Becoming an Enlisted or Commissioned United States Marine

I’m just an old man sitting on the porch with a bunch of opinions. There are better opinions from better Marines out there.  Just the same, wish some old Marine had given me some pointers before stepping on that bus.  All went well, but there’s always better.

Before Middle School

Back when the President of the United States was held as a citizen of the highest integrity, behavior, and standards, we were often told we might be president someday if we held those traits.  While integrity and honor may not be a common pursuit today, if you want to become a Marine, deficits in those may cause problems.  Your behavioral history may be reviewed may disqualifying you from enlistment or commission. It also may hinder you later in your Marine Corps career.

Want to become a Marine? You could forfeit that from a DUI, minor in possession, misdemeanor vandalism, shoplifting, simple assault, theft by receiving, or having your school records indicate cheating. Stupid things that young people do, but all are choices.  Even as an accomplice at one of these asinine protest/riots/lootings bullsh** could be a premature end to your plans.  These type of “infractions” may not keep you out of your enlistment opportunity, but may bite you later.

As an S3 Officer, completing paperwork on security clearances REQUIRED digging.  High school records were reviewed, past school friends were interviewed.  

Simply put, behave deliberately. Make intelligent choices. Anything “wrong” you may have done doesn’t necessarily disqualify you, but having to get a “waiver” for that indiscretion at any point may have consequences or restrictions later. Do nothing you want to hide and you will have nothing to hide.

Before High School

You’ll have to pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test.  It’s like a college entrance exam.  Don’t sweat it. If you are doing well in school academically, you’ll do fine on the ASVAB as well.  Hedge your bets and be deliberate in your academics by reading and practicing with a test prep book like this:

Before Boot Camp

Fitness: High school fitness including school sports teams and after school gym workouts.  Though I did fine at boot camp, knowing and being prepared for specific physical strength skills would have helped. Back then it was push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and the three mile run.  Running was a strength everyone can prepare for.  I hadn’t.   Find out what will be expected from you when before you arrive.  

Academics: While not necessary, if you’re a super go-getter, why not read up on the what they’ll be teaching you in the classroom?  Here’s an extra-credit book to read. Make sure to get the latest edition possible:

Before the Contract

The Corps must fill “jobs” (MOS Marine Occupation Specialties) that are short on manpower. You can have your contract specify the MOS you want. Make sure that MOS number is in print theon your contract before signing.

It’s been over 37 years since I stood on those yellow footprints and 34 years since gold bars were pinned on my epaulettes.  Everything likely changed. Yet an old Marine telling you to get in shape, don’t light that joint, don’t vandalize the rival school for your senior prank, and pay attention in class isn’t bad advice.  Becoming a Marine was one of the best decisions I ever made. My Marine brothers and sisters remain the finest people I’ve had the honor of knowing. Maybe this half-arsed blog article may prove useful. If it has, there’s much better information out there from much better Marines.  See a Marine at a public event, tell them you want to become a Marine and what’s their advice.  Ask them about their best memories.  Thank them for their time and get the hell out of their space.  You’re blocking their view. Ooohrah.

God bless the Marine Corps. Semper Fi.

Make sure you go read this page:  Becoming a Marine

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