For the past few years, my son has had some behavior problems, especially at school. They ranged from bad grades and hanging out with the wrong crowd to fighting in school. He has been diagnosed with ADHD combined type and he also has a mood disorder. My mistake was waiting until he was well into middle school and the problems were almost too much to handle to get the diagnoses. I should have sought help years ago, before he hit puberty. I’m not going to get into everything that has happened and everything we’ve be through at this point, but just know…it was pretty bad.
So bad, in fact, that I was researching boot camps for troubled teens. They were all too expensive and too far away. Medication was beginning to help with some things, but he was still making some bad decisions. I was living in fear that one day, the phone would ring and I would find out he had been arrested and sent to juvenile. In February at one of many parent/teacher conferences…one of his teachers gave me some information on the Young Marine program. I had never heard of them before, so I immediately went home and did some research. I found our local chapter’s website, read up a bit, and immediately sent an email to the Unit Commander requesting more information. He replied within 24 hours and told me I was just in time because they were getting ready to start Recruit Training (aka boot camp) with a new group of kids. AND…it was relatively cheap. I didn’t have to send him away for weeks or months while he went through this training…it was only on Saturdays…in fact, every Saturday for 7 weeks (not to include Easter weekend) from 9-3. During those weeks, I noticed a change in my son. He sat up straighter, he was more concerned with his grooming and personal appearance, he was more respectful (still had some issues, but I saw alot of improvement), and he seemed to gain a new confidence. His grades went from being almost straight Fs to mostly Cs. It’s been great! Another thing I really like about the program, is it’s not for “troubled” kids. You will find kids from all walks of life in there, ranging from 8 years to 18 years. I wish I had known about the program years ago! My son loves it and has gotten several other kids his age and younger wanting to join also.
On Saturday, my son graduated Recruit Training and is now a Young Marine. He hopes to become a REAL Marine one day, after high school. If he sticks with it, he will be following in the footsteps of a long line of Marines from my side of the family (in fact, his uncle..my brother…is stationed in Afghanistan right now). Things are not perfect, but they are getting so much better. I have high hopes for him. I’ve included a few pictures and a video clip of the last part of the ceremony from yesterday. It was awesome and I’m so proud of him!
You can find out more about the Young Marines on their website http://www.youngmarines.com. I just want to stress that the Young Marines is not a recruiting tool for the U.S. Marine Corps, nor are the Young Marines a rehabilitation program for juvenile delinquents (says so on their websites). Somehow I knew that it would be the right fit for my son…maybe because he has been saying he wanted to be a Marine for the past few years…not just after he went through recruit training. If he wanted to really become a Marine…then he needed to make a lifestyle change. This was the perfect program for him to figure out what it was all about and what he needed to do to succeed. The Young Marines teaches greater self discipline, self confidence, and leadership abilities, physical fitness and leading a drug free lifestyle. It’s a great program for any child!