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Capt. Steven Kelley, commodore of the 1st Naval Construction Regiment, and Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22 tour a home under construction at the Southwest Indian Foundation in Gallup, N.M., Aug. 26, 2016. Seabees are building homes for Navajo families under the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program.

Capt. Steven Kelley, commodore of the 1st Naval Construction Regiment, and Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22 tour a home under construction at the Southwest Indian Foundation in Gallup, N.M., Aug. 26, 2016. Seabees are building homes for Navajo families under the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program. (Adam Hen/U.S. Navy)

A group of Navy Seabees gained valuable construction experience while helping Navajo families from New Mexico in need of housing.

Working with the nonprofit Southwest Indian Foundation, 125 active-duty and reserve Seabees took part in an ongoing project with the Department of Defense Innovative Readiness Training program to build one-, two- and three-bedroom homes near Gallup, N.M., a Navy statement said.

“Many personnel will come to the project with very little hands-on construction experience and they are able to learn from skilled journeymen,” said Capt. Steven Kelley, commodore of the 1st Naval Construction Regiment.

The servicemembers — from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 22, NMCB 5 and Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 303 — were involved in all phases of construction, including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, drywall and painting.

“This IRT is the real deal,” said Brian Mixan, NMCB 22’s project manager. “This is exactly the way that we build residential construction in the real world, thus the skills [the Seabees] obtained translate into employable skills outside of the Navy. They also translate into experience that they can use on [Naval Construction Force] projects in the future.”

The project was important to servicemembers in other ways as well.

“Every Seabee I talked to was proud of the impact they are making helping improve the living conditions of families in need,” Kelley said.

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