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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Single Marine Program: improving quality of life

By Jason M. Webb | | May 21, 2009

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Volunteerism though text message was unheard of a few years ago, but thanks to forward thinking and digital technology, volunteering to clean up the neighborhood, spending time with a group of disabled veterans or the elderly is as easy as two thumbs and a mobile phone. 

Called the volunteer tracking tool, it will enable Single Marine Program members to accept an opportunity to give back to the community with the ease of a text message or e-mail.

This concept was embraced and encouraged by Headquarters Marine Corps at the 2009 Single Marine Program Annual conference in Orlando, Fla., April 28-May 1.

It was only one of many new ideas that came from the conference that coordinated SMP council members and senior Marine leadership to focus and enhance the morale and well being of single and unaccompanied Marines by identifying quality of life issues and concerns.

Sergeant Maj. Scott Mykoo, sergeant major, Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany, Ga., was one of those attendees at the conference, and he said that the SMP is not simply about taking trips and quality of life.  “It’s all about readiness.  It’s about keeping Marines prepared and to be a war fighter.”

Part of that readiness taught at the conference is the overall health and well being of a Marine.  Programs like the SMP focus on all aspects of the Marine’s life.

Divided into five program components, attendees were taught that education and other valuable opportunities enhance morale and lead to improved readiness. The objective was to arm Marines with knowledge and skills necessary to proactively deal with situations before they develop into serious problems. Unaddressed problems negatively impact the mission readiness of individual Marines, commands and the Marine Corps family.

The conference taught that the opportunity of balanced personal and professional growth for single Marines incorporates community involvement, career progression through leadership training and military education, health and wellness, life skills such as financial planning and personal development seminars and recreational activities.

“Generally speaking, most that I have spoken with don’t realize that this is not just planning day trips to get out of the barracks.  While this is part of it, the program also has an invested interest in the services here on base,” said Staff Sgt. Ignatius J. Keogh, drum major, Albany Marine Band, and newly elected president of the SMP. “We provide a channel to identify quality of life concerns, as well as recommendations for improvement.”

One of the key components of the SMP is the ability to collectively input quality of life issues to the senior leadership through the council of elected members and discuss improvements in everyday life.

“This program is important to the commandant, and it’s important to him that they get the single Marines to understand that their quality of life is important,” said Mykoo, who added that this issue was so important that the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps took time out of his busy schedule to personally attend the conference.

Part of that quality of life is having ownership and the ability to change life around them.  Keogh said that in the last meeting, members initiated adding barbeque pits and gazebos in the barracks area.  Additionally, they plan on adding a calendar of events on the Marine Corps Community website.  Headquarters Marine Corps is in process of rewriting the Marine Corps Family Team Building order along with the Family Readiness Officer. Initial planning will have the FRO being involved with the SMP; thus making the members of the SMP part of the family component. 

“In the long run, this program is limited only by our imagination and innovation.  My goal is to empower the members of this program,” Keogh said.  “Whether it’s planning, volunteer opportunities, or improving the living conditions locally, the program is designed to help facilitate developing initiatives that directly or indirectly influence morale and personal growth.”

For more information about the SMP call (229) 639-7724.

     


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