March 29, 2012

Opinion: Commend the deserving, encourage the wayward

Cpl. Jakob Schulz
DoD photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder

All too often I see the line between noncommissioned officers and junior enlisted Marines blurring.

I see lance corporals and privates first class talking back to corporals and sergeants, and NCO’s getting too friendly with the Marines they’re supposed to be leading and setting the standard for.

When I picked up corporal I told myself nothing was going to change, that I didn’t want to become the NCO who always yelled and looked for reasons to put other Marines in their place.

However, in order to be an NCO you have to act and think like an NCO, you have to be the Marine who stops others and doesn’t let them slack off when no one else is watching. Also, I couldn’t have the same mindset I did when I was a lance corporal or private first class.

To be an effective NCO I needed to realize this, I couldn’t see a messed up Marine and not correct him, thinking he wasn’t my problem. As a corporal he was my problem, he was the problem of every single NCO on base and in the Corps.

I also realized with rank it’s the duty of every Marine to shape the future of the Corps and try to motivate every Marine to develop goals and strive to achieve them.

As corporals and sergeants we do need to set the example and balance what we want to do and what we need to do. I used to be lazy and did what I had to in order to get by and go home. But somewhere along the line I forgot that being a Marine isn’t a 9-5 job; It’s 24/7.

This is something NCOs need to remember the most, if you’re in front of lower enlisted and drunkenly stumbling around the barracks or can’t keep up in a run you’re personally undermining the authority of every NCO that Marine comes into contact with.

Setting the example and upholding standards is paramount. Without any guidance many Marines, as is our nature, fall into a state of disorder and laziness, and it’s the job of NCOs to set Marines back on track.

It doesn’t matter if you see widespread results, because if it does have an impact on even one person, one senior, one junior or even a fellow NCO it’s going to have been worth it.

That’s what being an NCO means to me, always striving to be better and attempting to motivate others to better themselves as well.

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