The Marine Corps Educators Workshop is one of those lifetime experiences that if given the opportunity to attend, you simply must do it!
Sometimes we say words just because they are a normal part of our vocabulary and roll easily off our tongues; like we are reciting a script. Family is one of those words.
All of us have a family of some sort and for many it brings a lot of bad memories. During my time at the Marine Corps Educators Workshop, the same word came up in a multiple interviews and discussions. That word was family.
I always knew it took a well-oiled machine to run our military, however, I never imagined the love the Marines have for not only our country but each other. For some though, it is a word that brings positive memories, a sense of belonging, a sense of being loved, and a sense of being protected. During my time at the Educators Workshop, I was able to learn about a family unit that has no blood ties, and that does not see gender, and that does not see race or religion. They see everyone for who they are.
The family unit I am talking about is the Marine Corps.
As a Mom of two daughters, I must admit that I never wanted either of them to enlist in the military. I do not know if it was because they are girls or the misinformation that I had heard over my lifetime about females being enlisted. It’s not that I grew up in a non-military family either. I come from a very long line of service members. Two of my Uncles were in the Army and fought in the Korean War. Two of my Uncles were in the Navy and one of them fought in Vietnam. I have several cousins who have served in each branch of the military as well. My husband was even in the military before I met him. It is just as a Mom I felt that I did not want my daughters to be involved with the military.
Our oldest is in high school and is starting to think about her future. My husband has talked to her about the military, but I was always right there telling her no, it is not for you, find the college you want to visit, and we will make those happen. I was adamant it was not going to happen.
Many people have asked me why I would even want to attend the Educators Workshop. Especially since I had already set in my mind that my girls would never be in the military if I could help it. I wanted to attend for many reasons.
One reason I wanted to attend was because of the high admiration I have for our military and for those who have served and are currently serving. What they do to protect our country is something that I can never ever begin to repay them for. Another reason I wanted to go is because due to the fact I only have one eye, I knew I could never even conceive joining any branch, so I never looked any farther into it. I also wanted to attend because I wanted to see what my girls would experience if they joined one of the branches. I needed to see where they would stay, eat, sleep, and who would become their family so to speak as they went from being a recruit to a Marine.
You can read about my experience at the Educators Workshop here.
During my week at the Educators Workshop, from our first day to our last, we saw the beginning of their training to graduation. We were able to get a taste of what all the new recruits went through from the moment they arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. We were able to meet and interview several career Marines (both male and female), we were able to have lunch with Marines from our state who would soon be graduating, and we were able to see the amazing Family unit in action.
As a parent, our goal is to protect at our children at all costs. Once they fly the nest after graduation, our fear is magnified. Not only will we not be there for them, especially if they are at college, but we will not be there for them to fall back on when they fall. I have often thought the best thing for my kids would be to live at home and go to a local college. That way they can come each day and they will still be under our roof and my wing. That is exactly what I did. Once I graduated, I started college at a local campus and just lived at home. I was still under my parents’ roof until I got married after I graduated from college.
After talking to one of the recruiters during our trip, reflecting on everything I saw first hand and heard throughout the week, I realized how big of a mistake it would be to try to force that on my own kids. Granted if that is what they want to do, that is fine. But by not allowing them to learn how to take care of themselves or letting them fly the coop is worse for them.
Throughout the week, after talking to several of the career Marines, I concluded that the protection, the family, the support that I want my kids to have after graduation was waiting for them, if they decided the military was the path they wanted to take.
As I have been reflecting on the week with the Marine Corps, I realized how fantastic of an opportunity attending the Educators Workshop was. Attending the workshop was a once in a lifetime event. I not only had my own eyes opened to how terrific the Marine Corps is, I also realized how fantastic of an opportunity it is for my kids. Now when I am asked if the experience changed my mind, I say yes it did. And that I would encourage my kids to go that route. I can honestly say now, that without a doubt, it would truly be an honor if one or both of my daughters would choose to become a Marine!
I had the opportunity to attend this workshop with 30 of the finest Educators from the State of Indiana. Throughout the week I talked to them about their experiences and how they felt at the end of the week.
Here are some of their thoughts throughout regarding their experience at the Marine Corps Educators Workshop.
"The workshop opens your eyes to a broader range of students who go into the Marines and also shows that several Marines go into college or in the job world before they enlist", according to Ryan Vermillion, Head of Guidance & Football Coach at Marion High School. When asked what he would say to future attendees, Ryan stated, "You don't need to be apprehensive about anything. It's an awesome experience and if you can go, do it."
Sue Simmons, Angola High School Business Teacher, FIST Guide (youth philanthropic group), Business owner, 4 children, and Ball State Graduate replied when asked what she planned to incorporate in her classroom that, "I am now going to talk more about the military, especially the Marines to students when they are not sure for post secondary plans. Without the prior knowledge, I did not feel comfortable giving advice." Also when asked what she would say to future attendees, Sue stated, "They need to participate in the activities, not just watch. You do not get the entire experience. If you are going to attend this you need to be able to participate! It is such a great experience!"
Another educator that I had gotten to know throughout the week felt that, "I would tell a future attendee to pack light, take notes every night and be prepared to learn things you didn't know you needed to learn." They also felt that, " I've worked in the school system for 18 years. In my current role as guidance secretary it is part of my job to gather as much information about all of the opportunities out there for our students . I give this information to the counselors so they may better assist the students in planning their future."
Travis Heavin, Principal of Angola High School was another one of the educators on this trip. I asked him how he felt the workshop changed him and he replied, " I have better understanding about the Marines and a higher appreciation for their training." And when asked what he would tell future attendees thinking about attending the workshop, his answer was simply, "Do as much as you can while you are there. It is an awesome experience."