DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- Sergeant Lesley Reed, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation Delray Beach, Fla., is helping a future Marine officer along her path by doing what sergeants do best – lead.
At least twice a week, Reed meets with Candice Heizmann, an officer candidate from Fort Myers, Fla., to prepare her for the rigors of Officer Candidates School.
A graduate of Florida Atlantic University, Heizmann has already completed half of OCS through the Platoon Leaders Course in 2010.
While doing what she can to help, Reed said her focus is not only on the role Heizmann will play as an officer, but the reality of “being a small part of the Marines as a female and the dynamic it may play in her leadership.”
A lot is changing in the Corps for women. The commandant recently approved adding pull ups to the female physical fitness test and as the Corps looks to evaluate the role of women in combat, having a mentor like Reed could prove beneficial to Heizmann.
“It’s nice to have another female that understands what the Marines will expect of me,” said Heizmann.
The Marine Corps has more than 21,000 active duty officers and with women only making up 6 percent of that total, Heizmann said having a female mentor with experience in the Fleet Marine Force has been something she couldn’t get anywhere else.
“I feel that being the only female canvassing recruiter in our RS, I have a rare opportunity to mentor our future female Marines,” said Reed. “Most females that join never get the chance to actually talk to a female Marine until they start their training. I want to be able to answer any questions that maybe a male Marine might not be able to answer about being a female in the Marines.”
Every situation is an opportunity to teach Reed said. By integrating Heizmann into the rest of the enlisted pool, Reed mentors future Marines on both the responsibilities of leaders to subordinates and subordinates to leaders.
Since starting the training sessions, Heizmann says she has significantly increased her mental, moral and physical stamina, something she knows she will need. As the Corps continues to downsize, officer selection and training is getting more competitive. She knows the stakes all too well.
“It’s been two years since I first went to OCS,” said Heizmann, who is recovering from a knee injury. “Most people really lose a lot of motivation as you wait and it’s so competitive now that I’ve seen people drop out. You have to push that much harder because if you let yourself fall, you’ll be chewed up by the competition.”
Reed said training her future superior is a humbling responsibility.
“As Marines, we are all called to be leaders,” she said. “Rank is only an indicator of the authority we hold at a given time, so hopefully my guidance may reflect on candidate Heizmann and be present in her leadership.”