MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marine Aircraft Group 13 and the Marine Corps have developed ways to make career exploration a much more efficient process.
The consolidated career retention specialist office MAG-13 established here on station in March 2005 and the new Automated Career Retention System the Corps released weeks ago give Marines easier access to career planning assets.
“MAG-13 has the (first and) only combined CRS office in the Marine Corps,” said Sgt. David Killough, MAG-13 career retention specialist. “This works out better in case a CRS is out of the office for leave, temporary assigned duty, reenlistment ceremony or otherwise, because there are other career planners in the same office. We cover each others’ squadrons when needed because a Marine should always have access to a career planner.
“The whole reason we switched to the combined office was for the availability of career planners and the convenience of the Marine,” explained the Cocoa, Fla., native.
As a result of the new setup, MAG-13 Marines interested in reenlisting have more options.
“We doubled the amount of boat spaces we were able to secure for the Marines this year, and that’s due to this office being combined,” said Gunnery Sgt. Lloyd Clark, MAG-13 CRS. “With the old setup, retention stopped when a career planner went on leave or TAD. Now, Marines can come in any time and retention doesn’t stop.”
Like the rest of the west coast career planners, MAG-13 career planners recently received a new computer program to help them and the Marines they serve.
“The (Automated Career Retention System) has only been available for two or three weeks,” said Killough. “The west coast is the (testing area) for it. The east coast doesn’t even have it yet.”
ACRS provides Marines with information ranging from points of contact to special duty assignments.
“ACRS gives a Marine contact info for that specific Marine’s CRS. It also has info listed for a backup career planner as well in case their primary one isn’t available,” said Killough.
“Marines can schedule appointments and interviews with career planners,” he added. “They can request information on special duty assignments too. We can keep track of all that information to see what that Marine is interested in and what they are considering for their future.”
If Marines have a simple question or they just want to know what kind of options they have, ACRS can be used as a quick reference.
“The ACRS can answer a lot of questions Marines ask us and it’s just a couple clicks away,” said Sgt. John Messer, MAG-13 CRS. “It shows them opportunities they may not even know about and it shows them what they are eligible for. Any questions they have after that, we can answer them.”
Half of the battle career planners now face is getting the word out about the new system.
“The main thing is that Marines know that they have access to ACRS through their Marine On-Line account,” said Killough. “Marines need to be aware that they have a new avenue to check out career options and get in touch with their career planner.”
If a Marine has access to MOL, he has access to ACRS.
“They can begin using ACRS by logging in to MOL, clicking on the resources link and then clicking on the ACRS link,” explained Killough. “They’ll need to check their account once or twice a week (for messages and updates).”
Like many new programs, there are a few bugs that are yet to be corrected concerning ACRS.
“It’s a new system, so there are still a few quirks that need to be worked out,” said Killough. “For example, ACRS is running on east coast time right now. So when we schedule appointments, we have to make sure we schedule them for two hours ahead of when we actually want to have the appointment.”
Despite the small problems, ACRS appears to be the future of career planning.
“I see the new way being a lot more effective because you can keep track of Marines better and it gets rid of the paperwork because everything is automated,” said Killough.
Despite career planners not being present in each squadron’s hangar and using the new program, CRSs will still see Marines face-to-face.
“Marines will still be in contact with their career planners. We’ll still visit the units to show our faces and make ourselves available. We’ll still call the Marines, too, because we know that not every Marine checks MOL regularly.”
Messer, a Goshen, Ohio, native, admitted that, even as a career planner, he is still in the process of learning about ACRS, but he said it is definitely going to be a useful tool.
As soon as ACRS has successfully completed its testing phase, more options will be added to it.
“Once ACRS gets going full speed sometime around September, (commanding officers) will be able to approve reenlistments on the spot,” said Clark, an Inglewood, Calif., native.
Marines who enjoy paperwork will soon be out of luck because the old system is going to be obsolete.
“Marines can begin using ACRS now,” said Killough. “We don’t even have all the old forms anymore.”