Sean Spicer is now on the board of the Naval Academy

Sean Spicer and Jenna Johnson at the end of their performance of the Foxtrot on Dancing with the Stars. Spicer was one of six contestants left when he was eliminated Nov. 11. (Twitter/Dancing with the Stars)

Sean Spicer is back to business.

Spicer left behind the Foxtrot and flashy blouses of his recent stint on "Dancing with the Stars," donning a suit and magenta tie for his first Naval Academy Board of Visitors meeting Monday, where an expected budget approval delay was discussed despite infrastructure needs at the academy.

President Donald Trump appointed Spicer to the board in July, two years after Spicer resigned as Trump's first White House press secretary. The board is tasked with asking about the school's "morale, discipline, curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs [and] academic methods" under federal code. The board is required to visit the school once a year and issue a written report to the President of the United States within 60 days with "views and recommendations."

Spicer missed what would be his first board meeting in September to compete on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." He was voted off the show in November after making it to the Top 6.

"Mr. Spicer, welcome aboard. You have a really cool first name," Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said to Spicer after he took the oath of office at the start of Monday's meeting.

In his superintendent's update, Buck addressed the academy's financial situation. The academy receives $15 million biannually for renovation and modernization, which Buck says isn't enough.

"We're in a deep hole. We need to catch up," Buck said.

With the construction of a new cyber building — which Buck is asking $4.7 million a year for — and renovations needed on MacDonough Hall, the utility bridge, Naval Support Activity Annapolis (NSAA) waterfront and sea wall, Buck said the academy is literally falling apart without proper funding.

"We put band-aids on things and we hope," he said.

He told the board about an underground maintenance area of MacDonough Hall that scared him so much he thought, "I don't want to die this way."

Academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas clarified after the meeting that the area is structurally safe and off-limits to everyone except maintenance staff.

Buck said approval of his new budget requests for 2024 could be delayed with a new Navy secretary coming in. Trump tweeted plans to nominate retired Rear Adm. Kenneth Braithwaite to replace Richard Spencer last week. Braithwaite is a Naval Academy graduate and Spicer's former Commanding Officer in the Naval Reserve.

A 2018 audit found the infrastructure has degraded to the point of threatening the school's ability to train and educate midshipmen, according to the report by the Naval Audit Service.

At the change of command ceremony in July in which Buck relieved former Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter E. "Ted" Carter of his duties, Buck said he sees infrastructure and sexual assault as two challenges facing the institution.

Buck also announced that the Department of Defense's Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at Military Service Academies should be released later this month.

After the meeting, Spicer said he's excited for the challenges he'll face as part of the board.

"It's a huge learning opportunity," Spicer said. "It's so interesting to hear about the infrastructural challenges. It's a beautiful school, but you have to scratch beneath the surface, especially with things like sea-level rise threatening it."

Staff writer Rachael Pacella contributed to this report.

©2019 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) - Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Nothing says joint force battle management like a ride-sharing app. (Task & Purpose photo illustration)

The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.

The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.

Read More
The newly painted F-15 Eagle flagship, dubbed the Heritage Jet, was painted to honor 1st Lt. David Kingsley, the namesake for Kingsley Field, and his ultimate sacrifice. (U.S. Air National Guard/Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.

Read More
The wreckage of a U.S. Air Force E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft is seen after a crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan on January 27, 2020 (Reuters photo)

A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.

Read More
In this June 7, 2009 file photo Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) points to a player behind him after making a basket in the closing seconds against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41. (Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill)

Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.

Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.

Read More
Jessica Purcell of St. Petersburg, a captain in the Army Reserve, was pregnant with son Jameson when she was told at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic not to worry about lumps under her arm. She now is diagnosed stage 4 cancer. Jameson is 10 months old. (Tampa Bay Times/Scott Keeler via Tribune News Service)

Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.

Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.

It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.

Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.

A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.

Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.

With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.

Read More