MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.(Sept. 12, 2006) -- With a new fiscal year around the corner, the time to decide whether to re-enlist is closing in fast on many Marines.

Marines who decide to re-enlist must submit their package during the fiscal year of their end of active service date, however, there are many factors to consider before making the final decision.

According to Master Sgt. Juan Allen, Depot career retention specialist, all Marines are required to meet with a career retention specialist or commanding officer several times a year to guide them in weighing their options and making smart career decisions before re-enlisting.

The content of the career meetings is designed to educate Marines on key re-enlistment incentives such as bonuses, duty stations, education and lateral moves, which is the changing of a Marines military occupation specialty.

One re-enlistment incentive starting fiscal year 2007, and specific to the Depot, is seven or ten days of permissive temporary additional duty.

"Our most valuable asset is the individual Marine. My goal is to increase our focus on retaining our Marines by use of all means available," stated Brig. Gen. Paul E. Lefebvre, commanding general, MCRD Parris Island/Eastern Recruiting Region, in a Depot Bulletin. "The purpose of providing[permissive temporary additional duty] as an incentive for re-enlisting is to allow our Marines to take care of professional, family and personal readiness matters."

First term Marines are required to attend five meetings regarding their life goals and plans for their Marine Corps career during their term of enlistment.

"I like to focus on the individual Marine and their goals before discussing re-enlistment options with the Marine," said Allen.

All Marines who have already served at least one term are required to attend three career
meetings per term of enlistment.

In order to help prepare Marines for these meetings, a new Internet accessible system, known as the Automated Career Retention System, has been created.

ACRS is a double-edged sword when it comes to cutting into re-enlistment options. Not only does it aid Marines, but it is a tool used by their career retention specialist as well.

On one side, ACRS allows Marines easy access to vital information on re-enlistment opportunities. Marines can quickly access ACRS through their Marine Online account, and from there, access the entire MOS manual, requirements for special schools and duties available upon re-enlistment and their personal records all at the same time. This allows simple and convenient comparisons for Marines. A checklist also provided through ACRS breaks down preparations for career meetings into a few simple steps.

"ACRS is only as good as the Marines who use it," said Allen. "It is a powerful resource all Marines should use to help influence their career choices."

On the other side, the system also helps career retention specialists by enabling them to send a message straight to a Marine's MOL account to notify them of an upcoming career meeting. Also, by looking at ACRS, a career retention specialist is able to compare a Marine's cutting scores, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores and education and training records all together, in order to help determine what is best for a Marine, and where they can best apply their skills.

Information available on ACRS is updated weekly to ensure Marines are able to research the most current information regarding their re-enlistment options.

After reviewing the ups and downs of re-enlisting, it is up to the individual Marine to decide whether or not to follow through with another term of service. Once a Marine always a Marine, active duty or not, Allen emphasized every Marine should be educated and never act blindly while making dramatic career decisions such as signing the dotted line.