Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Robert Hahn, 38, a Killeen, Texas, native and staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Recruiting Sub-station Huntington, West Virginia, speaks with Boone County Probation Officer Scottie Stowers, a Madison, West Virginia native, following a Veterans Appreciation Luncheon at the Boone County Courthouse in Madison, West Virginia (date). Boone County officials reached out to the Marines in an effort to reduce the number of at-risk youth in the community. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Caitlin Brink/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Caitlin Brink

West Virginia community reaches for Marine Corps help with youth

10 May 2015 | Sgt. Caitlin Brink 4th Marine Corps District

The U.S. Marines answered a community’s call for help [D1] [BSCM2] May 20, 2015, in Madison, West Virginia.

In an effort to better Boone County’s youth, Marines from local recruiting offices worked with probation officers to address ways that help at-risk youth realize the decisions they make now could affect the rest of their lives.

“Too often I see juveniles and young adults that have no direction or positive influence stand before me,” said Circuit Court Judge of the 25th Judicial Circuit William Thompson. “The absence of discipline and direction is the root of most of the problems I see day-to-day.”

Local law enforcement plans to expose teens to service members who live their lives according to codes of morality and ethics.

“They don’t see us as a way to deal with troubled youth, but more as mentors and positive role models.” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert Hahn, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Recruiting Sub-station Huntington, West Virginia. “Serving your country can leave an everlasting impact on an individual’s life.”

According to Madison probation officers, one of the biggest contributing factors to at-risk teens in the community is lack of positive influence in their lives.

“Many of their parents are addicts and don’t work or provide comfortable lifestyles,” said Stacia Roberts, a school based probation officer and Madison, West Virginia, native. “These parents aren’t pushing education or even jobs … [D3] Children learn by example.  If there aren’t people like me and you to be the example, who will?”

“When I became a probation officer, I was oblivious to many of these problem. I knew there was poverty and drug addicts and broken homes, etc., but I never realized it was this bad,” she[D4]  said.

 The county has programs about laws in place to help educate students in Boone County’s 15 schools about what could land them behind bars. These programs are meant to intervene before students become part of the court system. [D5] According to Roberts, the programs work, but only if students are willing to abide by the rules set before them.

“They end up making bad choices without realizing how bad they are,” said Roberts, 27, who handles after school programs for at-risk students. “It isn’t until they try to further their future that they realize the choices they made when they were 15 will affect them.  In our luncheon, I used the example of kids getting tattoos on their hands or neck.  I’m sure they are so cool to their peers with stars tattooed on their hands. But to employers or military, it’s frowned upon.” 

Hahn, a 38-year-old Killeen, Texas, native and his Marines plan to visit with local law enforcement multiple times a month to plan school talks on preparing for a successful future as well as opportunities available in the military.

“So many kids get stuck here in a rut after graduation,” said Roberts. “I just want the kids in our town to have as many options to be successful as possible.”[D6] 

Together, the Marines and the law enforcement in Boone County plan to open doors for the community’s youth through core values and leadership talks and by integrating an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery preparatory-course into the high schools.

“At the end of the day if we can steer one young man or woman in the right direction we have made a difference,” said Hahn. “By starting with the kids you will see second and third order effects in the community down the road.”

 [D1]Removed him from the lead because he doesn’t really have much to do with the content of the story.

 [D3]Leans pretty hard on the socio-political commentary here. Not sure we want to align the MC with a blame game statement. Might be better omitted with ellipsis and left implied.

 [D4]I’m assuming Stacia is a she…?

 [D5]Maybe split into two sentences. The first one discussing the program’s existence and intent. The second one explaining target audience and method. Otherwise, there’s a lot of potential info that gets rushed through.

 [D6]Condense redundant statements for brevity. Select just a portion of this.

4th Marine Corps District