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Thread: In Need of Help.
06-14-12, 04:07 PM #1
In Need of Help.
Good afternoon, everyone.
I am writing this post as an attempt to clear up my situation, as I have been struggling with it physically and emotionally on and off for the last four years. I request the advice of any current or retired Marines or anyone with extensive knowledge of how military discharges in the Marine Corps work.
I joined the United States Marine Corps on May 05, 2008. I was stationed at MCRD, San Diego. During Phase III of my basic training, I started having great difficulty breathing. I was reassigned to MRP on July 11th, 2008, the day before my 22nd birthday. I was taken to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego and diagnosed with dypsnea, a breathing disorder in which the vocal cords swell under stress on the body and close the throat and is also known as vocal cord disorder. It occurs during activities such as running and heavy lifting and was often coupled with severe chest pain. I was given Prilosec OTC and was told it only helps about half of the people it's given to. Unforunately, my condition actually worsened. I was reassigned to the separation platoon and told I was being sent home and I had failed to become a United States Marine. My discharge status was ELS-COG.
Here is where there's a twist. While in the separation platoon, just before I was to leave, I was told to report to the commander, and he stated that my discharge status was being changed. I was to be listed as 180 days active duty, a Medical Discharge (he said it was between an Honorable and General Discharge) and given a discharge status of 3G, meaning I could still be drafted, which is fine with me, and could also reenlist if cleared by the Surgeon General. I would receive medical service for my dypsnea, and nothing else, through the VA for up to two years or until it had been addressed. Upon my leaving MCRD, I was told to gather my uniforms, medals, ribbon, and a few other items I had returned, but wasn't left enough time to do so before my flight was scheduled. I still have one of my Sharpshooter medals, which had become "lost" in the bottom of my pack, but nothing was every forwarded to me. I left MCRD on July 28th, 2008, three days before I had been scheduled to graduate with the rest of my platoon.
Upon my return, I reported within less than a week to the VA Medical Center in Gaylord, Michigan, and was informed that I was nowhere in their computer system and to report back in a week. I did so with the same result for a month before I was told to go to the closest VA Office to my home, which was Petoskey, Michigan. There, we discovered that my discharge was screwed up. The DD-214 declares that I was only in the Marine Corps for 87 days, while the rest of the paperwork states 180 days, listing my discharge date as January 27th, 2009. The VA Officer and myself went back and forth with the VA for two years before finally abandoning any hope of being seen by a doctor. I still have the condition, which I never had before that week in Phase III, and was finally seen by a doctor on a company health plan last summer. I am on Clonopin, a muscle relaxant, which is working for most cases, and have to carry an emergency inhaler as it was discovered that I have developed a mild case of asthma over the last year or so.
My question is this: What am I? I never once regretted my decision to join the Marine Corps, I hold nothing against them, and will support the Corps with my life. I feel I am a Marine, but am I really? I don't have the uniform, I don't have a corrected DD-214 despite trying two years to obtain one, and I don't know what to do. Can anyone out there help me? What became of my uniform, my ribbon for enlisting during a wartime, my other medals? Is there any way to get them back? Do I even deserve them? What do I do?
06-14-12, 04:48 PM #2
You can contact a VSO (Veterans service officer such as the American Legion or Disabled American Veterans) and they may help you get a corrected DD214. They will also help you try to receive compensation for your condition. Go to www.va.gov for information on filing a claim.
06-14-12, 11:48 PM #3
You need to just look at the facts – while you may not like or appreciate ALL of my comments, the facts are what is relevant in your story.
First, I do sympathize with your situation. You made it thru DEP, and got to Boot Camp (Recruit Training) and qualified at the range, etc.. I’ll give you credit for that.
A reenlistment code of RE-3G is defined as: A separation due to a Condition (not physical disability) interfering with performance of duty.
Individuals with a Navy/Marine/Coast Guard RE Code of "3G" can normally reenlist in their service or another Service, but will probably require a waiver to be processed for reenlistment. This has nothing to do with (not) being able to be drafted (in the future). I’m sure that was communicated, to explain that it is possible to be drafted – but not a likely circumstance.
Anyway, let’s go over some key points. Based on your own words (I left out the unnecessary text, for brevity):
I joined the United States Marine Corps on May 05, 2008. I was reassigned to MRP on July 11th, 2008. I left MCRD on July 28th, 2008, three days before I had been scheduled to graduate with the rest of my platoon.
Which means you spent about 84-87 days TOTAL on active duty. Of which 67 days were spent in Boot Camp, credited as training days. The remainder of the days, are not applicable to Training Days, etc.
You didn’t graduate from Boot Camp; You didn’t earn your EGA; you were simply a recruit for 84-87 days, with about 67 training days – NOT YET a Marine. You could have been is “limbo” as a recruit for 1-2 years and still not be considered anything other than a recruit. I know it sucks, but’s that’s the reality of it. Are you going to go thru the rest of your like suggesting to people that you were a Marine? Or, will you be honest with yourself (and others); and say you got discharged from Recruit Training with a medical condition (not physical disability, BTY). BUT, if your records do in fact indicate a Medical Discharge, then that can be one reason WHY you’re having such a problem. The 3G RE code suggests you don’t have a physical disability, which I believe is incorrect, since you clearly did; or still do.
Then you say:
..the commander stated that my discharge status was being changed. I was to be listed as 180 days active duty, a Medical Discharge (he said it was between an Honorable and General Discharge) and given a discharge status of 3G, meaning I could still be drafted, which is fine with me, and could also reenlist if cleared by the Surgeon General. I would receive medical service for my dypsnea, and nothing else, through the VA for up to two years or until it had been addressed.
So, it seems you were given a Medical Discharge; with a RE Code of 3G, which seems reasonable. What this also means is: You weren’t given a “LIFE Time” VA entitlement for anything OTHER than your dypsnea (Difficulty in breathing, often associated with lung or heart disease and resulting in shortness of breath. Also called air hunger..) I’m not surprised you’re having trouble with the VA. [Note: they likely don’t regard you as a “Veteran”.] That’s because your “Physical Disability” (dypsnea) wasn’t due to the Recruit Training you were going through. Rather, it was a condition that was deemed as pre-existing, and “became an issue” while you were IN Recruit Training. As opposed to falling and breaking your back; OR getting Viral Pnuemonia; or Meningitis, etc.
Upon my leaving MCRD, I was told to gather my uniforms, medals, ribbon, and a few other items I had returned, but wasn't left enough time to do so before my flight was scheduled. I still have one of my Sharpshooter medals, which had become "lost" in the bottom of my pack, but nothing was every forwarded to me.
You likely only earned, and are entitled to (as a momento), the Rifle Sharpshooter Medal. All of the other items are only relevant after you earn your EGA. The reason all the other stuff (I’d guess) wasn’t forwarded to you was, because, the Recruit Training Command didn’t view it as necessary. Or simply didn’t care. That’s harsh, but likely true.
There, we discovered that my discharge was screwed up. The DD-214 declares that I was only in the Marine Corps for 87 days, while the rest of the paperwork states 180 days, listing my discharge date as January 27th, 2009.
I’d don’t know what you mean by “the rest of the paperwork”, since you were separated FROM Recruit Trainina after 87 days. So, your DD-214 reflects that. Along with the RE Code of 3G. Anyway from your arrival at MCRDSD, 180 days is approximately equal to November 2; and January 27, would be 267 days, so the number of days are screwed up anyways. You were either a recruit for 87 days; or 180 days; or 267 days. It all becomes irrelevant, since you were separated from MCRDSD (Active Duty) on July 28th, 2008, with a RE Code of 3G, via your DD-214. The Medical Discharge paperwork was either provided to you at that time or you got it later. I got my Honorable Discharge 2 years after I was separated from active duty. My DD-214 was handed to me the day I left Pendleton after 4 years of AD.
The VA Officer and myself went back and forth with the VA for two years before finally abandoning any hope of being seen by a doctor. I still have the condition, which I never had before that week in Phase III,
It’s now been almost 4 years since you got separated. You should either know that your condition will NOT get cured, or know there IS hope for a cure. I’m not a doctor, but I’d guess your dypsnea was present prior to Recruit Training and was just not diagnosed, prior to Phase III.
Recruit Training (or the Marines) didn’t give you dypsnea. But you are entitled to help, that you obviously haven’t received yet. Don’t feel too bad, a lot of Marines/Service Members had to wait 10,20, 30 years to get treated properly by the VA. Many NEVER got any help.
My question is this: What am I?
I feel I am a Marine, but am I really?
I don't have the uniform, I don't have a corrected DD-214 despite trying two years to obtain one, and I don't know what to do. Can anyone out there help me? What became of my uniform, my ribbon for enlisting during a wartime, my other medals? Is there any way to get them back? Do I even deserve them? What do I do?
Let’s be honest here. I’d guess you really know the answers to your questions? Keep your Sharpshooting Badge, knowing you actually did earn it.
As far as anything else, just accept your past circumstances as a fact of life and move on. Depending on your age and any medical help - you may get cured and and you can try to re-enlist. Other than that, I’d just man up to the fact that you didn’t earn your EGA and you’re not a Marine (YET). You certainly gave it a shot, but it didn’t work out for you. Do not lose faith in what you want to accomplish. All is not lost. I joined the Marines when I was 21; (which was kinda older than most in 1966). You’re likely 26 now. I had a recruit in my battalion that was 33 when he enlisted – he tried for 7 years to join and finally made it. He did have a very tough time in Recruit Training, BUT he and I both made L/CPL on the same day – about 4 weeks after Boot Camp. [By then, we thought we really knew our $heet – we didn’t.]
Truthfully, If anyone asks: Tell them you went to Marine Corps Recruit Training and got a Medical Discharge (due to your dypsnea) . And you’re trying to reenlist (or you’re NOT). If you do make it – you’ll have the rest of your life to share your story and adventures as a Marine. Anything else is just BS. And I don’t mean that with any disrespect, since you asked for advice/confirmation from others, I wanted to give you one view on how your post was received.
Others may disagree. But, I have (also) BTDT and have the friggen pictures, etc., including whatever ribbons, medals, etc. I have packed away.So, it’s just MY analysis of your situation – nothing more.
Good Luck to you.
06-15-12, 05:42 AM #4
DaShadow, Pretty much says it like it is ..
As cold and hard as it can be.
#1, no EGA, no Marine title..
Gear ?? not quite clear which gear/stuff you're talking about..
>>>>>Upon my leaving MCRD,
I was told to gather my uniforms,
medals, ribbon, and a few other items I had returned,
but wasn't left enough time to do so
before my flight was scheduled.
I still have one of my Sharpshooter medals,
which had become "lost" in the bottom of my pack,
but nothing was every forwarded to me. <<<<<<
the statement is confusing to me,
Sorry, I'm old and easily confused.
When we had recruits who washed out,
They were not allowed to keep Uniforms,
Bye the same token, they weren't required to
pay for them either.
Washouts and rejects
had to purchase civilian
glad rags to depart in ,
best of my memory.
Good Luck in your travels
06-15-12, 09:13 PM #5
DaShadow - I appreciate your advice and your words of wisdom. Any help is better than no help at all. I can take the harsh facts, and I appreciate your honesty. I would like to clear up a couple things, though, as I noticed your confusion and where I left out some information in my post.
When I was discharged, I always stated the facts, just like you mentioned, until recently (more on that later). I stated that I didn't graduate from Basic Training due to an injury sustained in basic training (dypsnea) and didn't earn the right to call myself a Marine. To clear this up, I had never had trouble with breathing before in my life. I was a long-distance runner in middle school and frequently rode a bicycle for fifty miles or more at a time cross-country through high school and before joining the Marine Corps. I was checked before basic for breathing trouble and none showed. I even ran the IST one and a half miler in 10 minutes, 29 seconds, and, despite shin splints, ran the three miler in 25 minutes, 45 seconds. Therefore, after leaving the medical platoon for the separation platoon, it was determined that the injury was sustained during basic training and not prior, hence my changed discharge status. This came about through a Staff Sergeant in the medical platoon who went to bat for me along with the physical assistant (I can't remember his actual title, but he was a civilian) in the medical platoon. I was basically told I was being given the same status as the recruits who had a broken back/chronic pneumonia/other issue.
On your comment about my discharge status, I never once expected to receive lifetime benefits, compensation pay, veteran status, or anything remotely like that. I expected exactly what you said: support for two years for my dypsnea and nothing else, but got nothing. That was all I was after when I got home, because I thought if I could get it cured, I could rejoin. However, the VA, with the exception of my officer, refused to work with me toward that end. Also, just to restate, if there was a draft, I would be first in line to reenlist in the Corps.
On your comment about my getting cured, I have found something that helps through a wellness program at a prior job. I was allotted $200 to see a local doctor about finding a way to breathe better last summer, and was put on Clonopin, a mild muscle relaxant, that relaxes my vocal cords in my throat enough to breathe when my body is under stress, plus an emergency inhaler. The Clonopin will slow the process, but not stop it.
I do have a quick question, though. Due to the high number of applicants for the Marine Corps, I was told last year that I could no longer join after the age of 26 (except in cases of a draft), which I turn next month. Is there any truth in this?
Another point I would like to make, which is mainly where my personal confusion comes from, is this: I have been in contact with retired and current Marines and other military members, people I'd never met before Basic Training. When I tell them exactly what you said, that I was in Marine Corps Basic Training at MCRD San Diego, made it to Phase III, and was diagnosed with dypsnea, given a discharge status of 3G, and came home without graduating, they all say I should still call myself a Marine, and they call me one. For four years it's been like that. Hence, my confusion. I try to explain that I didn't graduate, and they wave it off and say I had the will to fight for my country, I joined for the right reasons, and I fought for two years for my "disability" and eventually overcame it and that's good enough for them.
One thing I forgot to mention, which is very important and I can't believe I forgot. I was originally diagnosed with dypsnea while in the medical recovery platoon, but some test results that came back later while I was in separation said that I also tested positive for asthma. Records show I had tested negative for asthma before basic training, which led to the change in discharge status thanks to the two people I mentioned before who received the records and went to bat for me. Also, in a meeting with the commander handling my discharge, the commander told me that my changed discharge wouldn't allow me to rejoin the Marine Corps due to my asthma, and I asked him if there was anything he could do to make it so I could get back in. He told me he wished half the recruits had my attitude (sounds cheesy, but it's what he said), and he said a 3G for dypsnea, as I was originally diagnosed, was the best he could do, so I took that chance in hopes I could return someday. I may have just answered my own question - I feel like an idiot now. For four years I never put two and two together, until discussing it here. My change back to dypsnea from asthma must have triggered the change in my DD-214 back to ELS-COG, rather than the two years benefits. It only changed on the DD-214, though, which was why I was so confused. Does any of this make any sense?
06-15-12, 09:46 PM #6
I've read your plight and feel for ya, man! Your heart is certainly in the right place. Unfortunately, it's like leading the race and crashing on the last lap with a DNF... Technically, you are a recruit until graduation day when the title "Marine" is earned and given to you. It appears you did all the right things, except 'graduate'. Never give up! I do not know the cut-off age, but I went thru Parris Island with a 31 year old back in '75. It may have been on a waiver, but maybe you could, too.....Good luck and Semper-Fi!
06-17-12, 12:22 AM #7
I understand your desire to try and work through your rather complex experience, by posting your history here. But, my head hurts from reading your last post. No fault of yours, just my feeble attempt to analyze your postings.
Like I said before – you got dealt a bad hand. Aside from your medical problems (in Recruit Training), you were likely a dedicated Recruit and performed honorably while in Recruit Training. I’ll not comment any further on your medical status/analysis. I would like to reinforce my opinion of your status after being discharged from Recruit Training (prior to graduation). Only because it may save you some grief, if you continue to relate all “the details”, when someone asks you about your military service.
You (and sympathetic acquaintenances) have, in the past deemed yourself a Marine. For the last 50 or so years, NO ONE who was discharged from Recruit Training, prior to the completion of such training has been regarded as “A Marine”. Nor, IMO, should they rightfully call themselves A Marine. Rather, they were Recruits that didn’t complete Recruit Training and therefore, didn’t earn the EGA. No EGA = NOT a Marine.
To be clear, the only bonofide Marines that didn’t complete Recruit Training (at San Diego or Parris Island) are direct Commissioned Officers; OR members of the Marine Band (they don’t have to attend Recruit Training). Do you play an instrument? Really, Really well??
In your heart, do you REALLY think you’re a Marine? In the same context as any Marine that has earned the EGA? If you do, then there is no reason for you to comment to this (my last post).
Live your life as you see fit, BUT…..
Some day, you’ll be at a BBQ and notice a young man with an artificial leg. You’ll walk up to him to chat.
Conversation will go like this:
You: “What happened to your leg?”
Young Man: “I got injured in Afghanistan. I lost a leg, but a number of my “Brothers” were KIA. I’d give anything to trade places with any one of them.”
You: “What branch of Service?”
Young Man: “The Marines. Were you in the service? Which branch?”
You: “Yes, I was. I am a Marine also.”
Young Man: “Well, Semper Fi, Brother. When did you graduate from Recruit Training? What was your MOS? Where were you stationed? Ever deployed? How long were you in? When did you get out? What was your best duty station? What was the highest rank you EARNED?”
You: “Well, I actually never graduated from Recruit Training; I never got an MOS and never stationed anywhere. I joined the Marine Corps on May 05, 2008. I got sick and was reassigned to MRP on July 11th, 2008. I left MCRD on July 28th, 2008, prior to my Platoon graduating. I got a medical discharge based on my illness and even though I was in a total of 87 days, before being sent home.
But, I still regard myself “A Marine.””
Young Man: “Uh…..OK…You believe that??
That’s like saying: “I earned a Purple Heart (though never actually received it), because I once heard an RPG impact.”
Actually, you were REALLY - A Marine Recruit, but never made Private.”
You do realize, you could have made your initial post – Just specific to getting VA/Medical advice/help and NOT gone into all the verbiage relative to your “Am I a Marine, Yes or No? By going there – there are some of us who cruise this forum, that feel compelled to comment – with Honor, Integrity & Duty.
Just remember: Fideli Certa Merces (Google is your friend).
After my time in the Marine Corps, I spent 25 years working for a 3Letter Govt. Agency – as an Intelligence Analyst. Based on my experience, my advice to you is to seek MORE (proper) medical help. And, IMO, You should also consider alternative assistance which may resolve any other wonderments you have, or may develop in the future.
Good Luck to you.
06-17-12, 12:41 AM #8
FYI - It's not "Basic Training" in the Marine Corps. It's either called Recruit Training or Boot Camp.
There's nothing "basic" about it. LOL....
06-17-12, 08:58 AM #9
DaShadow, none of my bee's wax, but that is the first I heard that members of the Marine Band do not have to attend Boot Camp.....back in '75, the Platoon Honor Man of Plt. 2004, Jim Snyder, from Lehigh, Pa. joined with a guarantee to the Marine Band as a Clarinet player. I remember talking with DI, SSgt. Collins after graduation about him. 'L/Cpl' Snyder was the cream of the crop for the Marine Corps, as SSgt. Collins put it, but 'chose to blow on that bugle, or whatever it is'! LOL! I thought ALL Marines had to graduate Boot Camp.....as ALL Marines are basic riflemen, first...Or, has that changed? One hellava nice guy, Snyder was! I regret we lost contact after a year or so.........Maybe I'll find him on Leatherneck some day! Semper-Fi!
06-17-12, 04:11 PM #10
I should have been a little more precise. I was referring to THE Marine Band which is uniquely known as "The President's Own”. I wanted to cite the ONLY example of “enlisted Marines” who are not required to complete Recruit Training in order to be classified as “a Marine”.
The Marine Band recruits members that are selected through a rigorous audition procedure; be extremely experienced musicians and must satisfy additional security and physical requirements to be eligible.
Upon enlistment, selected band members serve under a four-year contract as active dutyenlisted Marines and are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and physical standards.
They are the only members of the United States Armed Forces NOT required to undergo recruit training and DO NOT perform combat missions (or mess duty, guard duty, fire watch, etc.) They are musicians, NOT combat trained Marines. Also, they are not assigned to any unit other than the Marine Band.
MOS 5511 is assigned to musicians who are enlisted "for duty with the United States Marine Band only." They are appointed to the grade of staff sergeant (E6) commencing upon their initial 4-year enlistment. These enlistees report directly to the Marine Band, Marine Barracks, Washington, DC for duty. They are permanently assigned to the Band and perform musical duties as an instrumentalist or music related technical duties as a member of the support staff.
The band members wear rank insignia with a lyre replacing the normal crossed rifles. Commissioned officers are drawn from the band, although Drum Majors are career Marines and are selected from Fleet Marine Force bands, as they are responsible for the military development of the band's members.
Any Enlisted Marine who wants to start their Marine Corps career, WITHOUT graduating from Recruit Training, will have to be selected, then enlist, as a member of the United States Marine Band (meaning,The President’s Own).
I can’t explain the promises made to your Marine friend and why he went to Recruit Training if he did in fact enlist as a member of The Marine Band. He may have enlisted with a slot to one of the Division or Regimental Bands; or the CMC Band. They go to Recruit Training. Thereafter, if they don’t make the cut, as a Band Member, they usually get an MOS, based on the needs of the Corps.
06-17-12, 06:47 PM #11
Interesting, DaShadow! I did not know that. Thanks for enlightening me on that! It does make sense, tho. I figured you must have to be really good at ANY instrument to qualify for the Marine Band. They are the best!
06-18-12, 08:50 PM #12
DaShadow - Thank you very much for your advice. That is one of the answers I have been looking for for many years. I had been curious as to whether or not the other recruits injured ever received the title of Marine, and now I know.
Also, you're exactly right about the barbeque situation. That is the type of conversation I had feared, and one of the reasons for my original post. I will do the honorable thing, especially since I now know it's the right thing. I like the idea of simply explaining I didn't graduate and if they want to know more, I'll let them know more. That's what I had been trying to do, and will start to do once again.
I have never and will never hold anything against the Marine Corps for what happened to me. It's not their fault, nor anybody's, including myself. I've thought over each day and each event of each day thousands of times in my mind trying to figure out what I could have done different and the answer is always the same: I gave it my all, and I would never give any less. My body just didn't hold up, and I accept that.
Thank you once again for your advice. Whether you consider it harsh or not, it has helped. Thank you.
06-18-12, 09:12 PM #13
Wolfeman (I don't know how you came up with that name) But, coming from a 'Wolfe" man, that is the attitude that will take you thru life accepting the things you cannot change and adapting to the circumstances handed to you. I wish you well. There is no shame for trying. Maybe you are not the Marine you desired to be, but you still have 'grit'! Good luck! Semper-Fi!
06-19-12, 04:03 PM #14
bodidly58 - Thank you for your kind words. I fully attend to apply in my life what I did learn in the Corps from my short time as a recruit, and nothing can ever replace that knowledge.
Also, if you're curious as to where I got the name, it was a bit of a nickname from between high school and joining the Marine Corps. I was called Wolfman because I couldn't grow facial hair on my upper lip, thus giving the initial appearance of an Abe Lincoln-style beard, but it grows like crazy everywhere else, so people nicknamed me the Wolfman. I changed it to Wolfeman with an "e" after Wolfe Tone, the leader of the Irish Rebellion around the same time as the American Revolution. I have a heavy Irish heritage (my grandfather holds dual citizenship as his father was an Irish immigrant), so it makes sense once all put together.
I have a question for anyone out there. Is there any way to change my status away from "Marine" on my profile? I looked through it and didn't see a way.
06-19-12, 08:13 PM #15
Well, now Wolfeman! That heritage is interesting! As my mother's ancestry migrated from Ireland back 9 generations ago, As a young lad of 17, William Mustard stowed away on a ship full of cattle to America to escape the gallows! (May be where I get my comical side from) Long story, but an interesting one. Married up with Sally Brown, a girl with a condition known as 'straight fingers'. (Missing one knuckle) That trait is still prominent in Bland County.. Then, he drowned in New River, as many has...AS far as changing your status..I wouldn't worry about it much. Most of us has figured out how it got there and I don't think changing it will change much. (Besides, I don't know how).....Sempers!
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