Meet CJ Scarlet, a First Marine Mom

Today, we’re meeting CJ Scarlet: former Marine, mother of two sons, and co-founder of Roving Coach International.

CJ Scarlet, co-founder of Roving Coach International

CJ, what’s your hometown, and when did you join the Marines? Can you tell us a little about why you joined, what MOS you held, and when you left the Marines?

My hometown was Mena, Ark., although I was born on a Marine Base (Camp Pendleton). I joined the Corps in 1981 and left for boot camp on my 20th birthday. I grew up surrounded by Marines—my father, twin brother, brother-in-law were all Marines. It was natural for me to join. My MOS was 4321—Photojournalist. I was medically discharged from the Corps in January 1986.

When were you pregnant and where were you stationed during your pregnancy?

I was a corporal at Camp Pendleton, Calif., when I became pregnant in July 1983 with my first son. My second son was born after I was discharged.

What was your greatest struggle while being pregnant as a Marine? Were you given any special consideration for your condition? For example, were you dismissed from standing in formation for inspections?

My greatest struggle was being taken seriously, i.e., that I could still do my job effectively. I don’t believe I was given special consideration, with the exception of the time off I was granted prior to and following the birth of my son.

What did you think of the new maternity uniform?

I loved it and wanted to wear it right away, so I stuck my relatively flat stomach out as far as it would go so they would issue it to me! It was humongous on me at first; I’m sure I looked quite ridiculous.

Did you decide to breastfeed, or did you decide not to breastfeed because of the need to return to Marine Corps duty in six weeks? If you continued to breastfeed, were there particular challenges to the process because you were a Marine?

I did decide to breastfeed at first, but found it difficult. In addition, a captain (Sarah Fry) in our office tried to breastfeed and found that she leaked in her uniform, a problem that led her to be remonstrated by Lt. Col. {Gale} Stienon. That made me fearful and wary of the experience.

What were your greatest challenges during that era of being a First Marine Mom? Do you feel moms today, Marines or civilians, have the same  problems?

My greatest challenge was the pull of my duties versus my desire to be an involved mom. I do feel that moms today carry an even heavier burden, now that they can be deployed without their children, which was not the case when I was in the Corps.

CJ with her boys during the 1980s

If the woman you are today could speak in the ear of the woman she was in the 1980s, what would you whisper to her?

GREAT question!!! I would tell myself not to take flak from anyone! In a way I felt like I had to apologize for being a woman in a predominantly male field, and I was given some special considerations (like not being allowed to deploy to combat zones) that caused my male counterparts to express disapproval. I actually felt a little guilty as a result. I would advise my younger self to be bold and confident and remind her that she is perfect just as she is!

Can you tell us a little about Roving Coach International? As a former Marine, do you find certain skills you gained as a Marine helpful in your business? Can you share a little about this?

Roving Coach International is a multi-national company that makes coaching available to employees at all levels—not just to the big dogs! I chose to become a coach and start this company for a number of reasons, but one that stands out is my recognition, first gained in the Marine Corps, that young future leaders need more support. I was promoted early and often, putting me in a position where I had more responsibilities and expectations than I was prepared for. I wish I had had a coach when I was a corporal. I think it would have made me a better, more assertive and confident Marine. The leadership skills I gained while in the Marines have absolutely served me as CEO of this company. With six staff members and 50 coaches under my “command,” I find myself relying on old skills, combined with the wisdom I have gained since, to lead my team.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about being a First Marine Mom?

That’s all I can think of for now. Thank you so much for the opportunity to tell part of my story. You rock!

Thank you, CJ, for your service, and for sharing your story.

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About Tracy Crow

I was one of the first Marine moms. Today, I'm the nonfiction editor at Prime Number Magazine, and teach journalism and creative writing at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. My memoir, Eyes Right: Confessions from a Woman Marine, will be released in April 2012 by the University of Nebraska Press.
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One Response to Meet CJ Scarlet, a First Marine Mom

  1. CJ Scarlet says:

    This is great! Thank you so much for featuring me! CJ

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