Everyone joins the Marine Corps for their own reasons. Some join to pursue higher education, support family, travel the world, or as a steppingstone for their professional career.
Gunnery Sgt. Mariah Hammond’s initial motive was the pursuit of college credentials, until she spoke to a Marine recruiter. After learning about a fundamental characteristic of the Marine Corps, she had a newfound purpose to enlist — to become a part an revered brother and sisterhood.
Hammond enlisted and began her journey at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in November 2011. After earning the title of U.S. Marine, she trained as a legal services specialist in Newport, Rhode Island, learning the roles, responsibilities, and complexities of the military’s legal arena. Upon graduation, she reported to her first duty station at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, Virginia.
“I experienced significant personal and professional growth because my leadership challenged and molded me, laying the foundation of who I am today,” Hammond said. “My leadership supported and encouraged me to be better each day. Whether that was going outside with me every single day to do pull-ups or allowing me the opportunity to attend Corporal’s Course as a lance corporal, I always felt cared for and set up for success.”
Hammond discovered the Marine Corps was a place where she could pursue multiple interests, she had her whole life.
From a young age, Hammond had a passion for sports, and that stayed with her even after entering the Marine Corps. Early in her career she participated in an intramural softball league that led to opportunities to play with the All-Marine and All-Armed Forces Women’s Softball teams. Years of play garnered her selections as co-captain and captain of the All-Marine Women’s Softball Team.
Physical fitness always played an instrumental role in Hammond’s daily routine, serving to de-stress from work and to improve herself. The dedication carried on to her second duty station MCB Camp Pendleton, California. However, injury and the responsibilities of raising a newborn shook up her world.
Not long after the birth of Hammond’s son, complications arose that required him to be hospitalized within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). That tumultuous period in Hammond’s life compounded when a sudden ankle fracture forced her to rely on crutches.
“I went from being really active, even when I was pregnant, to then recovering from surgery and being on crutches. I could not walk, and I was trying to take care of this newborn baby that had been in the NICU. I found myself in a really hard spot,” Hammond said.
Despite being in a tough place, Hammond didn’t find herself alone. The benefits of the Corps’ unique brother and sisterhood that drew her in years prior came to fruition. A fellow sergeant in her section stepped in and volunteered to take care of Hammond and her son while she recovered.
“I had someone in my office who moved in with me and said, ‘I am going to help you and I am going to take care of you,’” Hammond said. “I thought, wow, I will never be able to repay you for what you have done for me; and to this day, we are still friends. It was a very hard time to get through, but I feel really lucky.”
Recently, Hammond found an opportunity to step out of the familiarity of her primary military occupational specialty into something new and uniquely challenging. In September of 2021, she volunteered to become an Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
As an EOA, it is Hammond’s responsibility to ensure the service members of her unit and tenant commands have a clear and common understanding of Prohibited Activities and Conduct (PAC) and the corrosive effects such things have on the institution. She serves as a resource for service members seeking information regarding the complaint process and assists commanders in establishing an environment that maintains the Marine Corps’ highest standards of performance and conduct. Hammond handles all matters of PAC which include hazing, bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, prohibited discrimination, dissident and protest activities, and wrongful distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image. She is a representative Marines can confidently engage with while seeking help and guidance.
From stepping onto the yellow footprints at boot camp to present day, the Marine Corps has, without a doubt, impacted Hammond personally and professionally.
“The Marine Corps, as a whole, is what you make out of it. You can sit and expect things to come to you, or you can work hard and achieve the things you want,” Hammond said. “My first duty station really set the foundation for my career. I worked for, and was surrounded by, an amazing group of people. I worked hard and the work ethic I developed set the tone for my entire career.”
Hammond continues to play an active part in the brother and sisterhood of the Marine Corps. She also accomplished her original educational goals and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in management with a concentration in human resources. She is applying for a master’s degree in legal studies.
The opportunities and experiences she gained have made a positive impact on her life and will be with her forever.
|Date Posted:||09.15.2023 11:02|
|Hometown:||CHICAGO, IL, US|