In the past at OCS, candidates and their families have been totally separated, unable to communicate except through physical USPS mail. That distance and separation have been slowly chipped away over the years due to technology and evolving traditions.
Some time ago, Liberty periods enable candidates to call home on many weekends. In recent years, the mobile app Sandboxx enables families to quickly and conveniently send photos and letters to their candidates, but the fastest they would hear back is when the candidates used the attached pre-addressed envelopes.
Now, with little fanfare, the current class at OCS and MCRD Parris Island have been issued iPads once a week. Staff at OCS have declined to comment, but what is clear from military families is the sudden ability to video call home using FaceTime or Skype with base-wide wifi on Quantico. A source informed the blog that candidates have been encouraged to use communication apps only, although their time with the iPads is largely unsupervised. Some candidates and their staff reportedly call these hours “FunPad Time.”
Photos including selfies of candidates both training and goofing off after hours have appeared in a variety of unofficial Facebook groups. Inappropriate activity in one of these images has reportedly led to the dismissal of one candidate.
Veterans and Active Duty reactions across social media has been loud and swift in denouncing this new development. On the other hand, families and recruiters have mostly supported and clearly benefited from the new ability. Adele B., mother to a candidate, spoke out against the FunPads, saying “I had 18 long years listening to my son jabber at the dinner table. These ten weeks it’s the Marine Corps’ turn. It was going to be great. But then they go and give him an iPad and I can’t get a break.”
This update actually catches the Marine Corps up to other branches’ practices (such at the Army). Regardless, veterans we spoke to expressed dismay that such a change would compromise the shock value of training. Former Drill Instructor Donald Millar joked in a Facebook comment, “Just 1 more piece of gear for them to lose!”
Marine Corps officials previously described the changes as a “pilot program,” which would not be rolled out to every platoon this spring and summer. It’s unclear what metrics would lead to cancellation or continuation of the program.
Regardless, families, staff, and even candidates themselves, are surprised and trying to adapt to their current reality.
Have you received a skype call from your candidate yet? Do you have any more information we can share with families? Please comment below or use the comment form in the footer to supplement our information. Please help us update this page today, April First.
Our JAG buddies said to clarify for you–this is satire. Please don’t reach out to the command.