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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Aug. 27, 2007)- Brig. Gen. David H. Berger, the assistant division commander of 2nd Marine Division, speaks to Marines and their families during the division?s family night for the First Term Alignment Plan. Berger, along with Sgt. Maj. Michael F. Jones, the division sergeant major, and the division family readiness office explained benefits and incentives for Marines and their families to re-enlist. The focus of the night was to get Marines? families to become involved in the decision-making process for re-enlistment.

Photo by Cpl. Lucian Friel

Staying Marine- a family affair

31 Aug 2007 | Cpl. Derek R. Cotton

Brig. Gen. David H. Berger, assistant division commander of 2nd Marine Division, wants to dispel a myth.

The myth is that when a Marine comes up for re-enlistment, he must choose between the Marine Corps and his family. This topic is no stranger to married Marines, especially those considering a first term re-enlistment.

“This isn't something we normally do,” Berger said in reference to the family-oriented First Term Alignment Plan meeting Aug. 27 at the base theater. “Families re-enlist, not just Marines … families.”

The meeting focused on educating not only the Marines, but also their entire families.

Berger and Sgt. Maj. Michael F. Jones, 2nd Marine Division sergeant major, started the meeting by drawing from personal experiences during their years as Marines. They spoke about opportunities they’ve capitalized on, such as Jones coaching his son's football team.

Jones explained he doesn’t have to sacrifice his family for the Marine Corps, but he does have to balance his duty and family responsibilities.

A give-and-take cycle between a Marine and the Corps is what Jones described while illustrating some of the benefits that go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Such benefits include safe gated communities on base, health care, shopping and taxes.

The leaders mentioned key benefits to Marines who are eligible for re-enlistment this fiscal year. Berger pointed out that a growing Marine Corps means not only training more recruits, but retaining leaders as well. This means better chances for promotion and healthy bonuses, but that's not all.

“The commandant's intent is to provide better lives for Marines,” Berger said.

Berger explained that having more Marines available for deployment cycles promotes mission accomplishment and troop welfare. He also spoke about not walking away until one gets everything available through the Marine Corps.

Gunnery Sgt. Donald G. Bird, a career retention specialist from Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., presented numbers, options and considerations a Marine needs to take into account when evaluating re-enlistment. He explained issues like pay comparisons, boat spaces, FTAP choices, guidelines and assignments.

After the FTAP breakdown, Bird listed the family benefits provided by Marine Corps Community Services, United Services Organizations Inc. and the YMCA. Some of those benefits include clothing, emergency food, child play groups, financial management and use of recreational equipment and facilities.

Bird made a family-friendly presentation full of need-to-know and want-to-know information.

“Get the information,” Bird said. “If you walk out of here tonight knowing something new, then we’ve done our jobs.”

The meeting’s importance was clear from the beginning; including the family in deciding whether to stay in or get out should not be overlooked since it is a decision that will affect the entire family. When it comes to FTAP, a family’s decision to “stay Marine” is supported to create a bigger and better Marine Corps.