Former Marine Public Affairs Sergeant Gives Back to Community After EAS
6th Marine Corps District
Story by Sgt. Joseph Jacob
Friday, March 27, 2020
“Don’t you mean that you did those things for the Marines, like as a civilian, not as a Marine? Do they even allow women in the Marines?”
A look of puzzlement usually accompanied these questions from potential employers as former sergeant of Marines, Tabitha Bartley, was interviewing for jobs after her enlistment. By the third time it occurred, the mother of three realized just how widespread this misconception of the corps was.
“I had to constantly reassure not just them, but also people I met out in town, that female Marines do exist and go through the same training as men,” explained the Lafayette, Ind., native. “Once most of them took a second to process what I was saying they immediately would comment how incredible that was.”
Bartley doesn’t view it as incredible though, she simply was doing and achieving the same things as her male counterparts. She wanted to join to be a Marine not a, “female Marine.”
“I know it sounds like a cheesy cliché, but I have always wanted to do as much good as I can in the world,” explains Bartley. “That is how my recruiter sold me on joining, by speaking about the humanitarian efforts he was a part of.”
Before the 19-year-old Bartley answered the unexpected phone call from her recruiter and agreed to come in for an interview, she did not believe she was meant for the corps, and neither did her family and friends. Those around her were very vocal, they didn’t think she had what it took to be a United States Marine and she’d just be wasting her time by trying to survive in the corps. Bartley was never known to live her life by other’s opinions, so, in 2010 she boarded a bus to Parris Island to earn her title, United States Marine.
“There were two moments that I distinctly remember when my family’s opinion changed, the first was when they saw me march across the graduation deck at the end of boot camp in uniform,” Bartley continues. “And the second came when they saw me become the community relations chief at Quantico, that’s really where I feel like I found my calling and they recognized that.”
While serving for eight years in the Marines’ occupational field of public affairs, Bartley’s focus was on improving her communities, engaging and informing the public, and raising awareness about what the Marines stand for. One of her favorite programs was the Educators’ Workshop, an annual four-day event where she gathered about 40 high school coaches, counselors, and teachers and escorted them around Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. During the four days educators got to experience a condensed version of recruit training hands-on and learn more about the men and women that take up the call. It also serves as a chance for the Marines to gain knowledge about the obstacles educators face and how they can assist them.
“We not only were able to give them a unique insight into what Marines are about, but we formed real, lasting connections with those educators,” said Bartley. “To this day I keep up with many of them, and they will still contact me if they have questions or concerns about the Marines.”
The relationships, experiences, and opportunities the Marine Corps provided Bartley are irreplaceable. Now that she is out of the corps she continues to find ways to improve her community back in her home state of Indiana. Currently, Bartley is campaigning to be in the state senate so she can help change the lives of her constituents for the better.
The Marine Corps teaches Marines how to be part of something bigger than themselves. The lessons Marines learn are everlasting and Tabitha Barkley is just one example of how the Marine Corps can change someone’s life and encourage them to be the best version of themselves. Once a Marine always a Marine.