Once a Marine, always a Marine
Jenni Biesheuvel did not grow up with intentions of joining the Marines, or any branch of the military for that matter. However, as a young adult, when someone told her that she wouldn’t make it as a Marine, it sparked a fire within her.
Biesheuvel grew up in a patriotic family. It seemed that almost everyone was involved in either law enforcement or the military in some aspect. Her father had served as a military policeman for three years in the Army before going full-time into law enforcement. However, he was not the greatest influence when it came to her career choices.
“I grew up in the time of CHIPs and Charlie’s Angels on TV,” laughs Biesheuvel, saying the shows she watched were probably what made her want to enter law enforcement at a young age.
In high school, she was a member of the local Law Enforcement Explorers program, which led her to major in criminal justice in college. While she loved the classes that focused on criminal justice, she didn’t like college. It was a struggle to work full-time and take full-time classes, and she didn’t feel like she was getting anywhere.
A friend, with whom she had been in Explorers, joined the Marine Corps Reserves, and Biesheuvel thought it may be a good fit for her, too. The Marines she knew held themselves to a higher standard.
“I wanted that, and I knew it would benefit me in law enforcement,” she said.
When her boyfriend’s dad, a Marine, told her being a Marine was not for her, it only pushed her harder.
She walked into a recruiter’s office, signed on the line and took the plunge. She says she still believes it was her best decision.
Biesheuvel dropped out of college and left for boot camp on her 20th birthday. Because she was a little older than most of the girls who joined right out of high school, she had a hard time getting along with them, but she laid low and did well.
Physically, Biesheuvel was ready and prepared for basic training. She was a swimmer and already very fit. As for the mental aspect of basic, she kept in mind that the yelling wasn’t personal or real. It was just part of the process. She kept telling herself, “Just do what you’re told. It’s imperative if you’re in combat.”
After 13 weeks of basic, Biesheuvel was trained in 29 Palms, Calif. as a communication center operator. She wanted to be a military policeman, but didn’t qualify because of her vision.
Her first duty station was Okinawa, Japan. She was fortunate to have a curious roommate, and the two of them explored the country together. They made friends with a local who showed them around, and Biesheuvel loved experiencing life and culture there.
After a year, she was sent to Pendleton, Calif. When her tour ended, she switched from full-time Marine to the Marine Reserves, and later to National Guard. Once a Marine, always a Marine though, and Biesheuvel says that it is so much of who she is that she can not separate it from her identity.
“I would be a different person if I wasn’t a Marine,” says Biesheuvel.
She says the Marines gave her confidence. The Corps taught her to push past what she was comfortable with, and she feels like there is nothing she can’t do if she applies herself. Though she had always been a natural leader, it also taught her the importance of leading by example and made her better.
Because the Marine Corps is smaller and steeped in so much tradition, Biesheuvel says the Marines are a little tighter-knit and have a different mentality.
“I can pick out the Marines in a room full of veterans because they carry themselves with a different kind of pride,” she says.
Jenni Biesheuvel and her husband, also a Marine, moved to Texas years ago and have been pleasantly surprised with how well Texas cares for and honors their veterans.
She now works for the U.S. courts and continues to serve the Marine community as a paymaster for the Marine Corps League.
Biesheuvel is fiercely patriotic and proud to be an American. It flows from her heart and is ingrained in every fiber of her body and soul. She encourages all young people to consider joining the military because it changes your perspective.
“When you travel to other countries, not only enjoying the good parts on vacation, you realize we are incredibly blessed in this nation. The military makes you appreciate those freedoms,” she says.