Youth may learn and practice the skills of teamwork, discipline and leadership through the Rutherford County Young Marines, a Rutherford County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer said.
The Young Marines instill the core values of the U.S. Marines into boys and girls ages 8 to 18, said Oakland High School SRO Curtis Brinkley, who is an adult leader with the group. The groups started in 1958 with the motto of “Strengthening the lives of America’s youth.”
“We want you to be courageous in life,” SRO Brinkley said. “We want you to be disciplined in understanding every action has a consequence, whether good or bad. We encourage you to make good decisions. If you make mistake, accept that mistake. Accept your own actions and learn from them.”
The Young Marines train once per month for an overnight drill at the Smyrna National Guard Reservist Joint Training Center where activities range from physical training, leadership, academics and safety.
Registration for new recruits will be 8 a.m. Saturday, March 15 at the Smyrna Joint Reserve Training Center on Fitzhugh Boulevard in Smyrna. Cost is a $75 fee that pays for shirts, a guidebook, patches for the uniform and hat and medical insurance. To join, youths must still be in good standing at their school.
SRO Brinkley became involved in the Young Marines program when he registered his son and taught a drug demand reduction class. Sheriff Robert Arnold and the SRO Division encourage SROs to be active in youth community groups. The Rutherford County chapter is led by Unit Commander David Assfalg, a retired Marine.
The SRO program encourages the officers to become involved in youth activities. With his background as a firefighter, police officer and SRO, Brinkley said he meshed into the program easily.
As Young Marines, the youths:
* Practice leadership.
* Achieve certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
* Participate in physical fitness to improve their lifestyle.
* Undergo classroom instruction on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
* Do cleanup work to give back to the community.
* Take classes in principles of leadership and public speaking.
* Complete teamwork exercises to adapt the concept of collecting ideas together.
The Young Marines operated on a rank structure where youths must advance through hard, work, dedication, training and talents.
“You are Young Marines together,” SRO Brinkley said. “You want a sense of camaraderie. You want to feel like you belong.”
Young Marines has 300 chapters with 10,000 youth nationwide.