After she graduated from college in 1980 with a degree in physical education and health, Jan Wiley couldn’t find a teaching job. “I thought, my Dad was in the Navy and he seemed to have a good time, so I joined!”
Starting out as an unrestricted line officer, Wiley then transitioned to aviation management. “I was an aircraft maintenance officer in the Navy for just short of 23 years,” she recalled. During her Navy career, Wiley did two tours at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, where she eventually retired from, as well as tours in Puerto Rico, Italy, Hawaii, Virginia, and California.
“I loved taking all those aviation maintenance courses and I loved the jets,” she said. Wiley said she sent many junior Sailors to the Society for budget counseling over the years, and remembered the Society after she retired. “I thought coming to the Society as a volunteer would be a good way to stay in touch with Sailors and help them,” she said.
At NMCRS Jacksonville, Wiley trained to be a caseworker. “It was actually a fairly easy transition,” she explained. “I’ve always been pretty good at budgeting. I helped my folks pay half of my college tuition and always kept myself on a tight budget.”
Wiley has enjoyed the camaraderie with volunteers and Navy personnel who come into the office. She also volunteers with K-9s for Warriors, training puppies and rescue dogs to work with veterans.
After joining the Society as a volunteer, Wiley enlisted her mother, Marilyn Nielsen, to help as well. “My mom is 94,” she said. “And she still knits. Shortly after I started here I learned about our Budget for Baby program and the junior Sea Bags we provide Sailors and I got my mom involved knitting baby blankets. She’s recruited her friends to knit as well. My dad served in the Navy during World War II, and when my mom started knitting blankets for the Society, she said she was doing it in his honor.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso