Photo by Frank Prager
Beth Bowles, Staff Sgt. Derek Myers of the Alton Marine Corps Recruiting Command and Marnie Stroud hosted an informational meeting March 28 at the Alton VFW covering support services available to family members of Marine recruits.
ALTON — Becoming a U.S. Marine is one of the most challenging achievements an individual can undertake.
The level of training, discipline and dedication required to graduate into the ranks of the Marine Corps is among the most demanding of any organization.
That effort affects not only recruits but their families as well. The long periods during training in which the recruit’s only contact with their family is written letters can be difficult for loved ones who are unfamiliar with the process.
Two local mothers of Marines have joined with the local Marine recruiting office and work as a parent volunteer organization to help other parents understand what happens once a recruit signs up.
Beth Bowles’ son Tanner Miles entered Marine Corps training last October. Marnie Stroud’s three sons, Tim, Tom and Trenton Gallion, are in the Marines. Her daughter Melissa is preparing to enlist.
The women have teamed with Staff Sgt. Derek Myers of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command in Alton to provide information and assistance to other parents and relatives of recruits.
An informational meeting was hosted at the Alton VFW on Monday evening, March 28. Approximately 25 attendees received information about Marine Corps training, travel to Marine Corps graduation and specifics about attending the event itself. Bowles notes she will be following up one-on-one to help with individual situations.
“It often helps people just to have someone they can talk to,” she said.
“Family members have a lot of questions they don’t know where to go to get answers to,” Stroud said. “Can we send the recruits things when they are in training? Can we call them? What happens if they get sick? How do we contact them in an emergency?
“The information breaks down barriers,” Bowles explained. “It makes the knowledge and experiences of other parents who have been through the process available to others.”
Bowles, Miles and Myers work with family members to assist them in using www.marineparents.com. The website connects family members and allows them to share information and support one another through activities and networking.
Marine recruits enlist by entering a Delayed Entry Program (DLP).
“We want to make sure the Marine Corps is the right choice for the enlistee,” Myers said. “The DLP is a period from 30 days up to a year where we verify the recruit’s commitment is real.”
Enlistees have to pass minimum physical and academic standards in order to enter training camp. Designated as “poolees” during this period, they are identified as “recruits” once they enter boot camp and are considered “Marines” when they graduate successfully from the demanding 12-week training curriculum.
“The Marine Corps bond is phenomenal,” Bowles said.
She said parents of local recruits are always more than willing to help those who have not been through the experience. She points out there are many resources and support groups and that all of the assistance is free.
A meeting for all Marine Corps members, new and old, along with their families will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at a location to be determined. Bowles said it will be a chance for people to just get to know each other and share questions and experiences.
Parents and family members interested in getting more information can contact Beth Bowles directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also can get in touch with Marnie Stroud at email@example.com. Myer can be contacted by calling (314) 258-0170 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.