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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Expeditionary Training Base"

Amtrackers take Toyota reps once around the lot

By Cpl. Derrick A. Small | | February 6, 2003

Joining a growing list of major corporations that are taking notes on the Marine Corps' efforts to create a network that will help Marine professionals long after they leave the Corps, representatives of Toyota?s U.S. headquarters visited Camp Pendleton Jan. 29 to tour Assault Amphibian School Battalion here and discuss involvement in the Marine For Life program.

Toyota?s interest in the program, a Marine Corps-sponsored network for helping Marines transition out of the military and cultivate contacts that will help them as civilians, is rooted in the firm?s intent to hire former Marines.

"Today we received a good understanding of what the Marine For Life program is all about," said Rick Lester, a Toyota personnel official who toured AAS's classrooms and vehicle maintenance training areas. "Marines would be good for our company because they have discipline and maturity.  Also, in training, their No. 1 focus is similar to ours - consistency."

The program, founded by Gen. James L. Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps, is based on the "once a Marine, always a Marine" credo - and defines the premise with a support network of current and former Marines facilitated by the Corps and strategically stationed around the country.

"Before the Marine For Life program was officially launched in 46 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and recruiting station offices across the country in 2002, five test sites proved successful in 2001," explained Lt. Col. Karl Feierbacher, Marine For Life Camp Pendleton hometown link with 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion, 4th Marine Division.

Key components of the Marine For Life program include Marine Corps reservists known as "hometown links."  These Marines provide support and information to honorably discharged Marines looking for work, a place to live or community services.

According to Feierbacher, the number of hometown links is expected to increase from 125 now to 200 by the end of 2004.  The increase will expand and bolster the network for 27,000 Marines discharged from the Corps each year, he said.

Hometown links aid Marines in settling down into their community, said Staff Sgt. Michael R. Abragan, a Marine For Life representative with 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines.

"We've built a bridge to connect transitioning Marines with information they need regarding employment, housing, schools and a whole range of civilian concerns," added Maj. Gary Dean, project manager for the Marine For Life program.

The program also benefits civilian communities by allowing them to put Marine Corps training "to good use when the Marine leaves active duty," Dean said.

Along with Toyota, Cintas Corporation, Home Depot and Coors Brewing Company are among large corporations that have showed interest in program, Feierbacher said.

"We know that a Marine Corps background makes for an employee who's going to be a quick learner and adaptable to any setting," said Cintas' John Hatter.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business federation representing companies, business associations and state and local chambers, also is actively involved in the program to support Marines in their quest for another career and personal well-being, Feierbacher said.

"Although I would rather a Marine to remain in the Corps, this program opens up doors for those who do decide to move on," Feierbacher said.  "The program is dedicated to helping Marines transition from military to civilian life. Therefore, if a Marine has nowhere to turn, they can go to the Marine For Life program."