In drafting wills for work today, I came across this GEM: "Other specific burial instructions: I WANT MY TOMBSTONE SHAPED LIKE A CAT" Hahahaha. I could not stop laughing! A Lance Corporal of Marines requested that!
Perhaps you've noticed in the Marine Corps, certain lags and delays in the processing and administration of paperwork--what seems to be a very simple and basic task. This particular endeavor, the job of updating my Basic Training Record to show that I obtained a Black Belt in MCMAP, began in May of 2012 (when I received my Black Belt NAVMC) and has finally ended on this day, of all days.
For whatever reason, constant turnover, your PCSing (I PCSed a total of 3 times [Summer Fun, TBS, First Duty Station] since I first filed this document over 1 year ago with IPAC), lost paperwork, inexperience, your Service Record Book may not be up to snuff.
The point is to keep good records for yourself (because the Marine Corps will not keep it for you) and to keep on the heels of the Marine that is supposed to be getting the work done. That might mean calling, emailing, or paying a personal visit.
There are some superstars in Admin. You may find that one NCO that just gets things done. But when she PCSes, which happened to me, the shop falls into disarray. In that case, it may be a good idea to go up the chain and make some friends. I always try to talk to the section head and ask if they need MY assistance in speeding along the process. That puts them on notice that (1) something needs to be done, and (2) you're not being an a**hole about it. If you need paperwork posted, keep at it and eventually someone will stop the buck and get it right . . . it might take a year though.
There comes a time in every Lieutenant's life when she finally reaches the "mythical" Fleet and begins to work (like an actual adult) after months and months of preliminary training. That time has come for me! I reported to my first duty station on April 1st and have been working in my Primary MOS as a 4402 since that time. It is such a relief to be done with school. And I think I'll be done with school for a long time until I get another itch to rack up more degrees (using my Post 9/11 Bill).
In my first few weeks here, I've formed some opinions, merely by scoping out the lay of the land and dealing with clients. For one, I've noticed how very small the Marine Corps is. Every day, I'm running into Marines I knew from Officer Candidate School (OCS), The Basic School (TBS) or Naval Justice School (NJS). All those experiences provide us with a common ground to build further camaraderie.
Next I learned there are so many resources available on base to learn a new skill. Our gym has a rock climbing wall in the middle of it; you can take an archery or car maintenance class if you want to; there's a job fair going on today for Marines that are about to EAS (end of active service). I'm using MarineNet to learn French and eventually take the DLPT (Defense Language Proficiency Test) for extra nontaxable income.
Finally, with the current market, I would caution you to ONLY buy a house in the area if you intend on returning to it after you are done with the Marine Corps. In this area, there are so many Marines who bought a house because their mortgage payment (with no money down) ended up being cheaper than paying for a rental. But they failed to think about the cost of ownership. With home ownership, all maintenance, association, and upkeep fees are theirs, with a rental, the landlord bears the burden. Additionally, once they PCS (permanent change of station) after 3 years (it is nearly inevitable), they inadvertently become landlords or decide they want to get rid of the house. But at this point, they are stuck because no one wants to buy it. I see at least a dozen "For Sale" or "For Rent" signs driving back home from work.
What are some insights you've picked up on from reporting to a new duty station?
Marines, just a reminder that daylight savings begins on Sunday. Make sure to switch over to your desert camis for work on Monday! Semper.
You and the Combat Order will become very familiar at TBS. In fact, you'll probably write over 30 combat orders in your 6 MISERABLE MONTHS in Quantico. Haha. All grouchiness aside, here is a really helpful Combat Orders Checklist that was passed down to me before I headed to the BOC (Basic Officer's Course). Use it to double-check that you've got everything you need . . . especially if you're the Marine holding the primary billet.
Note: If you print this double-sided, you can laminate it and bring it to the field with you! But soon enough, you won't need to because you'll have this stuff memorized.
As often requested, I will begin posting all the gouge collected from TBS (The Basic School) throughout the entire POI (period of instruction). The first place to start is at the very beginning . . . the 5 Horizontal Themes. You will, at some point, have to memorize these, even recite them for the Colonel, and possibly be rewarded with a challenge coin. These are the themes you will attempt to live out during your entire career as a Marine Corps officer.
A Marine officer who is:
- A man or woman of exemplary character
- Devoted to leading Marines 24/7
- Able to decide, communicate and act in the fog of war
- A Warfighter who embraces the Corps’ warrior ethos
- Mentally strong and physically tough
You will also need to memorize your "Oath of Office"--what you swore to at commissioning and the "Oath of Enlistment"--what your subordinates will have sworn to at their enlistments.
Oath of Office
I, ____________, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely; and without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter; So help me God.
Oath of Enlistment
I, ____________, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Memorizing these 3 very key passages is a great place to start. Strong!
Have you heard of the Servicemember's Civil Relief Act? If not, get ready to live!! Jk, jk. It's not THAT great, but it's pretty good. Along with giving you relief to break your lease if you deploy or PCS (permanently change your station), the SCRA offers great credit card benefits.
Here at Naval Justice School, we learn a lot of useless things about the law that don't really apply in the moment . . . the SCRA is a BLESSED exception.
Through invoking the rights provided by the SCRA, an ACTIVE DUTY member can notify all credit card companies of her status in the military and receive lower interest rates on her credit card (CapitalOne provides a 4% interest rate for credit cards AND car loans, while AMEX and VISA provide 0% interest), waived annual fees (I've eliminated almost $300 in annual fees with a simple phone call), NO LATE FEES, NO FEES on cash advances, and NO FEES on foreign currency transactions, among PLENTY of other advantages.
What does this mean? Well, for me, it means I STILL have to be responsible with my credit cards and payments, but it also means loads of FREQUENT FLYER MILES without paying a frequent flyer mile card fee! Which, in turn, translates to me seeing HOME a lot more often! Yippee!
All most credit card companies need is your date of commissioning, your EAS (end of active service) and your social security number to apply the savings. Most companies will even REFUND you the amount they charged you in fees while you were active duty--which is pretty amazing. Other companies will need a written letter or an email of relevant commissioning documents, plus a copy of your military ID, etc. It's not such a hassle when you think about all you'll be receiving. Let me know if you have any questions about how to do this!
And obviously, don't just take my word on it. Do some research on your own. You can also check out www.creditkarma.com for your free credit score!! Keep it above 740 AT ALL TIMES! And remember to be financially responsible with this awesome power you now wield! :D Semper!
TBS (The Basic School) is backwards day! Your staff intends for you to be frustrated. And you are meant to be stressed to the point of constantly and fruitlessly asking yourself, "WHY????" in the most exasperated tones. Just forget the "why" and do what everyone else is doing. That may not be the path to good leadership, but it's the way to graduation!
After all, TBS is a place where smart people are treated like they're stupid, where grown adults are treated like children, where things that make sense are abandoned in favor of the NONSENSICAL. It's maddening. Haha. Most importantly, it is ultimately a place where you are measured by your ability to conform to a "standard" that is arbitrarily ascribed to. (See how I did those annoying quotes!?) With that in mind, here are a few tips:
1. Don't even read your peer evals! They are meant to screw with you and they're filled with juvenile comments totally unrelated to being an officer!
2. Don't share how well you're doing. Marines are competitive. They want to know what everyone else got on the test in order to gauge their own abilities. Just respond that you did, "Okay" . . . for EVERYTHING.
3. Don't confide in your SPC. Sure, you should ask your SPC (Staff Platoon Commander) for help on tactical principles, but don't confide in your SPC about your struggles, hardships, or failings in the POI (period of instruction). Better yet, don't trust anyone on Camp Barrett with those things. TBS is a dog-eat-dog world . . . especially with hundreds of lieutenants competing for a specialty they will eventually have for the next 3 years! Anything you say just might end up as fodder for a review board to recycle you to another company.
Reading these may seem dreary, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that TBS is NOT the Marine Corps. The real Corps is actually heavy on the camaraderie, light on the backstabbing, more mentoring-based and less self-centered. You WILL get through it and become a good officer, not because of it, but despite it!!
I just checked into to Naval Justice School (NJS) in Newport, Rhode Island, where the weather for the next few weeks is always guaranteed to be below 0! Great! We have a "Pain before Breakfast" 5-mile run tomorrow morning which is said to be "voluntary." But really, if you don't go and freeze your buns off in an exercise of shared suffering, you will be mercilessly ridiculed. :P
Anyways, NJS is a 10-week course where we delve lightly into all aspects of military law including civil, criminal, and administrative. We'll be doing mock trials, client interviews, and administrative boards as we're competing for the top 20% of the class.
It's quite a change from TBS (The Basic School). We now live in a hotel--complete with a Keurig, free laundry, big screen TV, queen bed, and MAID SERVICE! And with New York, Boston, and Connecticut around, there'll be lots to see. This weekend, we're touring Breaker House (the Vanderbilt's summer home). It's free for active duty military so that'll be a treat! We should also be able to have enough time for PT (physical training) given the drastic change in our workload compared to our previous training enviro! I'm excited to get my body back in shape after it's been torn up from TBS (The Basic School).