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Honoring the Military who Honor Nature

Brian Lionbarger, United States Marine Corps

Brian Lionbarger graduated from Norwich University and is currently in the Marine Reserves.

I graduated college in 2001, and immediately went to the Marine Corps Basic School in Quantico, VA. Regardless of what your Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in the Marines is going to be, you are given extensive classroom, field, and practical application training on such things as weapons and tactics to leadership. My MOS is financial management, because my degree was Business and I knew it was going to be a skill that would translate well to the civilian world. After all, I didn’t know how long I was going to be a Marine.

I ended up spending 10 years as an active duty Marine. My first duty station was at Camp Lejeune, NC, and I worked in a side of the Marine Corps that not many people think about. When you think “Marine,” you don’t think Finance Officer. But there is obviously a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes, and there is pride in managing budgets and making sure taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently. In 2005 I deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, for seven months and managed the funding for the Iraqi Security Forces in the Al-Anbar Province. This was the funding that was helping them stand up on their own – from necessary equipment to building their bases to life support contracts.

After 10 years of active duty, I transitioned to the Marine Reserves, and am now assisting other Marines with their transition to civilian life.

It’s surprising to me how much I see nature and the military intersect. At many of the bases that the USMC owns there are a lot of endangered species, and fragile natural areas. I remember certain parts of the beaches and woods that we couldn’t train in because of threats to the natural community. It’s a big part of the military – our bases are big places of land that we’re privileged to have, and that a lot of civilians never get to see. So it’s important that we preserve those areas – for nature in general, but also for our training.

I’m proud to be running for The Nature Conservancy in this year’s Marine Corps Marathon as part of Team Nature. This will be my first marathon and I’m excited for the physical challenge, as well as for the opportunity to support an organization that partners with the Department of Defense and ensures land for military training – and for people and nature – will exist in the future.

The views expressed above are those of the individual, and do not constitute an official policy statement of the Department of Defense.

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