MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
The Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program has the power to propel enlisted Marines from standing in a formation, to leading the formation – as a commissioned officer.
MECEP is a Marine commissioning program that sends qualified applicants to college with the goal of earning their degree so they may serve in the Corps as officers.
The program is available to both active and reserve Marines who are looking to further their leadership abilities as well as heighten their knowledge in both academics and Marine Corps values.
“I always wanted to get a college degree. Up until the point of being a senior corporal, I wasn’t aware of the programs,” said Capt. Eric Henzler, supply officer, here.
After 10 years on the enlisted side as a dispersing clerk, Henzler made a decision.
“A staff non-commissioned officer made me aware of the programs and with no college, MECEP was the best choice,” said Henzler.
The program can be beneficial for Marines that have no college experience as well as those who do, added Henzler.
After one year of college, Major Kelly J. Grissom, intelligence officer, HQSVCBN, MARFORPAC, enlisted in the Marine Corps as a combat engineer. During his enlistment, a mentor of his convinced him to become an officer.
“One of my platoon commanders sat me down in the company office, along with my company [executive officer], and told me all about MECEP and they encouraged me to apply,” said Grissom.
There are basic eligibility requirements for the program and an application process that must be completed before being accepted.
An applicant must:
• Be at least 20 years of age but less than 26 by July 1 of the year applying. Consideration will be given to waive this requirement based on previous college credit.
• Be ranked in the top 50 percent of his high school class or have a General Equivalency Diploma score of at least 75.
• Have a Scholastic Assessment Test score with a minimum of 1000 or an American College
Test with a minimum of a 22 composite score.
The application and package requirements can be found in Marine Corps Order 1560.15L as well as Marine Administrative message 191/07. Both publications can be found on www.usmc.mil.
If the Marine is accepted, he will attend school at any of the participating schools he chooses. All MECEP participants will be on the roster of the nearest Marine Corps unit.
While attending school, Marines will receive full pay, benefits and allowances in their current grade with promotional opportunities, and will earn normal leave.
Upon receipt of a bachelor’s degree, and successful completion of Officer Candidates School and MECEP on-campus training, participants will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. They will then be required to serve a minimum of four years as commissioned officers.
Marines have many different reasons to become an officer.
“Originally I didn't really want to be an officer, but I did want to finish my education,” said Grissom. “The Marine Corps had given me the focus and the time to mature. That allowed me to realize that getting a degree was an important goal to me at that time.”
Grissom said he had a phenomenal Marine officer instructor that was so compelling, the degree no longer mattered by the time he graduated. What mattered to him was becoming an officer.
Henzler and Grissom both agreed that the lure of the officer ranks was an increase in leadership roles in the Marine Corps.
“It’s the satisfaction of knowing that you’re shaping the lives of young men and women as well as having a sphere of influence over Marines,” said Henzler.
Grissom said another benefit is being given the opportunity to command Marines, especially in combat.
“The rewards of leading a company of Marines simply cannot be expressed in words,” said Grissom. “I think MECEP is one of the best things we have going for NCOs in the Marine Corps and I would do it again a hundred times over and I highly encourage any Marine thinking about it to apply for the program.”