Updated: May 2, 2020
COVID-19 has required numerous unprecedented measures be taken across the world and our nation. Recruit Training has always been an environment where men and women from across the country have come together and lived in tight quarters. Even during regular times, many new recruits will come down with a cough known as the “recruit crud.”
Marine Corps Recruit Training has continued for over 200 years, through wars and disease. To get through COVID-19, the Marine Corps has had to adapt.
Starting from the MEPS station through graduation, many actions have been taken to protect Recruits, Drill Instructors, and the extended Marine Corps family at the recruit depots. Here, we will discuss some of the measures being taken to protect recruits and what that means for Poolees shipping in the coming months:
Recruits will continue to be processed at their local Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) prior to shipping to recruit training. Recruiters and medical personnel at MEPS stations will screen Poolees for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to shipping in order to protect others they will encounter on their way to training.
Upon arrival at their respective Depot, recruits will each be tested for the presence of the virus. Following this medical process, they will be placed in a medical holding and observation status for 14 to 16 days. Parris Island-bound recruits are staying at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina while those hoping to graduate from San Diego as "Hollywood Marines" will be staying in local hotels.
To meet their basic needs, Poolees will be provided with green PT gear, sweatshirt, sweatpants, and an initial issue of essentials to include toiletries and letter writing materials. Poolees will begin accruing pay for their appropriate grade during this period.
Once medically cleared at the completion of the holding phase, these men and women will be transferred to their squadbays to complete the remainder of the receiving and processing steps to include haircuts, inoculations, uniform issue, and gear issue.
New recruits will complete Black Friday and begin training as usual, but Drill Instructors and Officers will enforce several measures to further protect Recruits and staff.
-Recruit racks will be spaced to enforce maximum social distancing.
-Platoons will march in two columns instead of the normal four columns to allow maximum space between ranks while still enabling military discipline and drill to be enforced.
-Recruits and Marines are required to wear face coverings whenever 6 feet distance cannot be maintained, and recruits will sit staggered in chow halls and other seating areas.
-Each of these measures will be enforced to the maximum extent possible till otherwise directed by Marine Corps order or higher Department of Defense directive.
-Despite these actions, training from this point will continue as normal, and no graduation requirements or standards will be relaxed.
Currently there are restrictions on families entering either Depot to protect both recruits completing their training and those employed across the installations. Due to this, there are numerous changes to the conduct of the Marine Weeks following the Crucible.
-Graduation ceremonies and the motivational runs will be closed to the public.
-Each will be livestreamed on Facebook for families and friends to view at their leisure.
-Additionally, new Marines will be allowed to have cell phones and chargers mailed to them for use after they earn the title of Marine.
-Each depot will send out messages on social media platforms to include Facebook and Instagram when families should send these materials.
-After graduation, new Marines will check in to the School of Infantry directly from Parris Island or San Diego, meaning they will not receive their 10 days of boot leave.
The times we live in are undesirable to say the least, but they are the reality of life. The Marine Corps will continue to do its job, remaining prepared to defend the nation.