There’s no such thing as an “ex” marine.
I’m sure we have all heard that at one time or another. And, at least from my experience, this has been true.
I’m not a former Marine, of course, but I have worked with and befriended quite a few Marines both during and after my service and I think I’ve met enough to say that becoming a Marine requires something that the other services don’t, at least not the basic individual (SOF might be an exception). Being in any branch of the military requires a commitment and it influences every aspect of your life but the training and culture of the Marine Corps seem to take it to a whole different level – almost like the difference between putting on a suit of armor and having it embedded in you, Wolverine-style. The change from civilian to Marine is so profound that, even decades after they stop serving, you can still see the imprint on them.
They pretty much feel that way about themselves as well – “Semper Fidelis” isn’t just a phrase – and are one of the best branches when it comes to taking care of their people after they leave the service. One of the most prevalent organizations which does this, and one I have interacted with personally, is the Marine Corps League.
Formed in 1923 by “then Major General Commandant John A. Lejeune,” and then given a Federal Charter in 1937 by the 75th Congress, making it the only federally chartered Marine Corps related veterans organization in the country, the Marine Corps League is incredibly active in their communities. They run several programs, such as the U.S. Marines Youth Physical Fitness Program, and participate in the Marines famed yearly Toys-for-Tots drive. Additionally, they have several programs to provide financial and other support to Marines and their families.
First, they have the Marines Helping Marines program, which assists injured Marines and Navy Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Corpsmen during their hospitalization. The assistance comes in the form of financial assistance for the visiting families (phone cards, restaurant vouchers, etc.), DVDs and other materials that help lessen the monotony for an extended hospital stay, and morale boosting events, such as BBQs for the “walking wounded” and baseball outings for “outpatient” Marines.
They also provide scholarships, such as the Marine Corps Scholarship, to the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Marine Corps League members in good standing and the Heroes Tribute Scholarship Program for Children of the Fallen, which can provide up to $30,000 over four years for children of Marines and Navy FMF Corpsmen who died in combat.
Additionally, each Detachment has its own programs for assisting former Marines and their children. One example I can give from when I worked at the college involved one of my students, a former Marine who had a few outstanding fees he’d accumulated during a bad semester when he was newly out of the military and coping with some intense physical and PTSD issues. Without payment of those fees, he wouldn’t be able to register and continue on with his program. He could pay part of the fees but not all, so I sent him to talk to the local Marine Corps League Detachment. At the time, they were offering a program to former, honorably discharge Marines, where they would, once in that Marine’s lifetime, pay one bill up to $200. The student applied and after the local league rep called me (with the student’s consent, of course) to confirm his story, the rest of his fees were paid and he was able to enroll for the next term. And, thankfully, went on to earn an incredible GPA that term. Not all detachments have that program, as running it is, of course, based on donations, but it is one example of the financial assistance that may be available at the local detachment closest to you.
If you’re a former Marine in a rough patch, contact your local detachment and see how they can help – and don’t feel bad asking, it’s really no different than asking your fellow Marine to lay down cover fire for you – you get help where help is needed. And if you’re a former Marine looking for a way to give back or, like my former student, a former Marine who has benefited from the league’s generosity, don’t forget to give back, whether financially or with your time. Once a Marine, always a Marine.
To check out the Marine Corps League, go to: http://www.mcleague.com/mdp/index.php You can click on “Find a Detachment” on the lower left to find the detachment in your area.
To learn more about the Marines Helping Marines Program, go to: http://www.marineshelpingmarines.org/
And to find out more about the scholarships, go to: http://www.mcsf.org/
© 2014 – 2020, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.