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    Sailors Aboard USS George Washington Visit with Pups on a Mission for Mental Health

    Sailors Aboard USS George Washington Visit with Pups on a Mission for Mental Health

    , Va. — Machinist's mate Isiah Nathan, 19, was one of several sailors on the George who stepped away from their duties Thursday to pet the visitors from Mutts with a Mission.

    Tucked in a corner of a cavernous area, the dogs and their trainers greeted crewmembers who gave the puppies a quick cuddle or a pat before heading to lunch, receiving equipment or completing other work. Mutts with a Mission is Hampton Roads' only accredited service dog provider, and the visit was one of the steps the Navy has taken recently to improve morale on the ship.

    Nathan's favorite was Poseidon, a 4-month-old that reminded him of his dog back home in Louisiana. He joined the ship in March, at the tail end of its six years at Newport News Shipbuilding. He was concerned about working on such a large ship, and he knew it had been through difficult times. There have been nine suicides among its crew dating to 2017, including three in one week in April 2022. But the ship and its crew quickly earned his admiration.

    Nathan's pride was evident as he turned to look up at the massive mural painted above the mingling dogs and sailors.

    “Every day, I find something new to love,” he said.

    Camaraderie has increased with efforts to improve morale, from popular karaoke nights to an upcoming summer picnic for which leadership has reserved a waterpark. But nothing has had a bigger impact, he and others said, than finally…

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