JACKSONVILLE, N.C. --
When the average person thinks of any veteran service organization, they envision a group solely consisting of old, retired service members from past wars. However, the service members or civilians who are familiar with organizations like these will tell you this is not the case at all.
One of these organizations is the Marine Corps League – Onslow County Detachment, catering to all ages of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River Marines and Fleet Marine Force sailors, both active and retired.
“The Marine Corps League is not here just for the retired Marines, but just as equally for whatever active duty would like to get involved,” said Jack Jackson, the public affairs officer for the Onslow County Detachment of the MCL. “It doesn’t matter if you’re an 18-year-old private first class or a 60-year-old retired general - you’re as qualified to join as the next guy.”
Established in 1923, the Marine Corps League has since been dedicated to voluntarily aid in the well-being of any current or former Marines and FMF corpsmen, as well as to their widows. It is also the only federally chartered Marine Corps related veteran service organization in the United States. Altogether, the League has more than 76,000 members, with approximately 140 of those belonging to the Onslow County detachment.
“The League even helps with those striving to become Marines in the future,” said Mike Rooney, senior vice commandant for the Onslow County Detachment of the MCL. “We get involved with the Marine Corps (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) as well as four different Young Marine groups.”
Whereas all veteran groups are bound to hold some number of retirees, the younger generations of active-duty members are making their way into the ranks. Currently, there are approximately 20 private first classes, three lance corporals and one corporal attached to the Onslow County Detachment. At the monthly meetings, held every third Thursday of the month, there is a strong representation from the young active-duty members putting their two cents in.
“The Marine Corps League represents the active-duty Marines along with the retirees in congress when any changes that might affect them occur, such as the recent changes to the G.I. Bill,” said Jackson. “It also helps these younger Marines network both with the retirees and also with the other Marines of the detachment. We’ll also help a Marine leaving active duty look for a job and set up some contacts.”
With all the opportunities and assistance offered to the active-duty side of the Marine Corps and FMF corpsmen, it’s a wonder why, out of the entire Camp Lejeune and New River population, so few take part in veteran service organizations such as the MCL. While there is a strong presence of young Marines at the meetings, the detachment is always looking for more new members.
“I myself am 74 years old and there are three members here in their 80s,” said Rooney. “We need younger blood, not only to help spread the word on the base and get active in outside events, but we need them to wake up us old timers!”
The next Onslow County detachment meeting is to be held Feb. 17 at the Moosehead Lodge at 135 Moosehaven Road; those interested in joining the detachment are able to do so at the meeting. For more information about the Marine Corps League, call the detachment at 330-6853.