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thedrifter
02-09-08, 09:29 AM
Man with asthma battling to get back into the Marines
Glenn Butorac wants to rejoin the Corps. It's saying no.

By STEPHANIE HEINATZ

247-7821

February 8, 2008

NEWPORT NEWS


— When Glenn Butorac enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1983, he intended to make the military his career.

After 10 years of honorable service, he was given a severance check and told to hang up his uniform.

In 1993, after Butorac felt tightness in his chest while running with his unit, the Corps medically discharged him.

He had asthma, military doctors wrote in his medical file.

Now 42 and living in Newport News, Butorac is fighting to get back into the service, to be reinstated at least as a sergeant — his rank when he left the service — and to finish his military career.

"I never should have been discharged," Butorac said. "I've wanted to get back in since I got out."

Butorac doesn't think that he has asthma. Neither does the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has denied his application for disability three times.

The VA has told him that he doesn't qualify for a service-related disability, even though he was medically discharged because of a "physical disability," according to his certificate of release from the military.

"It's either I'm a disabled veteran or I'm a retired Marine," he said. "I have a medical discharge that has affected me getting employment. The VA tells me I have no disabilities, therefore I have no benefits. If the Marine Corps made a mistake, they need to retract that (medical discharge) decision and let me back in."

But it's not that simple.

To enlist in the Marines or to be reinstated after previous military service, "you have to be medically, morally and physically able to serve," said Gunnery Sgt. Pauline Franklin, a Pentagon-based spokeswoman for the Corps' Recruiting Command.

Any pre-existing conditions are reviewed by a doctor, depending on the severity, but asthma could keep someone from enlisting, she said.

Franklin emphasized that the Corps evaluated each enlistee's qualifications case by case.

Butorac said he had contacted a local Marine recruiter, who told him that he couldn't get back in because of his medical discharge.

"If they thought I was good enough to go in, and I don't have it now that I'm out, something isn't adding up," he said.

If he had asthma, Butorac said, wouldn't the Marine Corps have caught it when he enlisted? Not necessarily, the recruiting command spokeswoman said.

All recruits go through a rigorous medical examination, Franklin said. But, she said, some conditions could "be brought on by the increased exercise in the Marine Corps. If you are not doing those things in your civilian life, they may not manifest themselves. When he was serving in the military, those symptoms may have manifested themselves. When he got out, they may have gone away."

Until recently, Butorac hasn't fought to get back into the Marines. It wasn't easy finding a job post-Marine Corps. "People, even civilian people, didn't want to hire a Marine who had a medical discharge," he said.

As for the Marines, "I figured when you got a medical discharge, that was it," he said. But the VA's repeated rejections of his disability claims made him wonder whether a mistake was made — which is why he's fighting to be reinstated.

Butorac has hired a private attorney, Edgar Jones of Williamsburg, to help him petition the Board for Correction of Naval Records to review his case. The Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department.

Jones asked the Navy secretary's office to reinstate Butorac and bypass the need for a board hearing.

"The Marine Corps has no authority to grant disability compensation or to change or modify a discharge executed under proper authority," the head of the Corps' Separation and Retirement Branch said in a December letter to Jones and Butorac.

Butorac fears that by the time the case is reviewed, he'll be too old to serve again. "I'm not getting any younger," he said.

The target recruiting age range for the Marines is 17 to 29. If an enlistee has previous military service, the age requirements change.

To re-enlist, Butorac would have to be able to serve a total of 20 years on active duty before reaching 55. If he were able to re-enlist in the next three years, he would qualify using those age standards alone, according to a Corps spokeswoman.

"Most people are bad-mouthing the military while I'm fighting to get back in," Butorac said. "I'm not asking for something for nothing. I would go to Iraq tomorrow if they let me back in. I feel I can still serve my country with the highest level of professionalism. I deserve a chance to retire from the Marine Corps."

Ellie

thedrifter
02-11-08, 08:36 PM
Discharged Marine fighting to rejoin Corps
By Stephanie Heinatz - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Feb 11, 2008 12:39:17 EST

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — When Glenn Butorac enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1983, he intended to make the military his career.

After 10 years of honorable service, he was given a severance check and told to hang up his uniform.

In 1993, after Butorac felt tightness in his chest while running with his unit, the Corps medically discharged him.

He had asthma, military doctors wrote in his medical file.

Now 42 and living in Newport News, Butorac is fighting to get back into the service, to be reinstated at least as a sergeant — his rank when he left the service — and to finish his military career.

“I never should have been discharged,” Butorac said. “I’ve wanted to get back in since I got out.”

Butorac doesn’t think that he has asthma. Neither does the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has denied his application for disability three times.

VA has told him that he doesn’t qualify for a service-related disability, even though he was medically discharged because of a “physical disability,” according to his certificate of release from the military.

“It’s either I’m a disabled veteran or I’m a retired Marine,” he said. “I have a medical discharge that has affected me getting employment. The VA tells me I have no disabilities, therefore I have no benefits. If the Marine Corps made a mistake, they need to retract that [medical discharge] decision and let me back in.”

But it’s not that simple.

To enlist in the Marines or to be reinstated after previous military service, “you have to be medically, morally and physically able to serve,” said Gunnery Sgt. Pauline Franklin, a Pentagon-based spokeswoman for the Corps’ Recruiting Command.

Any pre-existing conditions are reviewed by a doctor, depending on the severity, but asthma could keep someone from enlisting, she said.

Franklin emphasized that the Corps evaluated each enlistee’s qualifications case by case.

Butorac said he had contacted a local Marine recruiter, who told him that he couldn’t get back in because of his medical discharge.

“If they thought I was good enough to go in, and I don’t have it now that I’m out, something isn’t adding up,” he said.

If he had asthma, Butorac said, wouldn’t the Marine Corps have caught it when he enlisted? Not necessarily, the recruiting command spokeswoman said.

All recruits go through a rigorous medical examination, Franklin said. But, she said, some conditions could “be brought on by the increased exercise in the Marine Corps.”

“If you are not doing those things in your civilian life, they may not manifest themselves,” she said. “When he was serving in the military, those symptoms may have manifested themselves. When he got out, they may have gone away.”

Until recently, Butorac hasn’t fought to get back into the Marines. It wasn’t easy finding a job post-Marine Corps.

“People, even civilian people, didn’t want to hire a Marine who had a medical discharge,” he said.

As for the Marines, “I figured when you got a medical discharge, that was it,” he said.

But VA’s repeated rejections of his disability claims made him wonder whether a mistake was made — which is why he’s fighting to be reinstated.

Butorac has hired a private attorney, Edgar Jones of Williamsburg, to help him petition the Board for Correction of Naval Records to review his case. The Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department.

Jones asked the Navy secretary’s office to reinstate Butorac and bypass the need for a board hearing.

“The Marine Corps has no authority to grant disability compensation or to change or modify a discharge executed under proper authority,” the head of the Corps’ Separation and Retirement Branch said in a December letter to Jones and Butorac.

Butorac said he fears that by the time the case is reviewed, he’ll be too old to serve again.

“I’m not getting any younger,” he said.

The target recruiting age range for the Marines is 17 to 29. If an enlistee has previous military service, the age requirements change.

To re-enlist, Butorac would have to be able to serve a total of 20 years on active duty before reaching 55. If he were able to re-enlist in the next three years, he would qualify using those age standards alone, according to a Corps spokeswoman.

“Most people are bad-mouthing the military while I’m fighting to get back in,” Butorac said. “I’m not asking for something for nothing. I would go to Iraq tomorrow if they let me back in.

“I feel I can still serve my country with the highest level of professionalism,” he added. “I deserve a chance to retire from the Marine Corps.”

Ellie