Well, here goes…this may get lengthy, but I hope it will help someone, somewhere. I will preface this all by saying I have never seen combat, and don’t claim to have any form of PTS. I’ll try to keep this somewhat organized and not too scatter brained. I have lots I could write but I don’t want to make it too long so if you have any questions or want to talk more, I’m here, just send me a message.
I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 2004. I served for 6 years as an MP, and had one deployment of 7 months in 2008-2009 to Djibouti, Africa. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the typical deployment for the times we were in. There was no combat zone of any kind there. Some people viewed it more as a vacation.
After I got out of the Corps in 2010, while I never hid the fact that I was a veteran, I never really fully embraced it either. When talking with fellow veterans, I always just kind of took a quiet back seat. I almost felt ashamed that I never did a “real deployment” to Iraq or Afghanistan. I felt like that was my first strike against me. My second strike, in my eyes, was that I was only in the reserves and not active duty.
Adding to all of this was the fact I was a Marine, and that’s a heavy title to live up to. I had friends, family, and coworkers saying, “Oh he can do it, he’s a Marine”, or “Let’s have the Marine do it”, etc. I felt like I didn’t live up to that title since I was only in the reserves and hadn’t actually “fought” for our country.
Fast forward to just a year or so ago. In working with fellow veterans and seeing their own struggles they’ve dealt with, and their willingness to open up, it made me realize something. I am a veteran, and a Marine. I did sign that dotted line, and I did serve my country. And to most veterans, it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, or if or where you deployed to. All that matters is you’re part of a brotherhood/sisterhood that not many people can say they belong to as well. That’s especially true with the Marine Corps. Once a Marine, Always a Marine.
So, I hope I still have your attention. I’m just about finished. No matter when or where you served, be proud of it. Don’t be afraid to share your own experiences with others. There could be someone out there with a similar story, but are afraid to share it because they feel ashamed, or feel they’ll be ridiculed because it. Don’t worry, we won’t judge you. We’ll welcome you in to the family with arms wide open. You just have to be willing to open up and reach out. Find an organization that you can be a part of and help your fellow brothers and sisters. We’re all alone, together.
Semper Fidelis Marines.