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Marine Corps pulls subsidy for MCCS programs

Jun. 6, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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The weekly haircut is a ritual for male Marines. Headquarters Marine Corps has signed a contract with one company to provide barbershop services at Marine Corps installations. As a result, a price increase is expected.
The weekly haircut is a ritual for male Marines. Headquarters Marine Corps has signed a contract with one company to provide barbershop services at Marine Corps installations. As a result, a price increase is expected. (Cpl. Joseph Marianelli/Marine Corps)
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Marines and their families can expect new fees for on-base recreation activities and a more expensive weekly trip to the barbershop, thanks to ongoing budget cuts required by sequestration.

In a Thursday missive to Marines, their families and civilians working at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., the commanding officer, Col. Mitch Cassell, warned that life on base will be changing.

“With sequestration and other budget cutting, Headquarters Marine Corps no longer has the resources to continue subsidizing (Marine Corps Community Services) recreational services, which includes things like family swimming pools, theaters, bowling alleys, marinas, hobby shops, and other recreation programs; services that have been provided to Marines and their families for years at little or no cost,” he wrote in an open letter.

Because most of these recreational services operate at a loss, he added, the Marines have no choice but to eliminate the programs or restructure them. Aboard New River, Cassell said, officials are choosing to restructure, adjusting manpower and adding or increasing service fees.

One example of such restructuring, he said, can be seen at on-base barbershops. Up to now, MCCS has controlled barbershops, contracting with local barbers to provide the service, but HQMC has signed a global contract that will place them all under the purview of a single private company.

“With privatization of barbering services, the price of haircuts will necessarily increase, but quality of service will not go down,” Cassell said. “For other services that may have to incur modest fee hikes, it is my sincere hope that these new pricing standards will help keep our services operating and eliminate the need to shut down some of our recreational programs.”

Cassell said he “felt the heartache” of new fee hikes on popular family services, but warned that more belt-tightening is on the way.

“Keep in mind, this is just the beginning of the long-term impact of recent budget cuts,” he said.

Marine Corps Community Services has been tight-lipped for months about how sequestration would affect its operations. According to Cassell’s statement, a review of other MCCS programs is ongoing at Headquarters Marine Corps and could result in more restructuring and cuts. Other programs overseen by MCCS include the single Marine program, training and resources for special-needs military children, counseling services, job search assistance, large base events, and sports leagues, to name a few.

Marine Corps Times reached out to MCCS for comment and with additional inquiries about Cassell’s announcement, and has yet to receive a response.

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