MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, the 17th sergeant major of the Marine Corps, paid his first visit to the service members of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune during a tour throughout the Marine Corps’ East Coast installations, June 24.
Barrett’s first stop on Camp Lejeune was a visit to the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East headquarters, where he met with wounded Marines and saw their day-to-day life.
During his visit, Barrett spoke to the Marines like a friend who has not seen the other in years. He asked them about their families, plans after the military, what colleges they wanted to attend and whatever else was on their mind.
“We talked about the benefits exercise has on the minds and how it reduces symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” said Chris Clark, a certified athletic trainer with the Warrior Athletic Reconditioning program of WWBN-East. “Studies have shown that it changes the brain chemistry by decreasing anxiety, depression and night terrors, so we showed him how we encourage the wounded warriors to exercise at least three times a week for an hour each time.”
Following his tour of the barracks, Barrett was shown the new transition facility currently under construction near Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune. He then joined the wounded Marines for a lunch at the naval hospital.
Barrett’s final destination aboard Camp Lejeune before attending the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion’s Change of Command ceremony aboard Camp Geiger was the theater where he spoke to more than 200 Marines.
“I’ve already been asked countless times what I was inheriting by becoming the new Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps,” said Barrett. “I would tell them about Capt. Ademola Fabayo and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, two Marines who were recently awarded the Navy Cross at the Museum of the Marine Corps. Marine trainers and Afghan forces in the Kunar province, Afghanistan, were ambushed by 50 insurgents on three sides. Everyone went down, and multiple times these two Marines went in to help relieve pressure and each time grabbed a comrade-in-arms and took them out of there. So when I’m asked what I’m inheriting, I tell them absolutely fearless Marines.”
After a brief speech about how proud Barrett was of the Marines he represents, he took time to answer some questions from the crowd. One question that arose was regarding the new physical fitness test for women in the Marine Corps.
In an e-mail circulating in the Marine Corps, it specified that women would be required to do a 70-second hang followed by six pull-ups to receive 100 points for that portion of the PFT.
Barrett assured the Marines that the e-mail was not the final draft of the new PFT, but that it is never too early to start preparing for whatever the new standards will be.
Another topic that arose regarding females was the concept of placing them in combat.
“The Department of Defense will make the final decision, but in my opinion I’m all for women in combat,” said Barrett. “In the 13 months I was deployed I saw them get into places men couldn’t and talk to females and elders. They have gotten behind a (M 249 squad automatic weapon), been first responders and served in female engagement teams.”
Barrett also addressed the drawdown of Marines from 202,000 to 186,000 and stated that every day in the Marine Corps should be like a qualification day and a chance to improve oneself and stand above the rest.
As the meeting drew to an end, Barrett reiterated how proud he was to be representing the Marines and that he would gladly serve another 30 years.
“Every Marine is a national treasure,” said Barrett. “And we all need to look out for each other.”