Morale: The Curse of the Free Uniform


September 11, 2007: The U.S. Marine Corps will now issue all graduates of boot camp (basic training) with the dress blue uniform (you know the one, with all the blue, red and white, and long known as a splendid chick magnet.) Many marines are not happy with this new policy, because it will mean more work for many of them.

It works like this. Up until now, the dress uniform was optional, and many marines bought it (for $400-500) with their own money. Some marines were issued the dress blues if their job called for it, like embassy guards or recruiters. A few marines were given a set of dress blues for exceptional service (like finishing at the top during boot camp.) But here's the catch. Those who had dress blues, usually had that fact entered into their service record. That meant whenever there was a special occasion, where the marines were asked to send an honor guard, or whatever, wearing dress blues, the company first sergeants were asked to check their records to see who was available. These chores were often on weekends or evenings. It was extra duty you didn't get paid for (although there were often some free eats, maybe even a drink or so, and some admiring glances). Many marines who bought their own dress blues (for off-duty socializing), just kept that information out of their service records, as best they could. But under the new policy, all marines will be getting dress blues by 2011. That means everyone will be eligible for these "show the flag" (or marines in dress blues) gigs. While that's more fair, the majority of marines preferred the traditional method, of letting the few, the dumb or unfortunate enough to have it on their service record, do the special assignments. It's a tradition that will be missed.


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