Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has emphasized that reunions are an important tool in curbing suicides, and now the Corps has launched a website to help currently serving Marines and veterans keep connected.
The "Year of the Reunion" website is meant to help Marines organize reunions and announce upcoming events, Neller said in a recent message to the Corps.
"We learn, share, mourn, celebrate, and protect each other by coming together and telling stories," Neller said in ALMAR 006/17. "Reunions, and the connections strengthened by them, offer an environment in which we are reminded of who we are."
The website is meant to provide a template to help arrange the logistics and planning for reunions, Neller wrote in the message. He also encouraged Marines and veterans to post photographs, anecdotes and after-action reports from their reunions on the website.
"I ask all Marines to get connected," Neller said in the message. "Find your fellow Marines. Reach out, catch up, and when needed, help others. While hosting a reunion may be a complicated undertaking, I know Marines are up to that task."
Last year, Neller told Marine Corps Times that reunions offer currently serving Marines and veterans an opportunity to share their stories. He praised the April 2016 reunion of 3
marines — which lost 25 Marines during its 2011 deployment to Afghanistan — as a model that other units could follow.
"Other units have been in tough fights and they’ve come back and they’ve had a significant number of Marines take their lives," Neller said in a May 17 interview. "This battalion has had two [suicides]."
Reunions allow Marines to relive the sense of camaraderie they experienced when they served together, he said. Sharing experiences is an age-old tradition common to warrior cultures.
"The old men tell their stories of war — the young warriors listen and they learn and they get ready mentally for what they’re going to face," Neller said. "History teaches us a lot of things."