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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Every Friday night, single sailors here can enjoy dinner, conversation and a movie at the Community and Education Center, where organizers encourage payment by personal check.

Not a monetary check, but a Reality Check.

In fact, as far as money is concerned, the new single-sailor program Reality Check always is free, thanks to sponsorship by the Religious Ministries Department.

Lt. j.g. Sunny Mitchell, a chaplain and program coordinator, said it’s about having a good time and developing relationships but equally about open-mindedness and a willingness to explore a wide range of issues — getting real about life.

Attendance has increased each week since the program began about two months ago. Twenty-four single sailors attended the last meeting, she added.

“I think it’s a great program and something that is really needed here. It’s an especially good alternative to the Sailor Town bars and all that stuff,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Goehmann, a single sailor assigned to Assault Craft Unit One, Western Pacific Detachment.

“I’ll tell you this much … for Sasebo to have a single-sailor program sponsored by the Chaplain’s Office and held on Friday nights, with attendance increasing to the point they had 24 people last time … well, that’s a mob,” joked Goehmann, who attends Reality Check on Friday nights when off duty.

Mitchell emphasized that the program “is a single-sailor program, not designed as a religious program. They can be from any religious background or no background; it’s about single sailors.”

“Sasebo is a unique place, a small base and once you get off the base there’s not much westernization single sailors may identify with during leisure time,” Mitchell added. “We seek to provide single sailors with something to do that is enjoyable and encourages some substance of thought and discussion of issues.”

Each meeting features free food from one of the base’s eateries and plenty of conversation.

During some meetings, the group watches a movie that explores social or interpersonal relationships and behavior on various levels. The next week, they discuss the issues highlighted in the film.

“Many of our young single sailors here are quite articulate in expressing their thoughts about the topics we discuss,” Mitchell said. However, the day-to-day routine of performing their duties as servicemembers, she said, often leaves no avenue for that sort of expression.

“This provides a sounding board for some of those sailors,” she added. Also, “those who haven’t given much thought to broader issues ... have an opportunity to broaden their thinking, perhaps developing new interests.”

Reality Check meets at 7 p.m. Fridays in the Community and Education Center’s second-floor Music Room.

Call Mitchell at 252-3380 for more information.


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