Naval War College professor returns home to support hurricane relief efforts

NEWPORT, R.I. – U.S. Naval War College (NWC) professor Walter Berbrick went back to his hometown in South Florida last week to help communities affected by Hurricane Irma. 

He deployed as a member of the Disaster Response Team with the American Red Cross where he conducted community need assessments and distributed emergency relief supplies to disaster victims in Greater Miami and the Keys.

South Florida holds a special place in his heart, said Berbrick, who grew up in Miami and lived through Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

"I know how it feels to lose everything and to have to rebuild your life from scratch," he said. "It's heartbreaking to see my hometown struggle, but we always find a way to come together and bounce back stronger. It's in our blood."

He said he didn’t return to get any recognition, but feels personally obligated to give back to the very communities that gave him so much.

"Whether you choose to lend a hand or a sympathetic ear, each of us has a role to play and something to contribute," said Berbrick. "In the end, service connects us like nothing else, not only as communities but as a nation; and helps us grow closer to the people we serve."

According to Berbrick, who leads climate security studies at the college, rising seas and violent storms will continue to threaten our economy, our national security, and our future; especially low-lying coastal communities such as Miami and the South Florida area.

Addressing climate change starts at home, said Berbrick.

"We can tackle it by building infrastructure that's as resilient as our people and by helping people understand the impacts of rising seas and stronger storms; and converting that knowledge into practical actions that benefit our communities, our Navy, and our nation," said Berbrick.

NWC is a one-year resident program that graduates about 600 resident students and about 1,000 distance learning students each year. Its primary mission is to educate and develop future leaders. Additional missions include: helping to define the future Navy and its roles and missions, supporting combat readiness, strengthening global maritime partnerships, promoting ethics and leadership throughout the force, contributing knowledge to shape effective decisions through our John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research, providing expertise and advice to the international legal community through the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law. Students earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) credit and either a diploma or a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies or Defense and Strategic Studies. Established in 1884, U.S. Naval War College is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. More than 50,000 students have graduated since its first class of nine students in 1885 and about 300 of today’s active duty admirals, generals and senior executive service leaders are alumni.

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Daniel L. Kuester

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