So you wanna be a Jarhead? Leatherneck, Gyrene, Devil Dog, or simply Marine. My Marine Corps has a long, glorious, illustrious, and colorful history extending back to the tenth of November, 1775. We've been there and done that. We got the t-shirt, the beer mug, the blood and bruises to prove it. You think you have what it takes to join our ranks? Outstanding. Bring it on.

Right now you are considering enlisting in the most prestigious of the US Military. We are "The Few, The Proud, The Marines". We are loud, we are proud, we are cocky. And, we don't take just anyone.

The process starts when you contact a Marine Recruiter. Let me tell you about him. He is a hard charger. He is working in a job outside his Military Occupational Specialty. He has a mission to provide X number of qualified enlistees each and every month or quarter. If you have your ducks in a line, he will be your best friend. If you are not quite squared away, he will bust his hump to help you.

He's not a used car salesman. He has no reason to lie to you. Don't get me wrong; He will present the best face of the Corps he can. He won't always tell you possible downsides. His job is to sell the Corps to you.

Your first step is to make some decisions before you meet the Recruiter.

1. Do you wish to go on active duty? Active Duty is day-on-stay-on 24/7 life as a Marine.

2. Or do you want to join the reserves. Being a Marine Reservist is no less challenging, but after training you return home and then "drill" one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.

Once you have decided that, you need to pick a job. Your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) influences virtually every aspect of life in the service. Surf over to for an overview. For specific MOS Codes and more information, simply google "USMC MOS".

1. What are your interests?

2. What skills or strong points do you have?

A good way to investigate this is to locate an ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) practice manual. By taking the time to figure out your potential ASVAB scores, you can narrow down your list of job options. Then, you begin to bone up on the essential knowledge to qualify for the MOS of your choice.

Now you are ready to talk to a Recruiter for the first time. What you are trying to nail down is if the local Marine Reserve unit rates the MOS you have chosen or if it is ACTDU (Active Duty) only. At this time, schedule an actual ASVAB test. Now the advice on a practice ASVAB makes sense huh? By scoring well on the ASVAB you are able to "sell" yourself better.

During the first meeting be clean cut and attentive. Do not act tough or try to impress the Recruiter. Make it clear that you are serious, but will not commit to anything until after the ASVAB is done and your MOS options are laid out. Take his business card and note the ASVAB date/time/location on the back of it. Exit stage right.

What you have just done is establish yourself as a motivated potential enlistee. Trust me, the Recruiter is not going to forget you or blow you off. And you have demonstrated that you are not totally clueless.

The next article will discuss negotiations with a Recruiter. Until then, Fair Winds and Following Seas.