By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Lyon

Bremerton, Wash. — Service members, veterans and local businesses gathered Mar. 29, in the Kitsap Sun Pavilion to celebrate Military Appreciation Day.

The free event, hosted by the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, included an informational fair, entertainment and speakers from the local civilian and military community.

The commanding officer of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), Capt. Michael Wettlaufer, said the event helped strengthen the relationship between the local and military communities.

“We [military service members and families] found out what’s available in the local community and got to know our neighbors,” said Wettlaufer. “In the end it made the relationship between Stennis, the Navy and Kitsap County much closer.”

More than 100 booths and displays were set up in the pavilion by local businesses, colleges and military organizations to help educate military members and their families on various opportunities for service members throughout Kitsap County.

“This event shows [service members] what’s available in the area,” said Hospital Corpsman Seaman Dustin Baldwin, a volunteer at the Naval Hospital Bremerton booth. “We [Naval Hospital Bremerton] can use this event to network and reach out to the military community so they know what services the hospital has available to them.”

“Most of the people who live here are former military,” said Angela Sell, the master of ceremonies, “so we respect and welcome our active duty members and veterans because we have been in their shoes.”

Stennis is currently undergoing a Docking Planned Incremental Availability maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

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