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More options at end of enlistments

13 Nov 2009 | Cpl. R. Logan Kyle

Not all Marines plan to spend 20 years in the Corps. Some decide to get out after their initial enlistment to pursue other endeavors but still have the desire to wear the eagle, globe and anchor.

Luckily for them, the Marine Corps Reserves offers several programs which allow them to get the best of both worlds, said Staff Sgt. Matthew T. White, a prior service recruiter with Prior Recruiting District 12, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“When a Marine initially signs his first four-year contract, he or she signs up for four years active duty and four years in the [individual ready reserve],” White said. “There’s roughly 65,000 Marines in the IRR, and there are four different programs within the Marine Corps Reserves. There’s the IRR, the [Selected Marine Corps Reserves], the [Individual Mobilization Augment Detachment] and the Active Reserves.

“I affiliate Marines in the SMCR, IMA DET and the AR,” he continued. “Nine times out of ten, the Marines I affiliate come from the IRR.”

The SMCR is the basic reserve program, requiring Marines to train or “drill” one weekend each month and two weeks in the summer.

“During the year, a Marine must complete 50 drills for a satisfactory year toward their retirement.” White said. “A Marine can do three or four drills in a weekend and make hundreds of dollars for only a couple of days of work.”

White also said Marines in the SMCR deploy to countries around the world other than Iraq and Afghanistan.

The AR program consists of reserve officers and enlisted Marines who serve in designated, full-time active duty billets. The program, established in 1994, evolved from the former Full Time Support program and currently employs nearly 2,400 Reserve Marines. AR Marines support the organization, training, instruction, retention, and administration of the Marine Corps Reserve.

The AR program provides qualified Marines an opportunity to serve on active duty and qualify for retirement benefits after 20 years of service. AR Marines are assigned to major Marine Corps bases and stations, headquarters, and reserve unit locations.

IMA DETS serve the purpose of supporting active duty organizational requirements. During periods of mobilization and wartime, IMAs fill out active duty structures and occupy organizations not needed during peace time.

During other periods, the IMA supports the active duty mission, and becomes prepared to step in and be fully functional during mobilization.

In order to be eligible for the reserve programs, Marines need to provide several documents and be up-to-date with their annual training requirements like the physical fitness test and the rifle range, White said.

“The most important thing Marines need is the [DD Form 214],” he said. “Every Marine knows what this is because it’s the form that says they are out of the Marine Corps. Some Marines laminate it, some Marines are going to wear it around their neck like ‘What About Bob?’ and his goldfish. Some Marines are going to put it up above their fireplace and stare at it aimlessly all day long because it’s just the greatest thing to them.”

White also said up-to-date medical and dental records, as well as a copy of their service record books, are required. For sergeants and above, there can be no gaps in their fitness reports whatsoever.

White said there are several benefits for Marines to consider when deciding whether or not to join the reserves.

“These programs give Marines the option of going to school, having a part-time job and maintaining affiliation with the Corps while choosing where they want live,” he said.

Besides the benefits the SMCR provides to Marines, there is another stipulation which may mean more to those who have multiple deployments under their belts.

According to MARADMIN 253/06, Marines who join the SMCR may defer deployments for a period of up to 24 months after their last combat deployment as an active duty Marine if the deployment fell within the last 12 months of their end of active service date.

“This is one of the best things for Marines who have deployed over and over again to Iraq and Afghanistan,” White said. “It’s a great way for them to stay affiliated with the Marine Corps and get a break from going overseas.”

White said he takes a different approach when recruiting Marines for the reserve programs.

“Typically when Marines get out, they think it’s better on the other side,” White said. “We don’t use traditional recruiting methods. Marines know what the Corps is like, and we’re here to let them know what they can do and the programs available as a Reserve Marine.”

Cpl. Eloy Lopez, recently worked with White to rejoin the Corps ranks as a reservist.

“I went through the [Yucca Valley, Calif.] recruiter’s office and got in contact with him,” said the Andrews, Texas native. “We discussed all the options I had and I ended up with [4th Tank Battalion].”

Lopez also said he encourages Marines who are getting out soon to stay in touch with recruiters and look into the opportunities for reserve Marines.

“What we want to accomplish here is to give a Marine options and we’re giving them the option of the reserves,” White said. “It lets them know the Marine Corps isn’t turning its back on them.”

For more information about any of the reserve programs, contact your unit career retention specialist or phone Prior Recruiting District 12 at (760) 725-9669.

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