You Are Not Replaceable
You are not replaceable.
Read that again. Now say it out loud. Now believe it!
Since some of you might be brand new to “me” and who I am, I feel like I should share a little bit of back story.
I retired from the Marine Corps in 2015 - yes, I’m that old, - and now I’m trying to live my best life here in Anchorage, Alaska.
Let me start by saying that overall, I absolutely loved my time in the Marine Corps. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the Corps, however, it didn’t come without sacrifice, hardships, stress, loss of loved ones, and sometimes even a loss of self/personal identity.
About the last 4 - 5 years of my career, I was privy to a lot of things and information that many were/are not. I was a Career Planner and in general, I was responsible for helping Marines of all ranks with their career paths, educating them on how to be competitive for both promotion and reenlistment, as well as helping them transition out of the Marine Corps if thats where the path led them.
I always knew that politics and “who you knew” played a roll in many things, but it became so much more apparent over the years. I really began to dislike my job because I saw OUTSTANDING Marines who wanted to stay in being forced out instead, and Marines who were less than average being allowed to reenlist.
Moving on to the point though…at the end of the day, it’s a huge numbers game. At one point during my career (a few years after 9/11) we were hyper-focused on building the Marine Corps - recruiting and retention were top priority and we were giving away more money than we ever had to ensure we kept as many people as we could, and we were also waiving so many requirements! Of course we exceeded our goal in typical Marine Corps fashion. :)
Fast forward to the draw down. The war was winding down, the Marine Corps didn’t have money, and we had more people than we needed. And people cost money, so… what did we do? We started forcing more and more people out.
Without getting into too much detail, it all came down to a numbers game. Marines were no longer looked at as people - people with real lives when they left work, people with families, responsibilities, etc. - they were a number on a piece of paper, and the way I describe it, were all just a pawn in the Marine Corps giant game of chess; and were all easily replaceable. In the grand scheme of things, you didn’t really matter. You had someone on deck ready to take your place, sometimes before you even knew you were leaving.
For those of you who have served, or are currently serving, I get it. I know there is so much more that goes into recruiting and retention, but I would be here all day if I tried to explain the ins and outs of everything, and thats not the point of this post.
The point is, that at the end of the day, we were/are all replaceable; from the Private all the way up the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, and we all understood that when we signed up. We knew we weren’t the first and that we wouldn’t be the last, but I don’t think that anyone expected to be treated as replaceable, and as if they didn’t matter.
Seeing that was so disheartening at times. :(
It made me wonder, at what point did we (the leadership) become so jaded and hard that we forgot we were dealing with real people, people with real feelings? Yes, they were all Marines and all very capable of “sucking it up”, but they were people first. I asked some senior leadership if they would want their 18+ year old children to be treated like this.
[And no, I’m not talking about the mind-fxck of boot camp, or the ball/ovary busting of being the brand new boot in your unit/shop. I’m not talking about the rights of passage that we all had to go through]
I’m talking about the real life stuff. Would you want your child to be scared to speak up about being sick, having an injury, or to have serious thoughts about suicide - yet not feel safe or comfortable enough to talk to anyone about it?
Fxck no! What kind of environment is that? I could go on and on about this because I saw so many Marines suffer instead of reaching out for help. I already know some of you hard asses out there are like, “thats their own dumb ass fault” (or something to that nature). Believe me, I get it. I WAS that hard ass for a long time. I was the unapproachable, “what the fxck do you want”, strictly business, “get the fxck out of my face” asshole for a very long time! BUT that is NO way to treat people, and I’m just happy that I realized that and changed my ways.
Even though this post is primarily about the Marine Corps, the main take away is this:
YOU ARE NOT REPLACEABLE!
Don’t ever let anyone try to tell you otherwise.