MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The civilian workforce plays a vital role in the U.S. Marine Corps remaining a “force in readiness.” Civilians who work in and for a military installation contribute unique talents and expertise, which support the mission of the base. Working closely with their Marine counterparts, civilians have an opportunity to earn, or rather “learn,” the title of “Civilian Marine.”
In 1999, Gen. Charles Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, coined the term “Civilian Marine,” as he emphasized the roles civilians play in achieving the nation’s missions. Civilians can choose from hundreds of companies and organizations to work for; a select few choose to work for the U.S. Marine Corps.
In December 2007, led by retired U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Ronald S. Coleman, former deputy commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Headquarters, the Acculturation Program was created to bridge the communication gap between Marines and civilian employees. It has since been encouraged that all new and onboarding civilians take the course which emphasizes Marine Corps history, terminology, culture, and branch organization.
“Simply, the whole purpose and intent of the Marine Corps Acculturation Program is to educate the civilian workforce on all matters pertaining to the Marine Corps,” said Jamie Deets, branch head, Marine Corps Civilian Leadership Development, a former civilian workforce manager and MCAP lead instructor.
“We focus on all factors that are relevant to what makes the Marine Corps what it is, and better give new [civilian] employees an understanding of how their duties support the Marines,” said Deets.
After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps in early 2015 and having served in many billets and roles, Deets was drawn to continue his service to the Marine Corps. He joined the civilian sector at Marine Corps Base Quantico in late 2015 and became the lead instructor of the MCAP course from 2015-2019.
Marines are taught to leave every space better than they found it. With that engraved in Deets’ mind, he was compelled to enforce and better the MCAP curriculum. Deets introduced a new learning module - the official introduction of drill instructors to course attendees. The purpose was to recreate the first meeting between drill instructors and their class.
“It was an amazing part to see. Any one of them that had never been a Marine found that experience to be truly motivating and gave them a better understanding of where the journey begins for young Marines,” said Deets. “The intent was to give the civilians as much of an introduction as possible, so they felt truly connected to the Marine Corps.”
Marine Corps history includes a long lineage of significant moments which serve as an immeasurable source of inspiration for Marines. It is the goal of MCAP to share enough of this history with civilians so they may understand the Marines’ mentality to defend and honor.
“When I was hired to this position, part of my duties was to instruct the MCAP,” said Matthew Manieri, civilian workforce manager, Civilian Manpower Branch Quantico. “I feel it is my calling since I attended it almost eight years ago. It's kind of a full circle for me after serving 30 years as a Marine and now being able to serve Civilians,” he said.
Manieri, now retired from the Marine Corps, continues to serve as a Civilian Marine and the lead instructor for MCAP since 2019. Through his experiences on both sides of the coin, he understands what civilians go through when entering a military work environment.
Even though Manieri served in the Marine Corps, he sought out the course when he entered the civilian sector.
“I took the course because I was curious about what was taught and what else I could learn,” said Manieri.
Course attendees can expect the curriculum to include a review of U.S. Marine Corps history, mission and base organization, customs and courtesies, and resources and tools that civilians may need as they begin their new careers on base. Regardless of prior service, all new civilian hires on a Marine Corps base are encouraged to attend the course, except for government contractors.
The two-day course is broken up into five learning modules and includes a much-anticipated tour of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The close proximity of the museum allows civilians to explore Marine Corps exhibits from inception to present day.
“Many retired Marines who take the course have walked away pleased to have refreshed old knowledge, and taken a stroll down memory lane,” said Deets. “It is a great asset when Marine Corps veterans take the course and can field questions during class breaks and interact with fellow students.”
Many of the students similarly struggled with understanding the shorthand and acronym-filled conversations of Marines in the workplace. They were eager to learn and understand commonly used military terminology.
“Marines benefit when the civilians understand the shared mission,” said Manieri. “It really sends a good signal of one team, one fight.”
Manieri emphasized the importance of civilian employees understanding Marines and the way they speak, think, and act.
“Communication gaps happen for several reasons,” said Malaika Western, training and curriculum specialist, Behavioral Programs, Marine and Family Division, Headquarters Marine Corps. “This course helps to bridge some of those gaps by helping civilians understand the language, experiences, and mission of the U.S. Marine Corps,” she continued.
Western was one of 17 civilians from across the base who attended the MCAP course held at The Clubs at Quantico, Sept. 8. She is involved in many of Quantico’s behavioral health programs and works with and for Marines every day.
Many branches of the civilian workforce on MCB Quantico were represented in the course. Representatives from Marine Corps Community Services, the Family Housing Branch, Training and Education Command and many more pockets of Quantico were in attendance.
“The most useful takeaway from this course is when Civilian Marines share a common vision and strive for the same core values of the Marine Corps of honor, courage, and commitment,” said Western.
Every base is unique in location and historical content available to share with the civilians. Not every MCAP course is identical, but they all have the same underlying goals. It is the responsibility of the course instructor to modify and inject the course with moments that will impact civilians.
“There are many benefits of taking this course from cultural understanding and awareness to increased communication between Marines and Civilian Marines,” said Western. “This course was expertly designed in providing a look at the history of the Marine Corps,” she said.
Currently, just under 20,000 civilian workers have joined to serve alongside the Marine Corps.
“Civilians choose to work for the U.S. government for very similar reasons to the men and women who choose to serve in the military,” said Deets, “both choose to serve our nation,” he continued.
Following a course evaluation, the attendees receive their completion certificates and honorary Civilian Marine pin to display with pride.
“It is an honor to have earned the title ‘Civilian Marine’,” said Western, “and to be working with a dedicated group of other Civilian Marines.”
MCB Quantico hosts the quarterly MCAP course in person and encourages all new civilian hires to attend within the first year of onboarding.
The program has provided all new civilian employees with the ability to integrate into a military workforce and contribute to the Marine Corps mission.
“To be a Civilian Marine is a term not to be taken lightly,” said Western. “It is an honor to be a part of a branch of the military who values their civilian workers.”
For more information about the program and eligibility, visit http://www.hqmc.marines.mil/hrom/SponsoredTraining