Isabella Benson

Thanks to County Press for this:

Isabella Benson was just 10 years old when she saw the Lapeer County Young Marines marching in a parade and thought they looked cool. Her dad was a Marine, she said, and she wasn’t into dance or anything like that, so she decided she’d like to join and see what it was all about.

Now Benson, 16, is a staff sergeant, and about to promote to gunnery sergeant, and what’s more, she was recently named both battalion and regimental Young Marine of the Year.

The Young Marines have been around since 1959 and is now a national nonprofit youth education and service program for boys and girls. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral, and physical development of its members, and focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork, and self-discipline.

Isabella Benson

The program strengthens the lives of America’s youth by teaching the importance of self-confidence, academic achievement, honoring our veterans, good citizenship, community service, and living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle with a focus on character building and leadership and promoting a lifestyle that is conducive to being productive members of society.

Currently, Benson said, 15-20 kids who are somewhere between the age of eight and high school graduation meet once a week for two and a half hours at the American Legion in Lapeer. There, they participate in drills, classes, physical training, uniform inspections and more.

They do a lot of drug demand reduction efforts to raise awareness of common gateway drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, inhalants, prescription drugs and marijuana that are either in homes or neighborhoods and are most often encountered and easily accessed by children and young adults. The local Young Marines also do veterans appreciation work, including volunteering for Project Brotherhood Resolve and planting flowers at the veterans’ memorial. They also participate in events such as trunk or treats, the Fantasy Forest and more.

Isabella Benson

“We do a lot of parades and community service in general,” Benson said.

There are a few misconceptions about Young Marines, Benson said. People think it’s a recruiting strategy and that members are required to enlist, but that’s not true. It’s also not all military training or physical training. Rather, she said, it’s all about giving the members tools that will help them throughout their lives and relationships. However, if you reach the rank of sergeant in the Young Marines and do join the Marines or the Navy, you will receive an honorary promotion after boot camp to private first class.

Benson said she gets personal satisfaction from doing things that have an impact on other Young Marines as well as her community. She has attended leadership schools where she got to build relationships with other Young Marines and help instill the core values of teamwork, leadership, and discipline. She has attended a number of encampments and training schools where she learns life skills, such as time management, and has had the opportunity to meet some higher-ups in the Marines on one of her trips to Washington DC.

Isabella Benson

“You get to meet all these people that you wouldn’t usually meet,” she said.

Benson said she has always had an interest in the military, and as a junior at Lapeer High, her time in the Young Marines will come to an end all too soon. For now, though, she’s enjoying all it has to offer, and preparing for her future.

“Personally, I like drill,” she said. “There’s so much more to it than marching. There’s an art to it. A philosophy. You have to work as a team or else it doesn’t work.”

In fact, she said, “I’d like to become a drill instructor in the Marine Corps.”

“It’s something that can really change your perspective on life in general,” she said. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without this program.”

Brag Book on Isabella

Young Marines (Lapeer County chapter)


Young Marines
Isabella Benson

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