The commandant of the Marine Corps has launched a campaign to help every enlisted man and woman in his service obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr., in a message to all Marine commands late last month, said he felt strongly that "every Marine, regardless of grade or years in service, {should have} at minimum a valid high school credential."

While regulations have long espoused that goal for enlisted Marines, now is the time "to ensure that the goal is being addressed through the joint efforts of the local command, the education office and individual Marines," Gray wrote.

The Marine Corps, like all the military services, has had record success in recent years in raising entry standards for new recruits. During the last fiscal year 98 percent of those who joined the Marine Corps already had a high school diploma or its equivalent.

According to the corps, only 2,239 of the roughly 179,500 enlisted men and women on active duty failed to finish high school. And at Gray's prodding, they're about to be singled out for special treatment.

"All Marines who lack a high school credential will be identified and counseled regarding suitable education programs," Gray wrote. "Programs may include accredited local high schools, accredited adult high schools and General Equivalency Degree programs. Commanders will ensure that appropriate options are available."