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10 Days With the Sergeant Major - An Unparalleled Perspective

10 Days With the Sergeant Major - An Unparalleled Perspective

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Published by Dan Gaita
It seldom, if ever, occurs when a career Marine opens his home to the extended company of a common man and his family. But seldom does sometimes occur
It seldom, if ever, occurs when a career Marine opens his home to the extended company of a common man and his family. But seldom does sometimes occur

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Published by: Dan Gaita on Aug 27, 2013
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03/06/2014

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10 Days With The Sergeant Major
An Unparalleled Perspective
By Daniel R. Gaita
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the positionof any member of the armed forces, the United States Marine Corps,the Department of the Navy or theDepartment of Defense.
It seldom, if ever, occurs when a careerMarine opens his home to the extendedcompany of a common man and his family.But seldom does sometimes occur. This was not the typical two-hour V.I.P. basetour reserved for members of congress, ordistinguished nationals who seek a photoopportunity with our Nation’s highestranking enlisted Marines in hopes of garnering some added sense of self-importance. This was anything but.In 1993, he and I were young LanceCorporals (LCpl) preparing to deploy toSomalia in support of Operation RestoreHope. Fast-forward to 2013, and LCpl Brandon Eckardt hasaccumulated 23 years of service to the Corps, endured multipledeployment tours and earned the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj).When we were young LCpl’s our timetogether was spent in morningformations, PT runs, multiple fieldtraining operations and the occasionaloff-base period of recreation whereby hewould welcome those close to him to hisoff-base apartment where his highschool sweetheart and young bridewould offer up a true example of southern hospitality, friendship andsome much-appreciated homecooking.
 
 Today the SgtMaj remains married to his high school sweetheart whohas also endured his entire career, repeated deployments to thecombat theater, multiple relocations, and the entire gauntlet of emotions, fears, and hardships that come with being the loyal wife of aloyal Marine while raising a child. Through it all she maintains asteadfast and enduring understanding of the integral role her husbandplays in protecting our nation.Following an 11-hour road trip from CT to NC, my wife, children and Iwere welcomed, yet again, by the same hospitality in what hasbecome an annual reunion. The perspectives gained during this extended stay offered an eye-opening look at the life of a career Marine and his family. A perspectivethe media outlets are unfortunately missing.In this brief we will focus onhow the Marine Corpsapproaches family issues,accountability amongsttheir ranks and thechallenges it must endureas a result of sequestration,downsizing, andcongressionallyimplemented funding cuts.
Family –
 The Corps understands theimportance of family and the necessity of ensuring its Marines andtheir families are cared for during times of crisis, hardship and theunforeseen tragedies that some families endure. In short, if it canhappen, the Corps has a plan. Not only is there a plan in place for anyfamily emergency, but moreover, the plan implements accountabilityand oversight measures to ensure the effectiveness of each “FamilyCare Plan”. The Corps family care program also has in place a network of qualifiedprofessionals that handle mental health and counseling needs. But youwon’t hear about that on the major network news programs.
Accountability and Oversight –
Imagine your supervisor in the civilian world calling you into his officeto inform you that he was aware you had been given a summons for
 
driving without a seatbelt, or any other range of involvement with thelaw. Well, thanks to today’s technology, the Marine Corps leadership iscapable of “squaring away its ranks” the moment unit leadershipbecomes aware one of its members has violated the law. To ensure the continued readiness and effectiveness of the MarineCorps, individual and unit oversight is immediately available, andaccountability is fast,effective and direct. Perhapsthe same system should beimplemented at our Nationand State Capitals? I venturethe media has not talkedabout the effectiveness of this program either.
Sequestration andBudget Cuts –
While our elected members of congress go about approving their payraises, the Marine Corps is busy re-rationing its available dollars tomaintain its mission readiness and effectiveness while simultaneouslyhaving to forgo improvements that congress insists, to theirconstituent voters, have been approved and funded. Yet few of themembers on Capitol Hill can even comprehend how their politicalgamesmanship is impacting every level of the Corps.Rather then being able to focus on the evolution of the Marine Corps,and implementing its strategy for the future, the Commandant has tonow “figure it out”. Yes, the Corps is certainly equipped with the discipline to endure thedownsizing and budgetary cuts. They have a unique and distinct abilityto improvise, adapt and overcome adversity in all its forms. However,its greatest challenges should be on the battlefields across the globe,not with those entrusted to fund their mission.At a cost to the tax payer of only eight cents of each Department of Defense dollar, The Marine Corps remains the world’s most efficient,effective and disciplined global force of readiness.
References
HQMC DivPA. (2013, Aug 16)
Marine Corps Communication; Current News Playbook 

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