Friday, October 22, 2010

Pentagon Gouge: Navy Working Uniform (NWU)

Like me, some of you have been in the National Capitol Region (NCR) for a while and not allowed to wear the new Navy Working Uniform (NWU).  As I prepare to execute my next set of PCS orders, I have found it necessary to embark on the quest for my own set of NWUs.

It has NOT been a smooth or easy process.

In the interest of helping you, my shipmates out, please allow me to offer the following recommendations for making your NWU purchase easier than mine.

Step 1)  Realize that the NWUs come in a completely new and different sizing system.
    Since the Navy uniform shop is INconveniently located in the bowels of the Navy Annex, I really didn't want to go out of my way to make the pilgrimage to the uniform shop only to find they didn't have what I needed.  So I had this bright idea to order my NWUs online.  The Navy Uniform website is actually a pretty good site.
    Unfortunately, I got to the website and discovered that you can't just order a size large blouse or type in the waist-size and inseam for my trousers.  Each have TWO sizes on their label, like "L/R," "M/L," or "L/L."  Huh?
    Okay, note to self:  For the initial purchase of my NWUs, I should probably actually GO to the uniform shop and try them on.
    But wait!  Don't leave the website yet!

Step 2)  Go ahead and order the name strips, rank insignia, warfare pin, and U.S. Navy strip from the website.
    They get it done pretty quick and ship it to your home.  The name strips take a few days to do, but it'll help make things go smoother when you already have them in hand.  The other stuff could wait, but you never know if they'll be out of your particular rank or warfare pin when you arrive at the uniform shop.

Step 3)  Look up the business hours of the uniform shop before you make the pilgrimage to the uniform shop.
    Did I mention how inconveniently located the uniform shop is in the basement of the Navy Annex?
    Here's what you DON'T want to happen.  You DON'T want to leave work "early" at 1600 in order to make a run to the uniform shop "on the way" home, battle for parking near the Navy Annex, hike to up the hill to the security entrance, and descend to the depths of the building... down the stairs... past the NFCU...  past the mini mart... around the corner... past the gym... alllllll they way down the hallway... and there it is.

The CLOSED sign.

    Yyyyyyyyeah, they closed at 1600.

    I imagine my face was probably red and smoke billowed from my ears (flashback to those jalepeno chips at the NEX in Pearl Harbor) as I walked all the way back up the hallway... past the gym... around the corner... past the mini mart... past the NFCU... up the stairs...  back through security... and back down the hill to where I parked my car again.

Step 4) Okay, wait, rewind.  Backup to Step 2 above.  
    Note to self:  The NWU requires TWO name-tapes per uniform.  One goes on the blouse.  One goes on the back of the trousers.  On your second trip to the uniform shop (because they were closed the first time you tried), if you go with just two name-tapes in-hand hoping to outfit yourself with two sets of NWUs, then you'll be disappointed. 
    So much for saving yourself some effort by ordering them online before going to the uniform shop.

Step 5) Get all this done so that your new NWUs are ready for pickup BEFORE you detach from your current duty station and turn in your Pentagon badge.  It just makes it easier for getting into the Navy Annex to go back to the uniform shop.  That being said, I'm happy to report that it was not difficult to get a visitor badge at the security shack.  It just would have been quicker and easier if I had done it before turning in my Pentagon badge.

Disclaimer:  Please don't take my gripes about the location of the Navy Annex uniform shop the wrong way.  I do not mean any of this to reflect negatively upon the uniform shop or staff.  It's an excellent, well-stocked uniform shop, and the staff there are extraordinarily helpful.

I just wish the location of the uniform shop was a little more convenient for quicker access.


FineNavyGray said...

Try using the phone NEX Uniform service.. 1-800-368-4088. They'll sew on the name tape prior to sending it, and it's pretty quick. Still recommend trying them on in the store for proper fit though.

blunoz said...

FineNavyGray, you are very wise. Yes, you're absolutely right. I half wrote this blog post as self-deprecating humor and half as lesson-learned, and you were able to boil it down to just the practical lesson-learned part.

If I were to go back and rewrite this post strictly from a, "Follow this procedure to get your NWUs," then I would write it just like you said:

Step 1. Go to the uniform shop and try them on to see what size you need.

Step 2. Go home and order them all online. That way you only have to make ONE trip to the basement of the Navy Annex, and the uniforms are delivered to your doorstep when they're done.

Hilary said...

Psssst.. you're overdue for a post! ;)

Thanks for your visit to my blog.. such kind words. :)

Oz said...

Also - DO get the pants long. If they're much too long, it doesn't matter because you blouse them up anyway. That required blousing will kill you if the pants are just a little too short - the cuffs will come popping out all the time.