Being a Reserve Marine can be a challenging responsibility that requires Marines to learn how to balance and prioritize competing aspects of their lives.
Capt. Stephen B. Simmons, a 32-year-old Combat Engineer Officer with Marine Aircraft Group-41 in Fort Worth, Texas, has worked in many different roles in his 12 years of service. Simmons started as an enlisted reserve Marine, became a reserve Marine officer, was mobilized for four years, and is now serving on the Active Reserve Program.
U.S. Marine Capt. Stephen B. Simmons prepares to hold a conference call at Marine Aircraft Group-41 Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, on August 16, 2016. As a Marine officer, Simmons is frequently in charge of leading meetings between Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexis Rocha)
“A wise leader once told me that the challenges for reserve Marines is like trying to juggle three bowling balls of family, civilian employment, and duty to Corps in a china shop,” said Simmons. “This is the constant struggle that reserve Marines face, and we as leaders must be ever mindful of it.”
When he first served as a reserve Marine, Simmons was going to school at Hardin-Simmons University, and upon graduation he immediately began a career in the civilian world. Attending school and his civilian occupation were already big time commitments and making time to come in for drill each month wasn't easy.
“It's hard to balance everything,” said Staff Sgt Bruce E. Stevens, an Intelligence Analyst with Marine Aircraft Group-41. “I appreciate drill and the Marine Corps, but it's extremely hard to put yourself in the ‘drill mindset' when you have so many other things going on.”
Stevens, a 29-year-old reserve Marine from Fort Worth, Texas, spent five years active duty before entering the reserve component. Now, as a reserve Marine, Stevens finds himself in that same juggling act of family, school, work, and the Marine Corps. Married with two young children, he is also getting his degree in Entrepreneurial Management from Texas Christian University, and he operates his own welding and fabrication company.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Bruce E. Stevens does some late-night aluminum welding for his welding and fabrication company on June 25, 2016. Stevens' dedication to his work, no matter the hour, is a trait that allows him to flourish as a reserve Marine while balancing many competing aspects of his life. (Photo by Michael McCoy with use permission provided)
In order to balance these competing roles, Stevens draws upon his Marine training.
“The Marine Corps has given me the ability to take on any challenge and minimize it and the ability to manage stress,” said Stevens.
Stevens also emphasized the importance of priorities in being successful in both civilian and military life, saying, “If it's a priority, it will get done; if something doesn't get done, it is because you didn't make it a priority.”
Reserve service, although challenging, teaches applicable skills and gives invaluable experience to Marines. Stevens learned metalwork through his first military occupational specialty as a Helicopter Airframe Mechanic. He now uses this skill in his metalwork business. Simmons is also constantly developing his leadership skills through his duties as a reserve Marine officer.
Marines, whether reserve or active duty, continue to serve because of their love for the Marine Corps. Both Simmons and Stevens say they plan on staying in for the long-haul, despite the challenges, because of their love for the Marine Corps and their fellow Marines.
“I love the Gun Club,” said Simmons. “I know there are easier things out there, but here I know I am making a difference.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Alexis Rocha
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