MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Many Marines often times dedicate 20 or more years in service to the Corps and to their country, but for some, 20 years of active-duty service is only the beginning of their contributions to the military community.
Gini Schopfel not only retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1993, but also dedicated 20 years of her life working as the director of Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
In the early 1970s, Schopfel believed women should not be exempt from the draft her male counterparts were obligated to register in.
“Everybody has the responsibility to pay taxes, to get a job, to take care of their families, to take care of each other and that includes military service” said Schopfel.
Schopfel went to The Basic School for Marine officers at Quantico, Va., before her senior year at Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va. After graduation she began her career as a personnel and administration officer in the midst of the Vietnam War in 1972.
“There were a lot of changes in the 20 years I was in. We integrated the Fleet Marine Force and did away with separate promotion boards for women,” said Schopfel. “It was a big time of growth in the Marine Corps for the utilization of women.”
After 20 years of service, she retired as the first female commander of the Personnel Administration School on Camp Johnson
After she retired from the Marine Corps, Schopfel said she wanted to continue to serve Marines and sailors so she applied for a position as the director of the Camp Lejeune branch of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
“I wanted to help educate Marines and sailors about financial management education and help them with emergency financial assistance by working through volunteers,” said Schopfel.
The NMCRS is a non-profit organization providing financial support to members of the Navy and Marine Corps, eligible family members, widows and survivors. The goal of NMCRS is to help Marines and sailors become financially self-sufficient through financial education.
Last year alone, the Camp Lejeune office provided $2.4 million in no-interest loans to more than 5,000 applicants. The office also provided $43,000 in grants.
Schopfel continues to help lead the Camp Lejeune NMCRS to its goals and the Camp Lejeune office celebrated her 20 year anniversary, July 26.
“She is always willing to go above and beyond to make sure we are assisting the Marines,” said Bryan C. Ayers, and intern case worker at the Camp Lejeune NMCRS.
After a combined 40 years of service to the military and its communities, Schopfel still leads and inspires those around her.
“I have learned to lead by example, be the voice of others, and provide mentorship and guidance to others as she has for me,” said Jennifer Roby, the chair of volunteers at the Camp Lejeune NMCRS. “I am blessed to work with her.”