In this file photo, Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Callie Walker of USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) poses for a picture with students during a community service project at Sullivans Elementary School on base in Yokosuka, Japan, Jan. 18, 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor)

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) - Taking an assignment to Japan is a career milestone that can diversify and complement the 21st century Sailor's career portfolio, officials said March 13.

"Flexibility is a big part of being a Sailor, but it's especially a big part of what we would call a 21st century Sailor," said Lt. Lance Lindley, flag secretary and force manpower officer for Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force Seventh Fleet (CTF 72).

"In the current environment, we have to stay flexible and it's long been said that if you're going to make the Navy a career, you should expect to do at least one overseas tour," said Lindley. "So, if you're a Sailor who is just coming into the Navy, it might be a good idea to get that overseas tour early, because if you find that you like it, you can spend a good portion of your career overseas and that's not a detriment, that's actually a positive."

Chief Navy Counselor (SW/SCW) Jascha Janssen, CTF-72, said Japan has about 6,000 shore duty billets and approximately 13,000 sea duty billets spread out among five installations and 18 ships across Japan.

For those stationed in Japan, many of the same services and programs are available as at bases in the United States, including medical, dental, commissary and exchange facilities, child development centers, DoD Schools and a wide range of Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

"In a lot of cases, the range of support and services offered in Japan is more robust because we know that people are stationed outside their domestic culture and that they're going to rely a lot more on base services," said Lindley.

"When you do decide to venture off of base, the Japanese culture is extremely historic, it's fascinating. There are great people, it's a beautiful country and there's a lot to do. You can see things that are a little more familiar like Tokyo Disneyland, to things that are more exotic like Mt. Fuji and pretty much everything in between."

There are also significant monetary benefits for Sailors who take a billet in Japan. In addition to a Sailor's base pay and if they're on sea duty, sea pay, Sailors receive a cost-of-living allowance for themselves and their families, said Janssen.

On-base housing is available to Sailors in Japan, but living in the local community is an option too. Those who do live out on the economy will also receive and overseas housing allowance and utilities stipend.

"If you're thinking about Japan, the only thing I can say is just do it. It's a once in a lifetime experience," said Janssen.

If interested in pursuing orders to Japan, talk to your command career counselor. Sailors can also see a list of available billets through Career Management System/Interactive Detailing at www.cmsid.navy.mil.