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Training and Education Command

United States Marine Corps
First termers faced with career decisions

By Lance Cpl. Rebecca A. Lamont | | May 27, 2010

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Many Marines anticipate summer for the warm, sunny weather and the days relaxing at the beach or camping with friends. However, many first term Marines whose active duty end of service dates are in FY11, will be approached this summer with the opportunity to have a future in the Marine Corps.

Incentives for reenlistment will be available in July and the retention specialist office will be accepting reenlistment packages from July 1 to Aug. 1.

 “Right now, first term Marines need to reach out,” said Staff Sgt. Nichole R. Richard, career planner, career retention specialist, Headquarters and Service Battalion. “The opportunity to reenlist is getting slimmer and slimmer. The slimmest it has been in a very long time.”

The Corps are getting back to when it was a lot more competitive, like in 2001 and 2002. We are enforcing our higher standards more strictly, and allowing only the best of the best to reenlist, she said.

“Roughly 36,000 first term Marines join the ranks of the Marine Corps every fiscal year, and only about 6,300 get to stay in,” said Master Sgt. Marcus L. Cook, career retention specialist, Headquarters and Service Battalion.

He advises Marines to submit their reenlistment packages as early as possible because boat space is limited, he said.

However, those who want to reenlist will comply with thorough background checks, Richard said.

Marines must not fall under the Lautenberg Amendment, which is the Gun Control Act of 1968, making it a felony for those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition. If they legally cannot have a weapon because they got in trouble in the civilian sector, either involving spousal abuse or harboring a weapon without a permit, they cannot reenlist.

In addition, Marines must have no more than two non-judicial punishments; not be guilty of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated; have little, but preferably nothing adverse in their page 11s, have high proficiency and conduct marks, and have a very high score on the physical fitness test and combat fitness test, Richard said.

“First termers may feel like they are competitive,” said Richard. “But even if they meet the bare minimum requirements, they still could be only average or below average compared to their peers. The more important question is, how competitive am I compared to my peers Corps-wide? It’s those who are most competitive and well-rounded that will get the opportunity to reenlist.”

Reenlistment incentives may include special duty, duty station preference, jump school, 60 points added to composition scores, lateral moves and bonuses.

“There will be very small bonuses for this FY,” said Richard. “It’s essentially on a first come, first serve basis. If you wait, the bonuses go fast. “

For example, a Marine could get a bonus one month for a particular military occupational specialty, and the next month that Marine’s friend won’t qualify for a bonus and wonder why. That’s how time-sensitive this is, said Richard.

I advise first termers not to wait and to be ahead of the game,” said Richard. “I have a screening checklist I go over with them so if they need to re-take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test (to increase their scores to be more competitive), they have the time to do so.” 

Marine’s who choose to make a lateral move may choose an MOS that requires the Marine to have a higher GT score than what they currently have. If this is the case, the Marine will have to retake the ASVAB.

If a Marine would like more time to think about reenlisting, he or she can ask for another three-year or two-year contract. However, there will be no incentives or bonuses accompanying that because that would be considered their incentive, said Richard.

Career specialists are available for guidance for those individuals who wish to reenlist as well as those who don’t. For either choice, it’s important to start now and have a good plan, said Richard.

It’s paramount Marines start thinking about their future in the Corps a year before their end of active service to ensure they have a good plan, she said.

“I also encourage spouses to talk to career specialists as well, so everyone is informed and there are no surprises for anyone,” said Richard.

It’s important to keep family involved in the Marines’ decision making, she said.

“We just want to ensure there are no missed opportunities,” said Richard.

My advice for Marines considering a career in the Corps, it’s crucial for them to ask themselves what kind of path they’re on. If they can be doing something to better themselves as Marines, like volunteer work, it will be noticed that they go above and beyond, said Richard.

“Marines must be aware that the decisions they make today can impact their lives down the road,” said Richard. “For example, excessive tattoos can affect incentives like Marine Corps Security Guard duty, recruiting duty, officer programs, warrant officer and police officer.”

For more information Marines can visit the career retention office or make an appointment by calling (619)-524-0966.

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