Young Marines, (YM) was established in 1959 by the Korean War and World War II Marines.
The Young Marines program was designed for children, from eight years old through high school, that focuses on leadership and citizenship through community service, self-discipline, and living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. YM upholds the Marine Corps core values of honor, courage, and commitment as well as leadership, discipline, and teamwork.
Community service that YM does includes park and beach cleanups, Wreaths Across America, and Toys for Tots. In addition, YM is the largest single youth organization that has a drug demand reduction education component. On top of that, YM also focuses on health and fitness through a holistic lens. The physical, mental, and spiritual components all play a role in fitness, according to the organization and this focus on holistic fitness helps keep kids away from drugs.
“You won't be your full person if you do [drugs],” said CEO Col Bill Davis, USMC, Ret. in a recent interview with Sports & Service. “Make your adult choices later, but as a child, stay clean.”
Davis first joined the Marine Corps in 1985 through the Platoon Leader Course and was commissioned in 1987. After initial thoughts to be a civilian aerospace engineer, Davis came to the realization that wasn’t the path for him. Seeing a flier, Marine Corps Officer Candidate School set him on a 24-year career. From Desert Storm in Hawaii to Virginia, to Kansas City to New Orleans, back to Virginia, and then back to New Orleans, Davis got the opportunity to do a lot of different jobs while serving. Davis was even fortunate enough to have met his wife during his first tour in Hawaii and still enjoy adventures together today.
Now at Young Marines, a component Davis and the organization have started focusing on in the last few years is stress — it has become more prevalent in society, especially during the Coronavirus Pandemic. This aligns with YM’s holistic approach to health, however, as stress has a tremendous effect on the body and one’s lifestyle, some of their leadership schools teach stress and anger management courses. They are also including it in their guidebooks for youth members.
“Only 23 percent of people between the ages of 17 and 24 are eligible to serve,” Davis said. “And why is that? Well, it's because of health, obesity, fitness, academics, drug usage, criminal record, general apathy, etc. You're left with this 23 percent of people that are eligible to serve. And out of that 23 percent, only 8 percent are interested.”
Beyond just the military, there are millions of jobs requiring a healthy drug-free condition. The military is the tip of the iceberg, we need the next generation ready to step up across all aspects of national security and infrastructure. Whichever choice our Young Marines make, they will be prepared for life.
With such a low population willing and able to serve, it’s especially difficult to recruit people to be in the military. This is one struggle that Davis is determined to fix. Through his hard work, Davis has been able to help others, something that initially appealed to him when he first enlisted.
For more information, visit Young Marines’ website here.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Young Marines’ Instagram