May 23, 2024

Marines who plan on departing the Corps must now notify the service of their intent to exit no later than six months ahead of their planned departure date.

Previously, Marines could resign or retire with as little as four months of advanced notification. The update, released last Friday, went into immediate effect for the service.

The previous timeline of resignation notification within 4-14 months didn’t give Marines adequate time to prepare for their transitions, Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Eason said in an email to Military.com on Thursday.

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“The update to retirement and resignation requests was made to set transitioning Marines up for success as they embark on their next stage of life,” Eason said.

Additionally, Marines’ requests for resignation or retirement now may not be submitted before 18 months from the requested departure date; that’s up from a previous limit of 14 months.

“One of the elements of Talent Management is predictability, and to facilitate it for assignments and related actions,” the service update message said.

Talent Management is part of the Marine Corps’ broader Force Design modernization plan, which includes efforts to better manage retention of Marines. The Marine Corps loses around 75% of first-term Marines annually.

Eason added that the new message is being released as “interim guidance” while the Separations and Retirement Manual undergoes a more comprehensive update, which is set to be released later this year.

The Marine Corps has generated a slew of retention programs related to Talent Management, such as allowing Marines to reenlist early, in hopes of keeping more Marines beyond their initial four-year contacts.

Efforts may be paying off — in fiscal 2023, the service exceeded its first-term retention goal by roughly 850 Marines, according to Marine Corps Times.

The longer lead time required for Marines will keep them in the service a little longer to help those on the manpower side of the house project staffing allocations and shortfalls, and could also boost attendance rates for the service’s transition readiness seminar, the required course that prepares Marines exiting the service for post-military life.

A government watchdog report released last year found that at least 70% of the 200,000 service members who leave the military every year weren’t completing the mandatory transition course at least 12 months before their expected departure date.

The Defense Department normally requires troops to complete their transition training a full year before separating to allow ample time for end-of-service administrative requirements and to prepare for the job search.

Getting an early start on transitioning can be especially important for service members. Many veterans leave their first civilian job after the military within one year, and many underestimate how challenging the transition to the civilian workforce can be.

— Kelsey Baker is a graduate student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and a former active-duty Marine. Reach her on X at @KelsBBaker or bakerkelsey@protonmail.com.

Related: Big Bonuses, Relaxed Policies, New Slogan: None of It Saved the Military from a Recruiting Crisis in 2023

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