ENNIS — Even after their tours have ended, Marines seek a purpose and means to make a difference. With those desires still burning, local Marines Corps veterans are forming a new Marine Corps League (MCL) detachment in Ennis that will serve Veterans from Ellis County and the surrounding rural areas.

"The Marine Corps League was one of the earliest established Veterans Organizations, organized by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, then Major General John A. Lejeune in June 1923, and chartered by an Act of Congress in August 1937," reads an MCL press release.

The Ennis detachment is holding an organizational meeting to provide details and to solicit charter members Saturday, Jan. 14 from 11 am – 12:30 pm at IHOP, located at 111 I-45 in Ennis.

According to the MCL press release, membership is authorized for any Marine, qualified Fleet Marine Forces Navy Corpsmen or FMF Navy Chaplain who was "honorably discharged with a minimum of 90 consecutive days served if active duty or 90 reserve retirement credit points if the reserves." Those currently serving on active duty or in the reserves are also eligible. MCL notes that a certificate of service or DD-214 will suffice and is required for proof of eligible service for veterans and current military documentation is needed if currently serving.

"This detachment will bring together Veterans of all eras into a community non-profit Veterans Service Organization that will allow us to be there for each other and our families," said Detachment Organizer Robert Bell. "We will also be able to serve the communities that we represent with many of the benefits that Marines obviously provide, such as leadership skills and motivation that Marines are famously known for. One of the many issues service members transitioning from military service face is losing the structure and closeness of their brothers and sisters in arms."

On Oct. 19, Richard D. Gore, Sr., National Commandant of the Marine Corps League, issued a challenge and statement to all Marines on the MCL's website.

"It is time for us to once again reflect upon our past and look into the future of America’s “911” fighting force. We should remember those Marines who preceded this day," Gore said. "For 241 years, the tenacity and courage of Marines who defended the Constitution of our Country and the freedoms of our way of life have remained strong and continue to be steadfast in today’s world of conflict and strife.

"We were trained to uphold the values of our “Corps” and as we grow older that training becomes more ingrained and does not weaken. We will forever support our “Brother and Sister” warriors because that is what we do. Not only do we honor our veterans but we pay them the ultimate compliment by remembering them for what they are, “United States Marines!" As our 241st birthday approaches, we should remember that we are the keepers of our Marine heritage. We will forever retain our love of God, Country, and Corps.

“Semper Fi, and hold our banner on high"

The MCL release notes that the creation of this MCL detachment will have a personal impact for our communities, through:

The Marines Helping Marines (Wounded Marines Program) that helps support injured Marine Corps personnel in our area. The Marine-4-Life support program where League members work with the M4L program providing needed mentors in the area and to help Marines in transition receive needed services. The Toys-For-Tots program where the League takes the lead in supporting the Marine Corps Reserves efforts to raise funds, collect and distribute toys to needy children. Preserve the history of the Marine Corps and to observe the anniversaries of historical occasions of particular interest to Marines with ceremonies and programs. For those interested in joining the detachment as a charter member, plan on attending the Jan. 14 meeting and contact Robert Bell, Detachment Organizing Officer, for additional information.