Master Sgt. Julius D. Spain, Sr., Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall's battalion adjutant chief will be climbing an important hill on Oct. 1 ... Capitol Hill to be exact. Spain was selected in March as one of the two staff noncommissioned officers in the Marine Corps for the 2011 Marine Corps Congressional Fellowship Program. He will be assigned to the Office of Legislative Affairs for a three year tour of duty.
Spain, a native of Conway, S.C., said he is honored to be one of two Marines selected for the program.

Having served in a variety of assignments in the Marine Corps over the last 20 years, including special assignment with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, supporting two U.S. three-star posts in Brussels, Belgium, and representing the U.S. Delegation to NATO, during his 20 years in service, Spain feels confident he is a good candidate for the fellowship.

''I feel I have a good background for this position and am excited about representing the Marine Corps there." The Congressional Fellowship gives exposure to the inner workings of the United States Congress for staff noncommissioned officers at the rank of staff sergeant through master gunnery sergeant as well as commissioned officers, first lieutenant through lieutenant colonel. The program is also open to senior civil service Marines.

The program will consist of three phases, Spain explained. First, the on-the-job training phase, where the fellow is exposed to the organization of the Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs, which includes rotation in both the House and Senate Liaison Offices on Capitol Hill.

Spain also will spend some time in the Special Correspondence Branch of the OLA during the initial phase.

Following one to two months of on-the-job training, the fellows will attend the congressional orientation program, which covers congressional organization and the legislative process, including discussions about current policy issues before Congress. The Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University is contracted by the U.S. government to provide for the fellowship. In addition to the orientation program, fellows can enroll in and attend the institute's advanced courses, including obtaining a certificate in legislative studies.

Spain already plans to pursue this Master's level certificate. ''I'm excited about the opportunity to take courses at Georgetown and obtain the certificate," Spain said. ''I obtained my degree in political science from University of Maryland while on active duty, so I'm looking forward to advancing my education."

''Providing insight on my military experience and giving honest opinions and advice are job qualifications I am confident about during the fellowship," Spain said.

''We have smart and well informed enlisted members in our Armed Forces today. A lot of us have degrees and some choose not to go the officer route for various reasons. I've heard nothing but good things about our enlisted personnel who go to the Hill to work in this program," Spain said. In the third phase of the program, fellows are interviewed and selected by a congressional office, either House or Senate, to perform duties of a staff member. Often the fellows work with an office's military legislative assistant, providing first-hand knowledge and understanding of military matters.

Most fellows serve in an office of a member who sits on a military related committee or subcommittee, such as the House or Senate Armed Services Committee or the House Appropriations committee or subcommittee on Defense. After the Fellowship is complete, Spain will have the opportunity to apply his experience and expertise. As directed by the Department of Defense, each fellow's utilization tour begins immediately after completing the fellowship.

The tour will be in one of several areas including: budgeting or policy making at Aviation or Plans, Policy and Operations or a tour at OLA.