Feature   Defense News

COVID-19 Changes Daily Life of Marines

April 27, 2020 | BY MARINE CORPS LANCE CPL. BRENNAN BEAUTON

The daily lives of U.S. Marines have drastically changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. Marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, have implemented teleworking as a way to practice social distancing and combat the spread of the virus.

The work, social and home lives of Marines living in the barracks deviates from life before the pandemic. Marines assigned to the distribution management office, DMO, on Camp Foster, Okinawa, have a unique and difficult task to perform during this time.

DMO Marines are tasked with booking flights for temporary assignments and permanent-change-of-station orders, as well as moving all of a Marine's personal property to the new location. With the Defense Department's travel ban, DMO Marines are teleworking to help successfully move Marines and sailors to and from the island.

A Marine talks to her mother on speaker phone.
Phone Call
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Amanda Martinez, a personal property clerk at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, calls her mother from Camp Foster, Okinawa, April 27, 2020. Martinez, a native of Santa Fe, Mexico, deals with Marines’ personal property when they change duty stations.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton
VIRIN: 200427-M-VV856-1231M
A Marine teleworks from her laptop while sitting at her desk.
Telework
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Amanda Martinez, a personal property clerk at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, teleworks on her laptop from Camp Foster, Okinawa, April 27, 2020. Martinez, a native from Santa Fe, Mexico, deals with Marines’ personal property when they change duty stations.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton
VIRIN: 200427-M-VV856-1196M

Communication is the most challenging aspect of teleworking during the outbreak, said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Amanda Martinez, a personal property clerk at Marine Corps Base Camp Butler on Okinawa.

"We are used to face-to-face interactions, but we are having to call and email members, and they're teleworking as well," Martinez said. "It has been taking a little bit longer as far as documents being signed and information being sent back and forth."

While teleworking is an effective way to combat the spread of the virus, it hinders the DMO to operate at its full potential.

"Half of our staff is in office, and half of the staff is teleworking at the barracks. So, we're trying out a bunch of things to figure out the best way to communicate with our members and our team to make mission," said Marine Corps Cpl. Ricardo Casarez, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the passenger travel office at Camp Butler. "Regardless, we continue to work as a team in order to adapt and overcome COVID-19."

A Marine hangs up his uniform.
Marine Gear
Marine Corps Cpl. Ricardo Casarez, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the passenger travel office at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, hangs up his uniform in his barracks at Camp Foster, Okinawa, April 27, 2020. Casarez coordinates flights for Marines when they change duty stations or go on a temporary duty assignment.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton
VIRIN: 200427-M-VV856-1108M

Not only have their jobs been affected, but so have their daily duties as Marines and the uniforms they wear.

"We are now required to wear masks. It's become a part of our everyday carries for us, and we are required to maintain social distancing, which are both not part of our daily routines, but it has become a norm for Marines," Casarez said.

Even the Marines' physical training schedule has been altered, but it does not stop them from working out however they can.

"We used to PT every day, now it's all on yourself to maintain your physical fitness," Martinez said. "It is kind of hard because of the gyms being closed, but a lot of us are just running every day, and do what we can with what we have. We are just adapting and overcoming to still be ready to fight if we have a calling."

A Marine opens a barracks room door to check up on one of his Marines.
Marine Check
Marine Corps Cpl. Ricardo Casarez, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the passenger travel office at Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, checks up on one of his Marines at Camp Foster, Okinawa, April 27, 2020. Casarez, a native of Montclaire, Calif., coordinates flights for Marines when they change duty stations or go on a temporary duty assignment.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton
VIRIN: 200427-M-VV856-1055M

The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force announced Health Protection Condition Charlie Plus, which prohibits off-base liberty. However, the Marines still see a bright side during these difficult times.

"Due to COVID-19, Marines [are not] able to execute liberty off-base and enjoy the island," Casarez said. "I think it's brought camaraderie within units. It has definitely brought that feeling of being close for us. I believe it has made us more united than we have ever been."

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton is assigned to Marine Corps Installations Pacific.)