II MHG Marines take ultimate accountability

19 Jan 2006 | Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

Marines from the II Marine Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were selected at random to participate in a survey aimed at gathering statistics.  The results of the survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, will be used to compose an accurate idea of the local populace and appropriate federal funding.

Wanda Castillo works with the Census Bureau headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.  She explained she is in the midst of an ongoing project to count the Marines living in the barracks, a significant number of the local population.

“We take a sampling of units,” she explained. “We gather statistics that are the basis of how the government makes its decisions with funding, and that can have to do with housing or roads. Outside, it can fund schools, hospitals, and provide help for people with disabilities.”

“It’s a random survey, so each one is randomly chosen, and that’s why it’s so important that people respond,” said Castillo. “Each individual person represents so many people.  If you divide up what I’ll end up with, which is 10 people, who live here, they are going to represent everyone in this facility,” said Castillo, referring to the fact that more than 100 people currently live in barracks HP-115.

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas M. Kapla, company gunnery sergeant, II MHG, explained this once-a-decade counting ritual is occurring here to get quick accountability of a once-forgotten population.  “The reason they’re specifically going through the barracks is because at some point in the recent past, they’ve realized they’re missing the military in general, and so they’re making a special effort to go through and make sure they count all the military people living in the barracks.”

“In regards to the survey and how people can see the results, the information is published in on the census bureau American fact finder website.   The data is published in several different formats for beginners, who just want to look at the data, to experienced researchers,” said Castillo.

Lance Cpl. Jon P. Sibala, a native Burbank, Ca., and administrative clerk with the II MHG Group Personal Administration Center here, was one of the Marines chosen at random to participate in the survey.

“She asked me a lot of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions,” he said. “She asked how much I get paid and how many hours I work every week.”

Sibala acknowledged he was glad he was picked to represent his local population, and noted that it’s nice to know he counts. 

Like Sibala, many Marines said it was their first contact with the census bureau. 

Lance Cpl. Amy Brewer, another selected participant in the survey and clerk for the II MEF G-2, was excited to participate in the event. 

“I’ve never done this before, so I’m curious to see how it all comes out,” she said.

“It could equate to quality in life in the sense that the Marine Corps could have a much better sense of how many people we have living in the barracks,” said Kapla.  “The census and the government use it to determine a basis for what races, age groups, and income levels we have. The Marine Corps could use that to determine that maybe we should spend more money on pool tables, foosball tables, and things like that so we have some entertainment for people in the barracks.”