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Madison Young Marines strengthening lives of America’s youth

The Huntsville-Madison County EMA is hoping to upgrade the warning system in place now from being county-wide to more area-specific.

The Young Marine program is a non-profit 501(c)3 Youth Education and Service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school.

The Young Marine Program is run by its Senior Young Marines with guidance from registered adult staff leaders.

They are part of a National Organization, with their headquarters located in Washington, D.C.

The Young Marines’ mission is to positively impact America’s future by nurturing and developing their members into responsible citizens who promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle while focusing on character-building and leadership skills. They are taught core values of honor, courage and commitment, as well as respect and self-discipline. They promote the mental, moral and physical development, the importance of honesty, courage, respect, loyalty, dependability and a sense of devotion to God, country, community and family.

The program is not a recruiting tool for the U.S. Armed Forces.

The Madison Young Marines Unit Commander is former Marine Sgt. Nathan Beard of the Madison Police Department. Beard has been with Madison Police Department since 2002.

“We’re excited to offer the youth of our area a new opportunity to grow in leadership, self-worth and community responsibility,” Beard said.

The Young Marine program requires a minimum of three hours of Drug Demand Reduction classes per quarter. The Young Marines are the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps’ youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts and America’s largest youth drug demand reduction program. The Young Marines depend on grants, fundraisers and donations for their financial support.

The Madison Alabama Young Marine Unit was spearheaded by Judy Pettus of Madison and mom of Sgt. Mitchell Stease of the North Alabama Young Marine Unit for more than five years.

“This is an awesome program that has opened many doors for Mitchell,” Stease said. “He just got back from an eight-day National Senior Leadership School in Virginia. This is just one of the many opportunities that the Young Marines National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. provide these Young Marines every year.”

Other programs include training in areas such as survival skills, wilderness training, and water-based activities.  This allows Young Marines the opportunity to get together and train as a large unit of up to 700 youth at a time. More than 3,000 Young Marines participate in these programs each year. For the past two years, the Young Marines have traveled to Parris Island to train with the USMC recruits.

“We kept getting asked about the program from people in surrounding areas of Madison that were not able to attend the program in Huntsville because of the drive or their work schedule,” Pettus said.  “I talked with Mayor Finley, Chief Muncey and Chief Cobb and all were very receptive of having a Young Marine Program in Madison. It would not have been possible without their support. Hopefully, other areas will have the interest to open a Young Marine Unit in their Community, and the Madison Alabama Young Marine Adult Staff are here to help them in doing so.”

The Madison Alabama Young Marines will conduct their very first boot camp Aug. 1 – 5 from 7 a.m. to1:30 p.m. at the new Police Training Facility. The cost of the one-week boot camp is $185, which includes a camouflage uniform, a cover, a belt, boots, boot blousers, a National Young Marine T-shirt, patches, ribbon, a basic handbook and training materials. Young Marine regular drills will be on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon at 100 Hughes Road in Madison. For more information on Young Marines Program or Registered Adult Leaders visit the national website at Youngmarines.com or the Madison Alabama Young Marines’ website at Orgsites.com/al/youngmariness/. For more information or to sign up for the boot camp, contact Mitchell C. Stease at (256) 797-3676 or (256) 325-2915 or e-mail youngmarines.stease@gmail.com (deadline to sign up is July 23).

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