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Demands on the Family


>> KELLEY SHAW: I think having a Marine is a challenge to a family because you know that they're potentially going to be in harm's way. It's a mix of fear and a mix of pride. >> RITA STIGALL: But you have to understand that they're there to do a job, and you have to trust that they're equipped to do the best job that they can. And they're going to get it done, and they're going to come home. >> STEVE TALLENT: I did take comfort in at least knowing that Cody was not going to suffer from lack of being taught. He wasn't going to be--he wasn't going to suffer from a lack of direction, okay, because that's what these guys do. They--they provide this incredible, intense direction. >> LAURA SCHOOLCRAFT: When Doug enlisted, it's like we all enlisted right along with him. And I made sure that I was very informed about what he was going through. I tried to connect and encourage other parents as well. >> JULIE SIMON: Once he actually deployed, I realized that, for me, knowledge, being engaged is just much more therapeutic for me personally. 00:01:03:10 >> LAURA SCHOOLCRAFT: I do believe I have come out of this whole experience more educated, more aware of the emotions or the experiences that other families go through. >> KELLEY SHAW: When they form a bond with another person, somehow you form one just because that's your child, and you love your child. And I think that the things that they go through are all so common. It does, it binds us all together. We have a connection because we raised our sons, and they're all Marines, and they take care of each other. So we feel that we have to kind of take care of each other a little bit too. >> ALOMA HARRIS: We had parents from the area come, and we just talked about our concerns, questions. And the Marine Corps has been good about answering those questions. >> PATRICK HARRIS: They really encourage other parents to talk with one another. >> PATRICIA PURDY: You start to make a connection. As--and as time has gone on, now I meet with a bunch of moms, other moms, 00:02:03:10 and we get together for lunch once a month. Next Sunday, we're going. And it's great. We are like one big family. >> LUIS CASTRO: What we do as parents is we support our kids. We've visited with them on base. We've visited with them overseas. I don't see where that's a demand on my time. I think it's a privilege of mine. >> HERMAN WALLACE: We have tried to encourage her to be the best she can. And so far we haven't had any regret. >> KELLEY SHAW: I think I keep it in focus the person that he's become because of being a Marine and the confidence he's gained and the fact that he's happy with what he's doing. He's happier than I've ever seen him. 00:02:48:10

In order to support the decision to serve, you and your family must consider the realities of life as a Marine: selfless service, the potential to see combat, and time away from home, in addition to the many benefits of Marine Corps service.

First and foremost, your son or daughter is making a decision to serve selflessly and will put the well-being of fellow Marines before his or her own in order to defend and protect our way of life. In addition, the “every Marine a rifleman” philosophy demands that all Marines are trained and prepared for combat, no matter what field they work in to support the mission. There is no such thing as a Marine who “only works with computers.” If the country and Corps need non-combat personnel to serve in a combat role, your Marine will be assigned to one – and will be prepared to succeed in it.

In total, becoming an enlisted Marine is at least a 3-, 4-, or 5-year commitment, depending on the enlistment program. During Marine Recruit Training your recruit will be away from home for a total of 13 weeks, including processing and graduation. After Recruit Training graduation, he or she will be granted 10 days’ leave (the military term for vacation) to return home before shipping to Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) Training (MOS is the term for a Marine's job). After MOS Training, your Marine may be away on assignment for periods lasting up to 24 months each. He or she will receive 30 days’ leave per year to use as they choose.

In total, becoming a Marine Officer is at least a 4-to-6-year commitment. Officer Candidates School, the equivalent of enlisted Recruit Training, will take place in 1-2 summers during or after college. You must be prepared not to have your officer candidate at home during this time. Upon completion of Officer Candidates School and then The Basic School (TBS), he or she will attend MOS Training, which can last for many weeks or months. Officer duty assignments generally last 24 to 36 months. Your officer will likely complete one to two of these assignments to fulfill their commitment to the Marine Corps. He or she will receive 30 days’ leave per year to use as they choose.

The amount of contact you will have with your son or daughter will vary throughout their experience. Contact during Recruit Training is intentionally limited, to allow recruits to focus. At the beginning of Recruit Training, you will receive an initial phone call. This is a short, scripted call to let you know he has arrived safely. You will be in touch only through handwritten letters until graduation, which we encourage you to attend. Graduation weekend includes family time and activities scheduled for you and your new Marine. After graduation, Marines can call, email, text and otherwise stay in touch on their free time. Officer Candidates are granted liberty from Officer Candidates School on weekends after the fourth week of training. During MOS training and deployment, Marines have various levels of contact with their family, depending on their assignment. Many have the ability to email or call from where they are stationed.

Many recruit and Marine family members find support and friendship in other Marine moms and dads whose sons and daughters are also away. This is the benefit of belonging to the Marine family. Some meet as they drop their sons off at the bus to Recruit Training. Others meet through online Marine Parent forums and groups. And many meet at official Marine Corps functions and events in their area. See Supporting Your Family for more detail. Also, the Marine Corps may assign a Family Readiness Officer to a unit to connect with families if there is a need. Your local recruiter can be another great resource for your family during this time. See The Recruiter’s Role for more detail.

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Comments (11)

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kyla uribe Avatar


Due you support waivers for a parent interested in becoming a Marine? 28yrs old, wanting to make a serious change in her life. Has there been cases where a single parent has been granted?

Thanks. Looking forward to a response.

Posted by: kyla uribe on 08/30/2010




Community Manager Avatar


Kyla - To contact a Recruiter about information on waivers and other steps to becoming a Marine, please fill out the RMI form on

Posted by: Community Manager on 09/13/2010




Chris Norrell Avatar


how do i know where to send a letter to son while attending Marine Recruit Training?

Posted by: Chris Norrell on 09/22/2010




Brandon Farnsworth Avatar


you send it to his BT commanding center where he is to get his mail to him

Posted by: Brandon Farnsworth on 05/22/2012




Community Manager Avatar


Chris - The first letter that you will receive from your son at recruit training will be a form letter that will provide his mailing address. This generally arrives approximately 2 weeks after arrival at the recruit depot.

Posted by: Community Manager on 09/23/2010




Denzel Crowley Avatar


I am getting married and I wanted to know, after my basic training will my wife will be able to live with me? If so what should I do before basic training to make sure we have a place to stay?

Posted by: Denzel Crowley on 04/01/2011




chessy dumont Avatar


My son went to Parris Island SC Aug 18th. Miss him so much. He had just graduated from high school in July. His 19th B'day is Oct 8 and will not be spending it with me as well as mine is Oct 15th and his only nephew who will be 2 Oct 6th. I know this is what he has always wanted but I'm having a hard time. I never smile anymore and just can't wait till Nov 16th His grad day. Need to learn milatery termanology. Any advice?

Posted by: chessy dumont on 10/01/2012




Teresa Cozzi Avatar


Hi, my son also graduated Parris Island Nov. 16th. Did your son leave from Tampa airport Nov 27th? I met some parents and lost their contact info and was wondering if you were one of them. I am a single parent and it would be nice to have another parent to talk to. Teresa

Posted by: Teresa Cozzi on 12/03/2012




Michele Whaling Avatar


My son left for Parris Island on August 28. Last Thursday he turned 19, that was hard. How I wish I had found this site sooner! Mason will graduate the 21st of November the day before Thanksgiving. Words cannot not express the proud his dad and I feel for his commitment to serve this great country. Mason has wanted this since he was 5 years old, how wonderful to know since age 5 that you wanted to serve and to live your dream! This hasn't been easy, but knowing he is fulfilling his dream makes it a little easier.A week from tomorrow I will be squeezing the stuffing out of our boy!

Posted by: Michele Whaling on 11/12/2012




Tommy Walters Avatar


Just received this today,and will use in my blog (Tommy the Gunny's Blog) for today. Glad someone sent this to me. I look forward to using this site a lot!

Posted by: Tommy Walters on 01/11/2013




Curtis Adams Avatar

Former Marine

I am a former Marine and disabled veteran. If anyone wants any questions about the Marine Corps answered personally I would be happy to answer them. My time as a full-time Marine was an experience I cherish greatly. Hopefully I can make some parents relax a little and understand more about what it's like in the Marine Corps.

Posted by: Curtis Adams on 02/09/2013