MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
After spending 11 years in the Marine Corps, Ricardo Slowly decided it was his time to leave, but after he hit the job market looking for a career opportunity, he soon found out the Corps never left him.
He got in touch with Marine For Life, a program that assists Marines who have been honorably discharged from the service, helping them transition from the Corps back into the civilian world.
Created in 2002 by then Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James L. Jones, Marine For Life was designed to connect with the Marine-friendly networks that already existed in the community to strengthen the Marine Corps’ ties with the civilian community.
However, in 2004, out of necessity, the program, under the direction of then commandant, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, shifted focus to the Marine For Life Injured Support Section to assist those wounded from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom
Once the Wounded Warrior Regiment was fully established, in 2008 the Marine For Life program got back to its original mission of assisting all transitioning Marines.
Since then, Lt. Col. Jerard Brewer, Marine For Life’s southeast district officer in charge stationed aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, has been actively engaging employers in the community to spread the program’s message.
“We are here to assist Marines and even sailors who have been attached to Marine units when they decide it’s their time to leave the military,” Brewer said. “We do this by partnering with veteran friendly and Marine-preferred employers in the public and private sector and assist Marines with their life’s goals.”
Before service members can depart the military, it’s mandatory for them to attend the Transition Assistance Management Program, which provides service members employment assistance, vocational guidance, and transition information. This is when Marine For Life representatives make their presence known.
“Many Marines do not know about us,” Brewer said. “We give a brief about what we can do for Marines and sailors who are transitioning back to the civilian world and let them know that they can come see us any time throughout their career.”
Brewer added that the program’s title should be taken literally.
“Whether you have been out for four years or 20, any time down the road, Marine For Life will assist in any way,” he said.
The program, fully staffed by Marine reservists, assists by developing interviewing skills and producing resumes and even offers to make contact with an employer on the service member’s behalf.
Since the program is a nationwide effort, designated Marine reservists are located throughout the United States.
Sgt. Nichole H. Mason, the Jacksonville, N.C., area hometown link, said though Marine For Life is here to help, they are not responsible for job placement.
“We can’t be responsible for actually getting that Marine or sailor hired,” Mason said. “We will give them the tools to make them competitive as possible, make contact with the business and send job listings, but ultimately, it’s up to them.”
After listening to a brief about Marine For Life during TAMPs, Slowly approached Mason to get the process started. He created his profile, received resume-building skills and submitted his experience for employers to see. Within three weeks, he accepted an offer he couldn’t refuse, as a floor mechanic for defense contractor, AECOM.
“Transitioning from active-duty military to civilian life is one of the hardest things a service member will ever go through,” Slowly said. “It will do a lot more harm if no one uses this program than if they did. This program is solely designed for that and the opportunities are definitely there.”
Mason encourages Marines and sailors to contact Marine For Life once they’ve decided it’s their time to leave to help make that transition that much smoother.
“We are an active, growing program,” Mason said. “It’s all about Marines helping Marines and that’s what we are here to do.”
For more information about Marine For Life, go to www.m4l.usmc.mil, or call 1-866-645-8762.