By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyra Campbell
Newly-promoted Navy Reserve Lt. Dominique Pope learned much about service from her father, a Retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant who spent most of his career serving as a Reserve Airman.
His experience enabled him to prepare her for a rewarding career.
According to Pope, a Silver Springs, Maryland native, the only higher education military institution she was familiar with was the Naval Academy, until her father presented her with another option.
“My dad introduced me to the Merchant Marine Academy,” said Pope. “After learning more about it, I liked the idea of having the option to join any branch as a Reserve service member or to go on active duty.”
Pope attended the Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, where she majored in Maritime Logistics and Security and, in 2018, received an automatic commission through the Strategic Sealift Officer (SSO) Program.
In her Navy Reserve role, Pope belongs to the Strategic Sealift Readiness Group (SSRG), a team of SSOs made up of actively sailing officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine who are uniquely qualified to operate merchant ships as naval auxiliaries in cases of national emergency. Pope and her fellow SSOs also provide officer crewing for ships in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force (RRF) and Military Sealift Command's (MSC) Sealift Fleet.
Currently on Active Duty Operational Support (ADOS) orders to Commander Naval Reserve Forces Command (CNRFC), Pope serves as an Action Officer in the N15 Force Activation and Deactivation department. It is a role she relishes, as many SSOs occupy a place in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) where opportunities to gain significant operational experience and day-to-day continuity of operations are difficult to come by.
“As an SSO, I do not have a lot of opportunity to put significant time towards my Navy career,” said Pope. “So, when the opportunity presented itself to come to CNRFC on long-term orders, I took them, with the intent to build myself as an officer and get some real experience working in uniform.”
Pope’s current duty has afforded her that opportunity.
“I believe my newly gained knowledge of the Navy Reserve has pushed me to grow both personally and professionally,” said Pope. “I have seen myself grow as an officer and as a leader, and it has shown in my personal life, as well. I have more confidence in myself, and I feel better equipped to take on difficult situations that may be thrown my way.”
Pope’s main duty in N15 is assisting Sailors across the Force transition from Active Duty to Reserve and back again.
Pope said she values her ability to contribute to the efforts outlined in the 2022 Navy Reserve Fighting Instruction, which highlights four lines of effort: Design, Train, Mobilize and Develop, and which calls on Reserve Sailors to focus their efforts on consistent warfighting readiness.
Knowing that she is helping real people with potentially life-changing issues, and creating a smoother and more efficient process for future Reserve Sailors, is Pope’s favorite part of her job. “The progress the N15 team has made has required force-wide training and has already resulted in the mobilization of hundreds of Sailors,” stated Pope. This has contributed to achieving strategic depth and staying ready on day one.