Beyond the Badge

Marine Corps veteran reflects on service

Man in Marine Corps uniform in 1998 and a modern photo of same man in front of flags.
US Marine Jon Sieberg, left, in 1998 and today as a lieutenant at High Desert State Prison.

Three questions with Jon Sieberg

Lieutenant Jonathan “Jon” Sieberg is the Administrative Assistant/Public Information Officer (AA/PIO) at High Desert State Prison (HDSP). He joined CDCR in 2007, promoted to Sergeant in 2013, and promoted to Lieutenant in 2016. He began working as AA/PIO in May 2021. Lt. Sieberg served in the United States Marine Corps on active duty from 1998 to 2007. There he served four combat tours. He worked as an Unmanned Air Vehicle Pilot/Operator Sergeant at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twenty-nine Palms in California.

How did your experience in the Marine Corps prepare you for a career in CDCR?

The Marine Corps prepared me in several ways. Teamwork and camaraderie are the most important. For nine years in the Marines, I could never do anything alone. I do appreciate all the staff I work with.

Leadership: The Marine Corps taught me to lead from the front, be the example. As a leader in the Marines, whatever happens rises or falls on you. All my men and women’s mistakes were my mistakes, and their successes were my successes.

Discipline and self-control: Often in both professions we do things we do not want to do. This experience gave me discipline to push through any wish to delay and understand the bigger picture.

Excellence: Anything worth doing is worth doing well. The surest way to get yourself into trouble is to cut corners, whether you are on the battlefield or on the facility. The military taught me excellence is a habit and a necessity.

Improvisation: I learned to trust my gut and training. You have to fall back on your training and trust your gut more than you think. You have to be prepared to do the best of your ability in CDCR, and improvisation is key. This helped me in critical incidents and dealing with staff in crisis.

Results: In the military, and here where I work. It isn’t just about trying your best it is to get things done. “There is no excuse for failure” was a saying in the Marines.

During the years I served, we had to help each other through the bad times. As a result, the military helped me in Peer Support. Supporting one another was a way we survived combat deployments together. I learned in times of crisis you must rely on your peers to help you through the hard times at work and in life. Listening to each other is how I survived on combat deployments.

Do you offer Peer Support services to veterans?

HDSP has Military Peer Support, which includes myself. Because of this program, I became interested in Peer Support in the first place. When I first started assisting veterans, I discovered that I enjoyed Peer Support and assisting all staff. Peer Support has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. Listening to your coworkers is an example of Peer Support. Being there for them after a critical incident or crisis. Providing resources to staff. When we are stressed, it is easy to lose sight of all the resources that are available to us. Most of the time, having trained staff to listen while another is having a problem will greatly assist them in their situation. Making sure staff have someone they can contact if they need assistant.

Do you have a message for other veterans?

Being in the military is now one of the most difficult things to do. Whatever your feelings are about your time in the military, be proud that you served. The stigma of pushing it down and never talking about the bad times is no longer common, as it was when I served. Help one another and your families. I am grateful to my brothers and sisters who have served, and I wish you a happy Veterans Day this year.

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