News: Options available for life after the Corps
Story by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - As I Marine Expeditionary Force units return to Camp Pendleton from Afghanistan this month, some first-term Marines might find themselves preparing for their end of active service date.
For these Marines nearing their EAS date, there are more options available to them than just reenlisting or leaving the Marine Corps all together.
Through four programs - Individual Ready Reserve, Active Reserve, Individual Mobilization Augmentee program or Selective Marine Corps Reserve - Marines can stay green.
The administrative process for each option is different, and some may take longer than others.
Marines will conduct an interview with a career planner six to nine months before their EAS, said Master Sgt. Marcus L. Cook, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the career planner’s office at I Marine Headquarters Group.
“During the initial interview, career planners talk to Marines about their plans,” Cook said. “Our office assists Marines in what they need to do to prepare themselves for getting out or reenlistment.”
When Marines are exiting from the Marine Corps after their initial first term they are still in the Individual Ready Reserve.
“The only obligation Marines in the IRR have is to keep the Marine Corps updated on your current address and phone number, dependents, marital status, civilian employment information and changes to your health,” said Staff Sgt. Jose L. Alvarez, a prior service recruiter for the 12th Marine Corps District.
Marines who are in the IRR can also come back to the Marine Corps if they are needed and are qualified to do so.
Cpl. Heather A. Sample, who deployed with the Regimental Combat Team 7 female engagement team, wasn’t interested in going into the reserves when she left the Marine Corps but missed the intangible benefits of being an active-duty Marine.
“I met up with a prior service recruiter, and he went over the different programs available,” Sample said. “It took about a month to get orders I liked.”
The Selective Marine Corps Reserve program and the Individual Mobilization Augmentee program are two programs available to Marines after their first term. The SMCR is the reserve program most Marines are familiar with.
Marines in the SMCR and IMA are required to perform 48 drills per year, or 24 calendar days, as well as a two-week annual training period. Marines can choose what unit they will drill with according to where they are located and what is going on in their lives such as work or school.
The IMA program supports active-duty units by having reservists fill gapped critical positions.
Sample augmented to the FET team through the IMA program. She says she might not have received the same opportunity if she would have stayed on active duty.
Marines in the IMA program can choose what position they want to fill if they are qualified for that position.
One program that mirrors active-duty is the Active Reserve program. Marines make a three-year commitment when joining the AR program, and there are only a few MOSs deemed critical for the AR program. Marines can choose to fill a secondary MOS such as recruiter, drill instructor or Marine combat training instructor while in the AR program, and receive full benefits just like on active duty. Any Marine from any component other than active duty can join the AR program as long as those Marines meet the prerequisites for that MOS.
End of active service does not mean the end of your military career. There is always an option available to those who wish to keep their uniform on.
“I’m glad that I came back to the Marine Corps because I think it’s the right choice for me,” Sample said. “I missed the structure, and it helped me financially.”