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Parris Island reaches out to extended family of new Marines

Published: Feb. 2, 2012 at 11:24 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2012 at 4:53 PM EST
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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Nearly 20,000 Marines graduate from boot camp on Parris Island every year. Each week, family and friends from all over the country travel to the Lowcountry to cheer them on at Family Day followed by graduation Friday morning. Now, Parris Island is offering an extended family day on Wednesdays, adding an extra day to festivities.

The Commandant of the Marine Corps has redefined the Marine Corps family and has now broadened it to include the whole extended family. So now, Parris Island is inviting the families of the new Marines to come a day earlier to really give them more information about the Marine Corps and what to expect.

After 13 weeks of boot camp, family and friends finally get to see their new Marines march in for the start of what's called Family Day on Parris Island.

After a brief ceremony, they are reunited once again.

"It's exciting," said Bill Phillips, Cleveland, Ohio. "I can't tell you how much we've missed him."

To help these families learn more about the Marine Corps, Parris Island is now offering an extended Family Day on Wednesdays.

"We're reaching out to the extended families which means, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, grandparents," said Gary Cassevah, Marine Corps Community Services Director. "We're reaching out to them to bring them into the Marine Corps fold."

In Marine Corps 101, these families are learning all about the history and culture of the Marine Corps, as well as the programs and services available to their new Marine.

"As we teach the families this, they kind of become advocates for the Marine Corps in helping their son or daughter or whoever the relative is, understand what's available to them," said Cassevah.

It's a program, many new Marine families are excited about.

"We wanted to find out exactly what he was going through because you have no contact and we wanted to know what it was like here in this environment," said Paula Easterbrook, Orlando, Fla.

Bringing families into the area one day earlier means good news for local businesses. The Hilton Garden Inn says 80 percent of their business on Wednesday and Thursday is generated by Marine graduation.

"I think it will definitely be a positive impact," said Tara Anderson. "I think it will be beneficial for all local business, restaurants and hotels."

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