A Career of Commitment

Paralegal Specialist Jeanne M. Kalinoski retires after 42 years of service By Lt. j.g. Michael Wester, Region Legal Service Office Midwest A dead cat – and tools to dissect it […]

Paralegal Specialist Jeanne M. Kalinoski retires after 42 years of service

By Lt. j.g. Michael Wester, Region Legal Service Office Midwest

 Senior Chief Robert Nail, USN, provides a gift of a flag that was previously flown at the Pentagon to Ms. Kalinoski during her retirement ceremony at RLSO MW on 30 Sep 2014.  "I will truly cherish this gift," she said.  (Photo by Lt. jg. Michael Wester, JAGC, USN)

Senior Chief Legalman Robert Nail provides a gift of a flag that was previously flown at the Pentagon to Jeanne Kalinoski during her retirement ceremony, Sept. 30, 2014. (Photo by Lt. j.g. Michael Wester)

A dead cat – and tools to dissect it – lay in front of a dispirited Jeanne Kalinoski sometime in the early 1970s. For the previous two years, she had taken college courses in nursing and science, but it wasn’t working out.

“Staring at that lifeless cat, I knew I couldn’t do this any longer,” she said.

On a whim, she applied for a position as a File Clerk (GS-2) at Naval Hospital Great Lakes in North Chicago, Ill.  Forty two years later, she has officially retired from a career as a Navy civilian employee.

Kalinoski’s career is truly a hallmark of the Navy core value of ‘commitment.’

When she started her career in the Navy as a file clerk in 1972, Kalinoski’s duties primarily consisted of making name tags and copies of documents for hospital personnel.  By the end of her career, however, she found herself routinely embroiled in command investigations and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests.

“I honestly went into most of my jobs in the Navy completely blind,” she said.  “On the first day, I would sometimes come into an empty office feeling quite overwhelmed.  But after awhile, I would get the hang of things.”

Indeed, despite not having a law degree, Kalinoski proved to be a quick study when it came to handling the legal side of the Navy.   By 1981, she was serving as a Legal Clerk (GS-5) in the Security Office of the hospital, where she handled all duties relating to military justice and administrative law for the hospital.  In 1991, she was promoted to Legal Technician (GS-7) at the hospital, where she handled command investigations into medical malpractice.

At about the same time Naval Hospital Great Lakes closed its doors in 2001, a Paralegal Specialist (GS-9) position opened at the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office at Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill.  The Navy didn’t have to look too far to find the right candidate.

“I was just happy that I didn’t even have to go through another interview process,” Kalinoski joked.

Kalinoski would finish the remainder of her career as a Paralegal Specialist.  In 2006, she was transferred to Region Legal Service Office Midwest (RLSO MW), where she worked closely with JAGs and legalmen on FOIA requests, ethics opinions, litigation reports and command investigations.

Always a presence in the office, Kalinoski is quick when asked about her fondest memories of service to the Navy.

“I always enjoyed the people I worked with,” she said.  “I’ve met so many wonderful people in this job who helped me throughout the years.  I already miss them.”

At her retirement ceremony at RLSO MW on Sept. 30, 2014, Kalinoski was her usual gregarious self.  But she did have blunt parting advice to the officers and enlisted members in attendance.

“Remember that civilian employees are the backbone of the Navy,” she said.  “Be respectful toward them.”

Though her career as a Navy civilian employee has ended, don’t expect Kalinoski to retire to the Arizona sun anytime soon.  She says her plan is to stay in North Chicago to spend time with her family.

Still, she’s not disappointed that she’ll no longer have to scamper around patches of ice on her way to work each morning during the winter months.

“I think my plan is actually to go into hibernation,” she joked.  “I hear the polar vortex is returning to the Chicago area this year.  I’ll be ready.”

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