Careers program turns into re-enlistment for 100 Marines on Okinawa
By JESSICA BIDWELL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 28, 2016
The Manpower Management Division Enlisted Road Show came to Okinawa to help Marines make career decisions, and for 100 of them, the choice was to re-enlist.
“The first-term Marines coming to the end of their first contract re-up defines the biggest effort in retention. We only retain 23-25 percent of those Marines,” Col. Rudy M. Janiczek said. “It is Important to identify the good ones, and that is where the leaders come in.”
The MMEA road show travels worldwide to give Marines the opportunity to take their careers into their own hands and speak to their monitors face-to-face, with 25 career monitors and two career counselors on hand.
It’s also an opportunity for the Marine Corps to retain its young. Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the III MEF commander, said keeping the best is critical amid the drawdown.
“We are looking for the Marine that has 100 options, the Marine that can go do 10 different things,” he said. “The future staff NCOs and officers of our corps, those are the Marines that we are really focused on. Our corps is shrinking, and we have the opportunity to be more selective and to pick only the best and most capable and most talented individuals to be our future staff NCOs and officers.”
Janiczek called the weeklong event that ended Friday a campaign for re-enlistment.
“Really where you make ground is sitting kneecap to kneecap with that particular Marine, talking about what he or she wants and aspires to do and really making sure the good Marines are identified and retained,” Janiczek said.
A variety of incentives were available for those who chose to re-enlist, including bonuses, choice of duty station and special-duty assignments.
Cpl. Archie Steele took the oath of re-enlistment so he could remain in Okinawa. He was born in the Philippines, so joining the military ironically brought him closer to home, and staying on Okinawa keeps him close to his wife and daughter while they pursue U.S. passports.
“They currently live in the Philippines; by staying on the island I get to be close to them until the process is complete,” Steele said.
The MMEA is a unique opportunity for junior marines. For the most part, when selecting orders, they negotiate with their senior NCOs as the middle men between them and their monitors.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Zuniga, III Marine Expeditionary Force career planner, says that means more direct input.
“These Marines got to speak on their on their own behalf, get the orders issued, raise their hand, and commit to those orders,” he said.
The success of this event has ensured that another MMEA team will visit the island within the next couple of months.