CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
“Protect What You’ve Earned” is more than a campaign Marine Corps leaders are throwing their weight behind. It’s a message meant to start conversations between Marines and sailors, and promote the development of peer support systems and responsible decision making and actions. The campaign was designed to decrease alcohol related incidents and all destructive behaviors that decrease readiness and have a negative impact on the Marine, their families and the community.
“To all, have zero doubt, Marine Corps leaders want every Marine to be successful… this is an effort to maximize success,” said Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command and confirmed 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps in a letter to his Marines. “This is about each of us as part of a team…we need every player at his/her best.”
The commander of II Marine Expeditionary Force, Maj. Gen. William D. Beydler, is picking up Neller’s baton and dedicating his full effort to educate leaders aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, on the importance of engaging their Marines and sailors, developing peer support groups within their units and encouraging personal responsibility.
“I have seen some very significant poor decision making that was causing tragic consequences for individual Marines and sailors, their families, bystanders and ultimately our units, all of which degraded the readiness of II MEF,” Beydler said.
In February 2015, II MEF hosted several focus groups on responsible alcohol use, made up of diverse populations of Marines and sailors. They discussed experiences, concerns and motivations that affect their behavior and alcohol use.
The groups discovered excessive alcohol consumption is actually the exception, with most Marines and sailors choosing to drink responsibly or abstain. Many Marines and sailors felt their peers might believe reckless drinking behaviors are the norm. This realization helped shape the campaign message to make responsible decisions.
In the near future, there will be billboards in prominent locations within Jacksonville and the surrounding area. In addition to the billboards, posters are being placed around many barracks and other high traffic areas, touting statistics such as, “85 percent of Marines and sailors drink responsibly, what will be your legacy?”
“The ultimate goal is to save lives,” said Robert Davis, the combat and operational stress control regional training coordinator and resiliency program manager for II MEF. “We’re hoping to improve the quality of life between Marines, sailors and their families.”
In support of this campaign, II MEF is planning to host an Alcohol Abuse Prevention Seminar Aug. 20 and 21, aboard Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. Guests include Dr. Jack Matthews, a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who will share his personal experience with alcohol abuse and the effects it had on his career and family life.
Beydler said he hopes Marines and sailors will take away a positive message from the campaign by holding themselves and their peers accountable and making “Protect What You’ve Earned” a team effort.
“The point we wanted to make is you work very hard for that which you’ve achieved in the Navy and Marine Corps,” Beydler said. “The standards and expectations are high. Why would you allow poor decisions to put at risk everything you’ve worked so hard for?”