U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman
Here’s a familiar scenario for most enlisted Marines: You’re walking along when you see an older Marine barreling toward you with an immaculate eight-point and a shit-ton of black stripes and rockers on his collar. As you get ready to greet the fast-approaching staff NCO, you realize you can’t read his rank. The black chevrons have perfect concealment among the foliage of his woodland MARPAT uniform. He’s 15 feet away, then 10, then five. Oh shit, is he a first sergeant, no a gunny, no a master serg— Too late, so you spit out the first words that come to mind: “Good morning first sergeant.” Phew, nailed it.
As a Marine vet, I love the Corps and I tend to focus on the positives aspects of service. While I was on active duty from 2002–2008, I never talked about harassment and assault nor spent much time contemplating the severity of the problems. The result is guilt I still carry today. My last active-duty billet was at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. At 4th Recruit Training Battalion, I was responsible for the training and welfare of women who had just joined the Corps and were attempting to complete boot camp. I spent countless hours offering squad bay classes to my recruits, often taking triple the planned time to talk about important topics like educational benefits and goal setting. I was committed to connecting with them and mentoring where I saw opportunity. Some I heard from once they graduated boot camp, which was often wholly positive, but, in truth, far too many shared stories of harassment and assault that they’d experienced at their new schools and units. I had never talked about it with them in those squad bays.
Medal of Honor recipient Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter paid a visit to the Pentagon today to visit Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green, the highest ranking enlisted Marine and a senior advisor to the commandant of the Marine Corps.