to the Hampton Roads Planning Direct Commission and Virginia Beach Economic Development.

The sheer number of military-connected alumni that come from Ocean Lakes means that there are a variety of stories to tell, and it is their successes that help make the community truly special.

Take Griffin Hinkley, a 2014 Ocean Lakes graduate who decided to serve because of his service-oriented upbringing.

“[I] learned to never take our great freedoms for granted,” said Hinkley. “I felt motivated and compelled to serve in the military as a way to continue to support, defend and ensure freedoms are available for my children and the next generations.”

After high school, he chose to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, where he graduated in 2018. He is now an MH-60R helicopter pilot in Jacksonville, Fla.

Additionally, Hinkley highlights the unique experiences that military service offers.

“I don’t know too many other jobs where [you can go] to Norway, Finland, Poland and France in [the] span of six weeks,” said Hinkley. “The military combines people from all over the world, allowing for an opportunity to broaden your horizons socially. Being surrounded by so many different characters is truly unique.”

Military service also teaches valuable leadership lessons.

“As an officer, the day you graduate college, you become a leader,” said Naval Officer Codi Chalkley. “You could be leading young 18-year-old sailors two months later as a 22-year-old. They will be looking up to you, depending on you. This will humble you, and you will immediately start to grow as a leader and a person.”

In order for students like Hinkley and Chalkley to turn dreams into reality, though, they must be equipped with the right tools and given adequate support by school staff.

“[Ocean Lakes’] high standards in academics and athletics laid a solid foundation,” said Josh Stanley, an Ocean Lakes alumnus who currently serves in the Air Force. “Ocean Lakes has an incredible cadre of teachers, coaches and administrators who all contributed to the great education I received and the opportunities I was afforded after graduating.”

Stanley’s military journey led him to enroll in the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he faced several new challenges that shaped his character.

“Attending the Air Force Academy immediately out of high school taught me discipline and tested my work ethic. Working with people from around the country and world opened my eyes to valuing diverse people,” said Stanley.

Chalkley has also faced hardships throughout her military career.

“I met my wonderful husband at the initial stages of pilot training. Being a dual-military couple, there are certainly sacrifices. There was a stretch of time where we didn’t see each other for over a year because of deployments, we didn’t have the opportunity to go on our honeymoon until over five years after we got married, [and] he missed eight out of the nine months I was pregnant with our daughter,” said Chalkley.

Despite these difficulties, Chalkley says she feels lucky as many other military families have to deal with similar hardships.

“We wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Chalkley. “This is the best country in the world, and it comes with sacrifices. Where I can help, I would like to.”

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About the Contributor
Austin Stegerwald
Austin Stegerwald, Staff Writer
Austin Stegerwald is a sophomore in his first year as a journalist for The Current. Outside the newspaper, he also enjoys playing soccer, participating in school clubs and listening to music.

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    Sue GreaneyDec 28, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    Very impressive article. Cudos to the staff writer, Austin.