BILLINGS — They march in lines and take orders, but these might not be the soldiers you expect.
The Billings Young Marines is a youth program teaching some of the basics of being a soldier, and what it means to serve.
For six-year-member Young Marine Staff Sgt. Bradley Confer, he now applies lessons in leadership to teach others.
“You’re not going to come here and get screamed at constantly about everything that you do, whether it's not up to standards. We break it down and we teach you. We understand that everybody learns different ways so we’ll find those ways that people learn and we’ll train you,” Confer said.
He is a junior at West High School and planning to enlist right after he graduates.
They’re training themselves while encouraging others to live a drug-free, healthy lifestyle at the annual Drug Demand Reduction 5k Dash.
The group of about 12 members is preparing to host their annual run on Oct. 28 in Billings. The event is from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“I mean at the end of the day, sure its run, but its run for a good cause. So, we really try to have as many people as we can there to show there are people that strive for other people,” Confer said.
Drug demand reduction work is important to them but also creates one of Young Marine Sgt. Rebeca Floyd’s biggest challenges.
“Public speaking, I think, because this program really encourages talking to people about drug demand reduction and trying to get people to join this program or see the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle,” Floyd said.
She’s a junior at Skyview High School and planning to join the Marine Corps right after graduation.
Adult volunteer leaders like Nikole Van Nice shape Young Marines in part through public service projects. She is an Army military spouse.
“Even with the young ones, and the ones that have come from right at the beginning, at eight, you see them be a lot more respectful. You see the teacher say, ‘I just can’t believe,’ ya know. Fitness-wise, we see them, we have a lot that are in cross country and are just excelling. It's amazing to watch,” she said.
The Young Marines help young people take their next steps even if they don’t want to enlist after high school. The organization is a nonprofit and hope to raise $10,000 from the Drug Demand Reduction 5k Dash to support their programming.
“Being that I only have about a year and a half left in this program, it starts to count down on to me. I just really want to carry on my family’s legacy and be able to help others because at the end of the day that is what I’m here for and that’s what I like to do,” Confer said.
Check out more race day details and sign up at this link.