Tampa Bay Young Marines is the local chapter of the national non-profit organization Young Marines. The group’s mission is to invest in the education and inspire service of the local youth. The program is open to boys and girls ages eight years old through high school students.

Young Marines mentor youth members in the value of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline through monthly activities and meetings led by trained adult volunteers. The goal is to teach kids how to live a strong, independent, healthy drug-free life.

Brian Frank is the Unit Commander for the local chapter. He served as an active duty Marine for 20 years. He describes the program as “loosely based on some of the US Marines standards, such as Drill and Ceremonies.”

When asked why this organization is important to him, he said he felt a sense of responsibility. “I feel that as a nation we are falling short in preparing young women and men to be the future leaders of the country. The Young Marine program is preparing the next generations to be leaders in our community and in the military, should they so decide to do so.”

Young Marines focuses on self-accountability. Leaders in the organization have witnessed a change in kids who were struggling at school academically or with behavior issues and sometimes both. Although their organization is not for troubled kids, their program does help youth find their focus and purpose with friends they can count on.

A new Young Marine recruit can expect to receive 26 hours of training. More senior Young Marines run the drill periods under supervision of registered adult volunteers. They will also participate in physical training, close order drills, Drug Demand Reduction, and basic Young Marine knowledge.

Tampa Bay Young Marines meet from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the second and fourth Saturdays each month at the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) 7504 Riverview Dr., in Riverview.

For information, contact the Unit Commander at brian.frank@youngmarines.com or check out the website at www.youngmarines.com.