MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY Ga. -- Aladdin had a genie.
King Arthur had a wizard.
Marines have career planners.
They may not be able to tell the future or grant any wish upon request, but career planners hold answers to questions that can greatly affect a Marines future.
At least, thats the way Gunnery Sgt. Darrell L. Stillings, current base property operations chief and former career planner, explained it. And Stillings would know, because he was just named Marine Corps Career Planner of the Year 2000.
The career planner, in my opinion, said Stillings, is the guy that, if he doesnt know the answer, then he will tell you where to go get it.
The Tampa, Fla., native started his tour as Headquarters Bn. career planner in May of 1997. After attending school in Quantico, Va., Stillings came to Albany for a brief time before he was shipped overseas to be the career planner for 3rd Marine Division and then the Combat Assault Battalion. He returned to Albany a year later.
According to Stillings, it takes an extremely professional Marine to be a career planner.
I think we really have a good force of career planners in the Marine Corps now, he said. I dont feel the Marine Corps has the retention problem that some of the other branches have, but its best to look at it before it becomes a big problem.
September marked the end of a three-year assignment as a career planner for Stillings, who has been a Marine for a little more than 16 years.
I couldnt personally go out and wave a magic wand and make all the Marines reenlist, said Stillings. It was up to the leadership in each section.
I had staff NCOs, officers and NCOs who provided that environment that makes a Marine want to stay a Marine, he said. They gave me the leeway to work in an effective environment.
According to Stillings, being a career planner is just like any other job in the Corps its all about attitude and effort. What an individual puts in is what he gets out.
The Corps is the place to excel, he explained. Because Marines are a cut above the rest, if a Marine does better than average, he is exceptional and that will take him far.
Stillings practiced this philosophy, but that doesnt mean that it was all easy for him.
According to Stillings, it is difficult to deal with a Marine who has spent three or four years in the Corps and doesnt want to stay in, yet does not have a plan for getting out.
Stillings said he believes the best time to start planning for the future is now.
The sooner you try to make a plan, said Stillings, the more likely it is that youll execute the plan and achieve your goal whatever your goal may be.
Stillings explained that each case is handled on an individual basis. Each person has to weigh the options before him to determine which goals will be the most practical and beneficial to him.
Though the main focus of a career planner is retention, Stillings understood that not everyone will stay in the Corps.
Not everybody is made to be a Marine for life. If you do four years and get out, the Marine Corps is thankful for that.
Out of 20,000 25,000 Marines who come in annually, four or five thousand will stay to be career Marines, he said. We couldnt keep all the first termers if we wanted to we dont have space for them.
On the other hand, Stillings gave a word to the wise for those who decide to make the Marine Corps their career.
If you want to stay in the Marine Corps, then you need to start being competitive. To be whatever it is you want to be, you have to have that edge, he concluded.
Stillings is married to the former Shauna Campbell of Kingston, Jamaca. They have three children, Darrell Jr., 10, Vanessa, 8, and Alyssa, 3.