After years of active service, some first-term Marines will grow long hair, grow beards or pack on pounds. What they don’t realize is that their military service is not complete.
After active service has ended, those who still have obligated service become part of the Individual Ready Reserve. Marines in the IRR are entitled to job opportunities and access to the exchange, commissary and Marine Corps Community Services benefits.
They must also maintain uniforms, meet physical standards and remain up-to-date administratively with the Marine Corps during this time.
While a part of the IRR, Marines fall under the Marine Corps Mobilization Command, a component of Marine Forces Reserve. The IRR comprises more than 18 percent of the Marine Corps’ total force and is considered an operational asset.
Whether Marines stay in for four years or 44 years, they’re Marines until the day they die, said Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly, commanding general of Marine Forces Reserve and U.S. Marine Forces Northern Command, in a reserve opportunities video. A lot of pressures in Marines’ lives will cause them to go off of active duty after their initial time in service. In some cases, people have different goals they want to accomplish. The good thing about being associated with the IRR is that you can pursue these goals while still staying connected to your Marine Corps roots.
Marines in the IRR have to keep the Corps updated with their current address, phone number, dependent and marital status, civilian employment information and changes in health status. They must maintain the serviceability of their military identification card, all uniforms, service record book and medical and dental records. Marine Online and MyPay accounts should also remain updated.
Additionally, IRR Marines are required to attend a yearly administrative screening. Marines will receive notifications for these screenings by mail. Those who attend will be compensated for their time. In 2010, all Marines who attended the musters received $205. If Marines require exemptions, they must call MOBCOM to begin the excusal process.
IRR Marines may be recalled back into active duty service. Failure to respond to the activation, or meet other IRR obligations, could result in an Other than Honorable discharge. The Marine could also lose some veterans benefits.
Dodging activation has an ill effect on the Marine Corps because the person that does fill the (unfilled) billet may not be as qualified as the person who was originally chosen, said Sgt. Thomas R. Regan, career planner for Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.
In the past 10 years, thousands of Marines have been activated to billets where needed. In 2006, then President George W. Bush authorized the Corps to activate up to 2,500 Marines from the IRR.
Marines may qualify for exemption from activation after routing the request through the Delay, Deferment and Exemption Board. A Marine authorized a delay is granted a five-month delay to pack and prepare.
Deferment is when a Marine is unable to accept orders at that moment but is able to in the future, for example when expecting a child or in a four-year education program.
An exemption is a cancelation of orders due to personal or family hardships, employment as a law enforcer, key employee, company owner or when a part of a family business. Overweight Marines do not qualify for an exemption because IRR personnel are required to meet height and weight standards.
Programs through the IRR include uniformed job opportunities.
These programs include reserve counterpart training, which allows Marines to stay proficient in their jobs and train with a command for a maximum of 28 days per fiscal year at several locations worldwide, said Gunnery Sgt. Robert D. Noyes, the reserve transition coordinator, with Marine Corps Individual Reserve Support Organization, based in New Orleans. Noyes is administratively attached to Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.
With active duty operational support, Marines receive short-term active duty orders aimed at accomplishing projects with an active or reserve command.
There are many other options available to those in the IRR.
Due to the (quantity) of programs offered by the reserves, they are able to offer active duty Marine Corps opportunities to almost every prior service Marine no matter what their current situation, said Regan.
To learn about additional programs available for those in the IRR, contact a career planner.
By Cpl. Justin R. Wheeler