KOTZEBUE, AK. -- Throughout the United States, there are active duty Marines and Sailors who contribute to the continuous state of readiness of the military by instructing and assisting Selected Marine Corps Reserve units.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon J. Gilliam, a West Point, Georgia native, is one of these Sailors who supports his Reserve counterpart by serving on Inspector-Instructor duty.
Stationed in the hearts of communities, I&I staff ensure day-to-day operations at Reserve units run smoothly, as well as strive to keep the lines of communication open between active and Reserve Marines and Sailors. Those assigned to this duty are deemed to be highly proficient in their military occupational specialty and have the ability to work independently in the tasks ahead of them.
Gilliam is a command career counselor/dental assistant based out of Atlanta with 4th Dental Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, and is currently 26 miles above the Arctic Circle with his unit at Innovative Readiness Training Arctic Care 2018 in the Northwest Arctic Borough of the state of Alaska, April 13-27, 2018.
“This is my first IRT, so I am here mostly learning the process,” Gilliam said. “My duties focus primarily around command and control for this training, observing the mission and providing support if and when needed. My job is to make sure the service members walk away feeling fully trained.”
Gilliam joined the U.S. Navy in May of 2007 as a hospital corpsman. He wanted to better himself and knew that the military would provide endless possibilities for advancing his future.
“There are so many benefits to joining the military, but one that has impacted me the most is the education benefits,” Gilliam said. “I wanted to get my college degree, but the fear of student loans was always lurking over my head. Currently, I am finishing my degree through Arizona State University in public policy and it’s given me an extreme sense of accomplishment.”
Reserve Marines spend two weeks each year building their capabilities at an Annual Training exercise. This year, 4th Dental Battalion is conducting readiness training by providing dental care to 12 remote villages in the Northwest Arctic Borough. With the assistance of Gilliam and the rest of the I&I staff, the training ensures the service members are ready to activate whenever the nation calls.
“I am trying to take away all I can from this training,” Gilliam said. “Every obstacle can be used a learning experience and every accomplishment means we are doing our job. My goal is to understand all that goes in to an IRT so as I advance, I can instruct properly, because I have done it.”