I felt it necessary to do this little bio on Memorial Day weekend.
In 1995, I was 19. Had my diploma, had some college courses under my belt. Had my own apartment (party central). Most importantly, no debt. No direction as well. You should all know, that even as a teenager, I was odd. I knew that at 19, I was retarded and didn't know shit on how the world worked. I was yearning for SOMETHING, just not sure what. It wasn't weed , beer, or girls. I had plenty of that, yet knew it was not fulfilling. One day it just hit me, I knew what I lacked. I lacked pride. Pride in myself.
Any hopes of football were gone (Damn you genetics). Then one day I decided what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a Marine. I wanted that sword, I wanted that Blood Stripe, but most importantly I wanted to do something that a lot of people don't do. An endeavor that no one in my family had ever taken. I contacted my Brother who is friends with Jeff. Jeff was known only as The Marine. I'm guessing it's because he's the only one of my Brother's friends who served. So I meet with Jeff, and find out how things work. My plan is this, I will enlist for 4 years, then I will take advantage of the G.I. Bill while becoming a Marine reserve. After completing my degree, going into the OTC(?). I would attempt to become a USMC Officer and have that as a career. I was never sure if I would want the Marines to be a career, but after talking to The Marine, who himself was a career Marine, I had no doubt. This is what I wanted. It would give me a college education, a career, but most importantly, a sense of pride that I was desperately lacking.
So I went down to the local recruiter, talked to that guy for about an hour. I even joked with him. "Which branch has the most females enlisted?" I asked. He replied, "The Air Force, but they all fuck Marines." I actually thought that was pretty funny. So, the first thing I had to do was take a written test. I believe it was called the ASVAB test. I did very well. When I spoke with the recruiter the next day, he asked me if I was sure I wanted to join the Marines. He told me that my test results would qualify me for numerous programs in the Navy. I politely told him I was sure, I wanted to be a Marine. The next phase was some physical crap. Turns out, that a 5'11" man should only weigh 193 LBS. I weighed 239. So I had to go to the local High Shool and run around their track. I ran 3 miles with an average time of 7.04. Then I had to do chin-ups, and push-ups. I guess my strength performance was fine. I did a body comp test which was 11.8%. After all this, I was deemed worthy to go to Basic Training. I thought the whole thing was retarded, but after talking to friends who were Marines, and considering we were not at war, I understood it. The Government does not want to spend money training some kid who will only quit on them after a few weeks. I get it, no problem.
So I'm all set, now I just have a final interview. I was so excited. I was even given my choice of Basic. Jeff (The Marine) already told me to go San Diego, because N. Carolina had something called Sand Flees(?). In this final interview, I am asked if I have ever visited with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Too which I reply yes. They (a second guy was there) both looked at me. I didn't think nothing of it. After all, my mother had passed away 26 months prior, and my Father thought I was going through some depression phase (No fault of his own). They told me they needed the name and number of the Psychologist, which I gave. We finished the interview, and all was well. The next day the recruiter called and told me to come to the office for the final paperwork. I drove very fast. I was so excited to start this new chapter, not to mention overcoming a challenge. I sit down, that's when I get a little dose of reality.
"We have a problem".....My heart dropped. I'm thinking what problem, I aced all your tests, I'm ready, Let's go. The recruiter informed me that my two visits to a "Shrink" disqualified me from joining the Marines. I was stunned. Now, I'll never know if this is true, or the recruiter saw my eyes tearing up, but he told me that they may be able to get me in on waivers which would make the psych visit "Null & Void". I stood up, looked directly at the recruiter, and told him to go fuck himself.
After getting into my car, I cried. I cried hard. It was the saddest moment of my life, next top Mom's death. I now had a new dream. It was to be retired from the Marines at 45, with a college degree and no debt. Most importantly, it was a self worth. A pride that only a handful of Americans can lay claim to. I was denied. I was denied because I was honest about the worst time in my life. My Mom died when I was 16, my Father left soon after. I got a job, and still finished High School in the top 5% of my class of 512. I had my own apartment in High School, and still kept my grades up. Apparently, you can be a high school drop out, and still join the Marines, so long as you don't spend too much time in your room.
Needless to say, I spent my early 20's hating the Marines, HATING. Not only them, but our Federal Government. I even looked into citizenship for Canada, I was so pissed. But as I grew older, I realized one thing. It wasn't the fault of any Marine, I still don't think it was my fault. It was just not meant to be. I have since found my place in this world. A place that I love, and cherish. I have my wife and my daughter. Neither of which would have occurred if I were jumping from Chicago to Afghanistan right now.
Memorial Day reminds me of this. I've had a lot of friends who died in combat. Even more acquaintances. And too many strangers, to look up the numbers. They all gave their lives, so I can have a Blog and tell you this story. The Corps missed out on a kid that would have made a damn fine Marine. I will never forget that, but I have forgiven, and became much appreciated for what the Corps, and other servicemen in the other branches have sacrificed on my behalf. Please hold a moment of silence tomorrow, wherever you are at, for our brave men and women who have given their lives for our Freedom. May we never forget.