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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni is a mission-ready air station, capable of providing continuous base-operating support for tenant organizations and follow-on U.S. and allied forces during training, combat or contingency (HA/DR) operations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
Marines, sailors give troubled youth positive reinforcement, help

By Lance Cpl. Vanessa Jimenez | | December 15, 2011

Marines and sailors with Marine Aircraft Group 12, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 and Strike Fighter Squadron 94 volunteered in a community relations event at the Guam Department of Youth Affairs, a correctional facility for troubled youth, Dec. 10, as part of a monthlong deployment to the region.

The purpose of the event was to enhance camaraderie, unit cohesion and give back to the community.

The children were excited to see the Marines and sailors, and the Marines and sailors in turn were excited to help and interact with DYA clients.

“Today our Marines and sailors came to the youth detention center here simply to interact with these kids by playing volleyball, basketball, football, eating lunch with them, talking to them and mentoring them,” said Cmdr. Dean Hoelz, MAG-12 deputy chaplain. “The purpose of doing this event is to give back to the community on our off time and try to give these kids some positive reinforcement.”

After a day of games, everyone sat down to fill their stomachs with lunch provided by DYA.

“I hope the kids are able to learn camaraderie, teamwork, team building and trust through this visit,” said Thomas Talavera, DYA corrections officer.

The interaction is beneficial for children who are incarcerated and isolated from the rest of society.

“I think the most important thing we’re hoping the kids get out of this is they realize there are people out there who care,” said Talavera. “These people aren’t here to judge, but to support them to stay out of this place.”

The mission of the DYA is to improve the quality of life on Guam for all people by the development and implementation of programs and services, which promote youth development, decrease juvenile delinquency and status offenses, strengthen the family unit and communities of juvenile offenders, protect the public from juvenile delinquents, ensure offenders are held accountable for their actions, are provided with appropriate treatment, and provide restitution to the victims.

DYA clients have committed many different crimes, whivh have caused them to be incarcerated. Their ages range from 10 to 19-year-olds and the majority of offenses committed are alcohol and drug related according to DYA leadership.

“The community and parents need to realize we need to control alcohol and drugs a little better,” said Talavera. “Society needs to take a step back and give these kids a break. They’re not evil, they just made mistakes.”

At the DYA, leadership hopes to teach children how to obey laws to keep them from coming back to the facility in the future.

“I want the kids to learn to respect themselves,” said Talavera. “Once the kids are able to respect themselves and realize what it is they’re respecting about themselves, everything else about following rules and respecting the law will fall into place.”

Talavera also believes it is beneficial for DYA clients to have Marines and sailors visit to help with team building.

“This is a big help for them, this benefits them because they’re all getting along,” said Talavera. “I think the fact that they’re working in teams, shows they’re learning team building skills.”

The visit isn’t just beneficial for DYA clients. Marines and sailors are also receiving a rewarding experience.

“It feels good to know we’re boosting these kids’ morale,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Perez, a MALS-12 aircraft maintenance support equipment electricians/refrigeration mechanic.

The DYA encourages not only Marines and sailors to volunteer in the future, but also hopes the community finds the opportunity to volunteer and support the troubled youth of Guam.