Marine Corps Creates Billet to Keep Dual-Military Families Together During Stressful Moves

Military couple at promotion ceremony
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Wilson MenaGarcia, left, and Sgt. Kelly MenaGarcia, right, take a group photo after their promotion ceremony to sergeant at The National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Virginia, July 5, 2023. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joaquin Dela Torre)

The Marine Corps is creating a billet aimed at keeping dual-military families -- marriages where both spouses are service members -- together during moves to new duty stations.

The billet, which is called the dual-military coordinator, will act as a liaison between couples and their career monitors in an attempt to alleviate stress associated with orders assignments, which can result in families being separated from each other for extended periods of time. Such separations are a quality-of-life issue that can directly affect a Marine's decision to stay in the service.

Long periods of separation due to training and deployments or orders to new installations can mean military spouses have to change roles in the household, to include taking care of children, and reintegrate their family once the separated spouse returns, according to a recent paper from the Defense Technical Information Center, or DTIC.

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On top of long days, balancing employment for both spouses while taking care of a family under the shadow of uncertainty that military life often brings, spouse mental health and marriage satisfaction can decline, according to the study, which could result in a service member's decision to get out of the military.

That's where Staff Sgt. Nancy Acuna, the Marine selected to be the service's first and only dual-military monitor, comes in.

"I'm just very excited to help ... talented Marines stay in uniform because I know they often choose to get out because they feel like they don't have any other option," Acuna told in an interview Friday.

More than 8,600 Marines are married to another service member, according to the Marine Corps, and thousands of couples are ordered to new duty stations every year. Not only do those service members have to meet the needs of the service, they have to meet the needs of their family -- responsibilities that often conflict.

According to the DTIC study, that conflict can lead to decreased job performance, mental health issues, divorce, stress on children, and lower unit retention rates, among other issues. One of the major problems that contributes to those issues is a permanent change in station, or PCS, a military move in which service members are ordered to other units, sometimes around the world, which could leave another serving spouse and their family behind.

Part of Acuna's job is to work with troops and their career monitors to make sure that families can PCS together. Sometimes, dual-military service members have different jobs that are managed by different career monitors who don't always communicate with each other.

Part of Acuna's job is making sure that they do.

On top of that, she will report new marriages to administrative centers, manage requests for co-location for Marines wanting to stay together, and act as a resource for couples who may not know the steps needed to remain together.

"They think that they have to choose between the service or their family," Acuna said. "I'm excited to let them know that there's another option and that ... we're dedicated to keep[ing] them together, and they can still continue their career."

The Marine Corps said that Acuna's job will be activated by the summer. The program will "adapt" to the needs of Marines as it is evaluated, officials said Friday.

Related: Dual-Military Couples: Making Life Work

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