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Delayed Entry Program prepares senior for life as a Marine

As the majority of seniors begin the journey of applying to college, senior Mikayla Durtschi has chosen to take the road less traveled by committing to the Marines.

Mikayla Durtschi stands next to a fellow recruit after taking the oath of enlistment.
Mikayla Durtschi stands next to a fellow recruit after taking the oath of enlistment.

After being recruited over the summer, Durtschi pledged to the Marines and is undergoing preparations through the Delayed Entry Program, a program for students who haven’t yet graduated high school. Her main reasons for joining the Marines centered around the opportunities for financial benefits and work experience.

“It is the program we go into to join the military,” Durtschi said. “You are fully enlisted but you still have to complete other responsibilities before you can go to boot camp. I have to graduate high school, and that is my only requirement.”

The program includes meeting once a week with a recruiter to evaluate the emotional and physical state of the new recruits, who are commonly called “poolees.”

“What I expect from the training program, before I go to boot camp, is once a week I go up to the office and a group of poolees, not just women, work out and practice drills,” Durtschi said.

Durtschi is confident in her ability to complete boot camp because of the high completion rate at her boot camp– only one person has been unable to complete the program.

After Durtschi completes the Delayed Entry Program and agrees to serve as a marine, she will be eligible for programs that pay up to 100 percent of college tuition.

“[Traditional] college isn’t the only option,” Durtschi said. “I can go to online college, there are colleges at the bases, and there are colleges near the bases, like UC Santa Barbara.”

Although Durtschi will be a certified Marine, she is not planning on participating in combat.

“Women are not allowed to be in combat for the Marines,” Durtschi said. “There are a few jobs I can’t do as a woman, but there are a lot of other options such as logistics, intel, and a bunch of mechanical stuff, which is what I am looking into. We are not expected to be any less physically fit than men are.”

The system will change in 2016, however, and women will be allowed to enter battle.

“Women not being able to go into combat is a result of the very man-dominated institution that the military is,” said Durtschi. “I think women should be allowed to serve for their country, die for their country. They should have the right, just like men.”

According to the Women Marines Association, women make up only 7.11% of the Marine Corps. Although women cannot currently be in combat, they still have the option of being shipped overseas.

“I could be in Japan, SoCal, and there are some places on the East Coast in the Carolinas,” she said. “I want to go overseas. I want to travel the world. I have never been out of the U.S. and I think that this is a great opportunity to do so.”

Durtschi said that while her parents did not expect her to join the Marine Corps, they’ve respected her decision.

“My dad was very supportive of it,” Durtschi said. “He told me, ‘If this is what you want to do, I’ll send you, I’ll support you, I’ll help you.’ He was helping me get the information. He went to the first meeting I went to with my recruiter. We didn’t tell my mom until after we went to the first meeting and after I decided it was a consideration. She came to watch me swear in, and she was tearing up. ”

Durtschi will be sent to boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, in August 2015, leaving her with just less than a year to prepare.

“At this point, if I did not show up to boot camp, I would be penalized,” Durtschi said. “I have gotten military orders to leave for boot camp August 23, 2015, and if you don’t follow those orders, it’s desertion of duty.”

Durtschi is the only Redwood senior to commit to the Marines this year.

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Keely Jenkins, Author