Serious About Serving
Even in high school, Derrick Anderson was focused and disciplined. When he came to his mother and told her that he wanted to join the Marine Corps, he was prepared.
"He was serious," said Darlene Anderson, Derrick's mother. "He pulled out the paperwork. He showed me where he had signed up for what's called the Delayed Entry Program. So he had done all the research, was pretty confident and had already made that decision that that's what he wanted to do."
Several members of Darlene's family were in the Military, including two nephews in the Army and a sister and brother-in-law who retired from the Army. Part of the reason Derrick wanted to join the Marine Corps in particular was that no one else in his family had joined that branch of Service.
Staying in Touch During Basic Training
Given her family's background, Darlene wasn't completely surprised by Derrick's plans for the future, and she knew what to expect. She was also impressed by how Derrick's recruiter helped him prepare for Recruit Training, stayed in touch with her and did his best to answer her questions.
I saw my boy become a man. I could see the confidence.
While methods of keeping in touch vary from Service to Service, Darlene heard from her son soon after his arrival at Recruit Training. She explained, "When they first arrive for boot camp, they are allowed one phone call, and the phone call is very brief. They can only say, 'Hi, I'm here, and you'll get a letter from me soon.' " After what seemed like a very long month, Darlene was thrilled to finally receive her first full letter from Derrick.
Nothing could have changed the fact, however, that Darlene still missed Derrick terribly and worried about him while he was at Recruit Training. She said, "There was some anxiety during the time he was at boot camp. There's a long period of time before you have any contact with them." She admitted that, as soon as she had Derrick's address, "I would write three letters a day so he could have something to read when he had some downtime."
The limited contact was all worth it when Darlene saw Derrick at his graduation. Darlene smiled just thinking about what her son accomplished. She said, "I saw my boy become a man. I could see the confidence."
A Network of Military Mothers
After graduation, Derrick went on to Marine Combat Training, and he is now working as a paralegal at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Derrick was deployed twice to Iraq, and Darlene admitted that time was difficult for her — especially whenever she watched the news — but Derrick helped Darlene feel better. She repeated what Derrick told her about his work: " 'This is my job. We're trained for this. We know what to do.' "
When Derrick was deployed, Darlene was able to turn not just to her family but also to her peers — other military moms. "In the beginning," she said, "I had established relationships with a Marine mom support group. It was awesome for me. These mothers were very supportive. It makes a difference when you can speak to someone who really truly understands because they've gone through it or they're going through it themselves."
Darlene looks forward to what's next for her son and is confident that her son's Marine Corps training will be useful no matter what he chooses to do. She said, "The Military really helped him in his direction as far as his career path and what he would like to do for the future."