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What is the proper way to represent in popular press the status of a commissioned officer of the United States Marine Corps. who is not retired, has a continuing service commitment, but is no longer active for duty?

Possible example:

Joe Smith is a Officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Unlike all other branches of service Marine officers are commissioned, by both custom and law, for life. Logically the above is accurate it just sounds incorrect.

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I would imagine that would count as his being in the corps, though if not then he would certainly still be an officer of the corps. I'm not sure though, so I'm just giving this comment as a suggestion. –  Jon Hanna Feb 20 '13 at 19:51
    
Do you know the title of the officer? Captain John Smith, a Marine Corps reservist... might work for the body of a news article. As for the headline, which is more important, the fact that he's in the reserves or that he is an officer? What does being commissioned for life have to do with the premise? –  Adam Feb 20 '13 at 20:29
    
In proper military address reserve officers of the US armed forces whose commision has expired are not called officers they are to be described as "former officers". Regular officers, that is those who graduated from an accademy and any officer appointed to the O-4 grade or higher are to be described as "officers" as long as their commission remains (which in most cases now is life), but a Marine Reserve Officer's commission never expires without regard to rank. –  OCDtech Feb 20 '13 at 21:08
    
The Navy has some similar peculiarities regarding warrant officers. Is the distinction only relevant in military/maritime circles? –  OCDtech Feb 20 '13 at 21:39
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closed as off topic by MετάEd, Kristina Lopez, tchrist, Robusto, simchona Feb 21 '13 at 4:42

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1 Answer

Your question is a bit confusing.

What is the proper way to represent in popular press the status of a commissioned officer of the United States Marine Corps. who is not retired, has a continuing service commitment, but is no longer active for duty?

This seems to indicate a person who still has a commitment to the Corps, but is not active duty. That would be a reserve, and they are still members and retain their rank.

However this sentence:

Unlike all other branches of service Marine officers are commissioned, by both custom and law, for life.

makes it sound like you're talking about someone who has stopped serving, but because of some special USMC rule haven't "retired" per se.

USMC servicemen do not retain rank when retiring in terms of authority. They are encouraged to use the "Once a Marine, Always a Marine" mindset; they're often accorded the personal respect their former title held and are not discouraged from using their old rank for formal stylizing - but they're certainly not Marines in the eyes of the government.

If you're looking for a stylistic guideline for writing, check this out: Veteran Marines. It's not an absolute standard that everyone would agree with, but it's an acceptable reference point.

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Unfortunately that segment at Wikipedia doesn't address the question, although I appreciate the reference. Your description of reserve is not accurate. Whether an officer is active duty has nothing to do with being a Reserve Officer. Although the Military Authorization Act directed the President to one-time grant a regular commission to all active duty officers. Your comment, "they're certainly not Marines in the eyes of the government" is not accurate. The National Security Act defines the term Marine extends it, "...until death or dishonorable separation." My question remains. –  OCDtech Feb 20 '13 at 21:34
    
@OCDtech I just read the National Security Act of 1947, your quote is not present, nor is there any reference to retirement of Marines at all. –  Marcus_33 Feb 21 '13 at 13:21
    
To the best of my knowledge, the National Security Act does not deal with retirement. I'm don't understand why you're concerned about retirement. Someone who is retired is an officer. My question is limited to those persons who are not retired. –  OCDtech Feb 21 '13 at 13:56
    
@OCDtech The Act you refer to says nothing about "death or dishonorable separation" nor anything remotely close to it. It also doesn't talk about special rank situations just for the Marines. I think you're mistaking self-perpetuated USMC mythology with actual legal status. –  Marcus_33 Feb 21 '13 at 14:06
    
After a lot of phone calls I finally got a definitive answer from Maj. Connolly at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He said it makes little difference in the popular press, as the public has little understanding of military custom or the caveats of law. To be accurate, however, all officers should be addressed by grade, not billet, regardless of status. Additionally, all personnel who have a current obligation, regardless of status, should be described as officers, because under law they remain delegates of the President. –  OCDtech Mar 7 '13 at 14:40
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