Parris Island Recruits, Trainers Have Family Support Programs
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2004 Marines have families, too, and family programs are in place for both recruits and training cadre at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C.
For example, the Red Cross typically notifies base authorities when a member of a recruit's family has died or other type of family emergency, noted Capt. Jamie R. Nott, Parris Island's deputy public affairs officer.
"We'll have a chaplain deliver that message to the recruit," Nott explained, "and then the chaplain and the recruit training regiment work to get that recruit wherever they need to go" to attend the funeral.
Twelve consecutive weeks of boot camp, Nott noted, are designed to challenge recruits seeking to become Marines. The intense training regimen, he added, can also put strain on drill instructors and their families.
In recognition that the drill instructors and other training cadre at Parris Island have extremely demanding jobs, there are numerous family-support programs available, including officer and enlisted spouses' networks, the captain said.
Such organizations "are helpful, and they give the wives and spouses a way to connect," Nott said, noting Parris Island drill instructors "are out here working 100 to 140 hours a week."
In fact, Staff Sgt. Matthew M. James said, he and his fellow drill instructors spend more time with recruits than they do with their families during a training cycle.
Drill instructors, James said, routinely use teamwork to fill in for an instructor who must address immediate family concerns. It's also important for spouses of drill instructors to support each other and be knowledgeable of other available family-support programs, he said.
Compared to the recruits' daily regimen, James noted, drill instructors perform their jobs "with less sleep, less food, and still not seeing our families, as much as we'd like to."
James said he tells discouraged recruits that if the drill instructors didn't want the recruits to succeed, "then we wouldn't be here."