After Long Fight, Army Recruiter Is Released from Service So She Can Return to Marine Corps

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Marines stretch during a fitness program designed for pregnant service members at Camp Pendleton, California.
Marines stretch during a fitness program designed for pregnant service members at Camp Pendleton, California, Feb. 14, 2023. (Lance Cpl. Kristy Ordonez Maldonado/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

On Jan. 8, Gunnery Sgt. Julianna Pinder will don her Marine Corps combat utilities for the first time in nearly three years and report for duty to the U.S. Marine Corps after stopping first at Fort Carson, Colorado, to check out of the U.S. Army.

Pinder learned Dec. 29 that the Army had awarded her a much-desired separation so she could return to the Corps. The news arrived following Military.com reporting last month that chronicled Pinder's yearslong effort to rejoin the Marines after she was booted out for not meeting fitness standards following the birth of her second child.

"My paperwork got pulled from brigade and immediately got sent straight to the separation section in [Human Resources Command]. I didn't even get a REFRAD; I got a straight separation," said Pinder, referring to a release from active duty request. "The article had everything to do with it."

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For nearly the past three years, Pinder has served as an Army recruiter in Aurora, Colorado. She had joined the Army's Active Guard Reserve program in 2021 after being denied a request to reenlist for failing to meet height and weight standards after giving birth.

Four years shy of earning military retirement benefits, she fought to rejoin the Marine Corps, basing her argument for reenlisting on a discriminatory practice that punished her failure to meet the standards within nine months of having a child.

In 2018, Pinder received what the service calls a "Page 11," a negative counseling remark in a fitness report, for not meeting those standards after a doctor recommended she bolster her diet and limit exercise to produce sufficient breast milk for her baby.

After being denied reenlistment, Pinder appealed to the commandant at the time and then launched an extensive battle that involved the Board for Correction of Naval Records and the Federal Court of Appeals.

Last month, she won back the right to rejoin the Corps but then ran into roadblocks getting a speedy separation from the Army, needing a release that was delayed as a result of her status as an activated member of the Active Guard Reserve.

But, Pinder said during an interview Wednesday with Military.com, Army HRC came through in the nick of time, days before the Marine Corps' reenlistment offer expired.

"So I'm a Marine, or I should be today, which is my start date," Pinder said.

Pinder is currently on leave for the holidays. When she returns on Jan. 8, after she checks out of the Army, she will report for duty at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Metro East Aurora, next door to her old office at Army Recruiting Aurora.

A combat engineer who has served as a Marine Corps recruiter, she will stay at the recruiting station while she waits for orders. She is hoping to return to her old job and land an assignment in California. But for now, she's just happy to be back in the Corps, despite the reasons for her departure.

"The Army [was] welcoming. I've had a good time in the Army. It's just not the Marine Corps," Pinder said.

Related: Army Unveils New Parental Leave Policy After Long Debate on Denials

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