COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq -- For many Marines, the end of their first term of duty could be the end of their career in the Marine Corps. For others, it’s just a beginning. In either case, as the end nears it is important to have all the facts and information available so Marines can make the best decision for their careers.
The monitor’s ‘Road Show’ visited the Marines of Task Force Highlander on July 16, 2007, to ensure the Marines got the information they needed to explore their options as their terms of enlistment come to a close.
“The retention assistance visit is designed to aid career retention specialists, but more importantly it is designed to aid individual Marines and the Corps as a whole,” said Staff Sgt. Jackie L. Hansen, the career management team liaison for reserve affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps, Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
The team of monitors, called the ‘Road Show’, may change but their goal remains the same.
“The team always changes, but we make sure there is at least one monitor here to speak on behalf of the MOS’s that may not be present. The road show goes all over and there are sometimes more than one at a time. The effect is that we get to help a larger area of Marines, and it spreads our attention to all of our Marines,” said Hansen, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native.
On their visit to Iraq, the group of monitors scheduled stops to 13 outposts and bases over a three week period. On their visit here, they aided in over 70 reenlistment packages.
“The monitors were here to focus on facilitating first term retention efforts and assist in increasing the size of the Marine Corps. They entertained requests about bonuses, special incentives, duty station preferences, lateral moves, and provided general information on career options,” said Staff Sgt. Tim. M. Wray, the career retention specialist for 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2.
“The road show is when we do the deals,” said Hansen. “The gloves are off, and we are welcoming our Marines with open arms. We provide instant orders and duty assignments; we guarantee special duty and other preferences provided the Marine signs up today. It’s like a free-for-all one-time-offer thing, and it makes the Marines happy.”
“I’m really glad they came,” said Cpl. Jeremy W. Alexander, a team leader with the battalion’s Company D. “They explained a lot of things I didn’t understand and laid everything out for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known how to go about trying to get into recon. Thanks to them I’m submitting a package, and I got a really sweet deal.”
Alexander, a Cedar Park, Texas, native, went on to say the visit increased the Marines’ morale.
“This takes a weight off our shoulders. Now we know what road we are on and what to expect. Before there were all these ‘what if’s,’ but now we all know what it is we want and exactly how to go about getting it,” said Alexander.
“It makes me happy that they are happy,” Hansen said, indicating the Marines around her. “It’s good to see them all get what they want, and they deserve it, they really do. They deserve whatever they want.”
Hansen went on to say it was important for the Marines to meet the people who control their careers.
“Too often the image these guys get is a faceless entity behind a desk moving them around like chess pieces and that’s just not the case. This gives them a chance to see we are people just like them, and we are willing to do whatever we can to take care of them. If they come in with an idea of what they want, generally speaking they leave with a guarantee,” said Hansen.
Wray, a native of St. Charles, Mo., agreed with the importance of face-to-face meetings between the Marines and their monitors. He said the effect on their morale and the ease of mind is what influences Marines toward their career decisions.
“This opportunity to actually interact with the decision makers motivates Marines to explore their options,” Wray said. “Even the ones who were undecided or had decided not to reenlist got the chance to get information and sort out the facts to help them make an informed decision.”
Marines can contact their monitors over the phone, e-mail, in person, or by using their chain of command. For more information about monitors and how to speak with them, contact your unit’s career retention specialist.