Marine Corps Base Quantico commander Col. Michael Brooks detailed the base’s efforts to build relationships with surrounding counties and identified challenges in filling job openings on base during a roundtable discussion last week.
The base is home to about 30,000 people a day, with a mix of active-duty personnel, civilian contractors and visitors. According to Brooks, the base contributes just below $6 billion a year across Fauquier, Stafford and Prince William counties in the form of salaries, contracts and building on base.
“We do have a significant impact on the local economy,” Brooks said. “We consider ourselves, as Marine Corps Base Quantico, one of the leading employers throughout this region.”
Still, one major concern the base is facing is personnel shortages across a variety of positions.
“You name it, we’re getting a shortage in it,” Brooks said.
Some of the vacancies Brooks mentioned were for jobs that are essential to base operations such as high-voltage technicians, HVAC technicians, planners, engineers and early-childhood instructors.
The vacancies are a result of the base not being able to match wages offered in surrounding counties, according to Brooks.
“Our max pay is, usually when you go out in town, their starting pay,” Brooks said. “They come, they stay about a year, then they move on to greater opportunities. I can’t fault them for that, but it really makes it a little bit more challenging for us to keep people.”
Brooks praised the staff on base.
“The people that we have work really hard. Oftentimes, they work hours outside of their normal required time and they’re doing it because they want to do that and I want to be able to reward them for that,” he added. “But when you’re looking at our facilities…it takes a lot of money to sustain.”
Since Brooks took command in 2021, he said he has worked to build relationships with surrounding local leaders and school divisions and hopes those partnerships could provide candidates to fill job openings.
One potential partnership the base is exploring is with Northern Virginia Community College to screen students coming into early-childhood development and HVAC technician fields to gauge their interest in working on the base after completing their programs.
The base is also looking to retain professionals in mental and behavioral health positions.
“I think everyone is experiencing some personnel shortfalls right now, especially in behavioral health,” Brooks said.
Similar to other positions, the base struggles to compete with wages offered elsewhere in the mental health field. However, Brooks noted that the base has recently been approved to offer pay raises to its mental and behavioral health professionals.
“That will help us recruit as well as retain those counselors that are currently working here, and hopefully soon to be working here, to ensure that we’re providing the mental health that our Marines and family members need,” he said.
Despite the job vacancies, Brooks says he is proud of the amount of work the team on base has accomplished.
“They’re working extremely hard despite our personnel shortages … That really makes me proud to see, just the amount of work we’re able to accomplish with what we have.”
Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.
© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.