What does a Marine Reservist do?

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  • Written By: A. Scott
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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A Marine reservist generally has three duties. The first is providing available personnel to the Marine Corps during peacetime. A second responsibility is to support Marine forces during national emergencies or during war time. Thirdly, the reservist performs community service. Reservists usually make a part-time commitment to the Marine Corps of one weekend per month and two weeks per year and typically either attend school or work a civilian job.

There are three boot camp training facilities for Marine reservists. Recruits who live west of the Mississippi River are usually sent to San Diego, California. Parris Island, South Carolina, is the destination for reservists located east of the Mississippi. Quantico, Virginia is where potential officers receive training. Active duty recruits are trained in one of these locations as well. Boot camp for reservists and active duty Marines is 13 weeks long.

After going through Marine boot camp and infantry school with recruits who enlisted for active duty, the marine reservist attends occupational training. This part-time training allows the reservist to pursue an education or continue a civilian career. His reserve activity may be completed near school or home, but the location will ultimately depend on the reservist's occupational training. Reservists have a motto of "Ready, Willing, Able" and almost always sign an eight-year contract.


The most traditional form of reserve duty is the Selected Marine Corps Reserve (SMCR). This path allows marine reservists to have typical careers and normal civilian lives. As a member of the SMCR, the reservist is on active duty two weekends per month and one week per year.

During wartime, the marine reservist helps the Corps by mobilizing with Marines who are serving on active duty. The part-time active-duty training is designed to keep the reservist prepared for such mobilizations. His duty can also include helping the families of deployed Marines and providing community outreach.

During peacetime, marine reservist duties include fostering a good relationship with leaders in the community. Cultivating good relationships with fire and police departments as well as developing support from political leaders is important. Public awareness campaigns and active promotion of Marine Corps goals is part of the marine reservist job description.

There are hundreds of occupations available to marine reservists. An aptitude test helps determine which career field the reservist can choose from. The marine reservist's job description will depend upon the career he chooses to pursue. Many reservists say they enjoy the best of both worlds in that they are recognized as Marines, yet have the flexibility available to the civilian.


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