News: DC Mega Muster draws in IRR Marines and other service chiefs
Story by Cpl. Marcin Platek
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Leaving the active-duty service does not signify a cut of all ties to the Marine Corps.
This was true for 935 Individual Ready Reserve Marines who attended an Individual Ready Reserve mega-muster held at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center here, March 9.
After the competition of active-duty, some Marines might still have an obligation to remain in the IRR. They become stand-by troops that can be recalled to be reintegrated into the active force. Besides remaining fit for duty, they also receive orders to attend these annual musters.
A mega-muster is a multi-regional effort to gather IRR Marines where 1,000 or more orders of attendance are sent out. The Marine Corps hosts 11 of these mega-musters along with another 27 smaller-scale musters annually. The muster, which is mandated by Title X of the United States Code, ensures that IRR members are administratively capable of reintegration and have their contact information up to date in case they receive recall orders. There, they are also screened for medical problems and provided with valuable information about educational benefits and job opportunities for veterans.
“This provides a huge advantage to everything that the commandant and the Marine Corps believe in,” said Col. James E. Fox, the director of Marine Corps Individual Reserve Support Activity, Marine Forces Reserve. “The intangibles of physically seeing and talking to the Marines and letting them know that these things are available to them keeps them engaged with the Corps. It lets them know they joined the Marine Corps for a reason.”
Staying obligated to the service yet still being eligible for benefits, Fox said the targeted Marines, who have completed their initial active service within past six to 24 months, were absolutely thrilled to be there and see other Marines and the services available.
One of the many participants who received orders to the muster, 1st Lt. Elliot Cashell, attended in hope of receiving help with an administrative problem he had been dealing with since leaving active duty three months ago. He thought it was going to be a brief visit but was surprised at all the assistance available. He said the help he encountered was very professional and helpful, and he also found many more resources were on hand than he imagined.
In addition to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 44 other muster partners and services were present, including Military One Source, Marine For Life, Warrior and Family Support, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, prior-service recruiting, and Navy and Marine Corps medical teams.
From Fox’s point of view, one of the most important things to do for IRR Marines is to medically screen them and make sure post-deployment health and mental assessments are thoroughly completed.
“That is keeping faith,” he said.
The physical screening is very important to identify physical and mental issues, added Fox. This way, problems can be pinpointed immediately and resources can begin to offer help for the Marines at the muster.
Overall, the Marine Corps and Navy medical teams present at the muster assisted 67 Marines with post-deployment health reassessment and connected 14 Marines with the Psychological Health Outreach Program. At the muster, 400 Marines also connected with ESGR, 585 registered with the VA, 250 connected with M4L, and 256 met with prior-service recruiters.
“(These) events provide great opportunities to keep faith with our Marines by connecting them with local resources in three critical areas - health, employment, and education,” said Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, the commander of MARFORRES and Marine Forces North.
The mega-muster was not only attended by the IRR Marines, but also by Reserve service chiefs invited by Hummer. Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, the chief of the National Guard Bureau; Army Maj. Gen. Bert K. Mizusawa, the assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff for Reserve Matters; Navy Rear Adm. Eric C. Young, the deputy chief of Navy Reserve; and Dennis Biddick, the deputy assistant secretary of Navy Reserve Affairs, were in attendance.
“The general officers present were initially briefed on the IRR muster program, toured the venue, and spoke with many supporting organizations as well as our IRR Marines,” said Hummer. “I believe they departed with a very favorable impression of the muster program as well as its return on investment.”
Since the Marine Corps is the only service that contacts and physically screens its IRR members, the event represented the capability of the Marine Corps IRR program to gather, screen and help its members.
“I found the Marines to be very appreciative of the opportunities provided by the IRR muster,” said Hummer. “I believe we are supporting an improved process that encourages Marines to take advantage of the benefits and entitlements they have earned and better prepares them for their future.”
MCIRSA is expected to hold seven mega-musters in the upcoming months: Cleveland (March 23), St. Louis (April 6), Austin, Texas (April 20), Tacoma, Wash. (May 18), Madison, Wis. (June 8), Pittsburg (June 22), and Salt Lake City (August 10).
To confirm these dates and other future events, contact MCIRSA at 504-697-8468.