Most young men and women who make the decision to join the Marines are aware of certain perks they will earn through their service. They often meet their recruiter with general knowledge of pay, education programs, and medical benefits, but most don’t understand all of the details associated with each.
This first benefit Marines receive is their pay and allowances. Base pay begins the second Marines begin Recruit Training or OCS, and it is set for all Marines based on their pay grade (i.e. E-1, E-5, O-3) and their years of service. For example, a Lance Corporal (E-3) with less than two years of service earns $2,042 a month, and a Staff Sergeant (E-6) with eight years of service earns $3,653 a month. Marines are also provided a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) allowance if they are above the rank of Sergeant, an officer, or married. The BAH rate is also based on the Marines rank but is also tied to cost of living in the geographic location which they are stationed. Marines stationed in southern California can see BAH amounts over $2,000, yet those in South Carolina will be around $1,500. All other Marines are given a room in a barracks which to call home.
College or technical schooling is a dream for many Marines, but most lack the financial means to do so on their own. Marines have access two main programs which they can utilize for advanced education: Tuition Assistance (TA) and GI Bill. Tuition assistance is available to Marines as soon as they graduate from recruit training. Marines can apply for TA when they enroll in college courses to help offset the cost of earning their degree. They can work with their unit education officers and installation education centers to help activate this benefit. The GI Bill comes in two forms, Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Each version of the GI Bill can provide Marines with upwards of $100,000 in benefits to include tuition, some fees, and a housing allowance in some cases. The use of either version of the bill is different based on what school the Marine chooses to attend, as well as if they choose to complete school while in the service or after they separate. Marines also can transfer some or all their GI Bill benefits to their spouse or children so they may attend schooling for low or no cost.
The next major benefit is complete medical care for Marines, their spouses, and their children. Marines have immediate access to Navy medical, dental, and vision services through their entire career. For those stationed at joint bases, they are provided opportunity to utilize service available through sister services they are collocated with. Marines will normally complete one health assessment, dental exam, hearing test, and vision test each year. They can receive two dental cleanings, all required immunizations, eyeglasses, and so much more as needed. There are even opportunities for elective surgeries such as wisdom teeth removal and LASIK/PRK surgeries.
Each of these services are provided at no cost to the Marine. For their families, Marines can enroll them in medical and dental programs such as Tricare and United Concordia, each for relatively low
cost. These health plans allow family members to utilize portions of the military health system, but they also open the door to civilian specialists at little or no cost to the Marine and their family. Though the intangible benefits of service abound, Marines have access to these and more tangible benefits for them and their family members. Though the amount and type of benefit can vary in each Marines case, these perks are often highly competitive with, or better than those offered by comparable civilian opportunities.