Just trying to belong - Coming to Terms With Never Going to Combat
Since I left the Marine Corps in 1998, I have had a constant problem with feeling like I belong. I have done countless hours of community service, which I enjoy, but it never really filled the gap. I have thought about joining a veterans group, but to be 100% honest with you I’m not a people person and I just don’t feel that I compare to these real Marines.
Yes, I was a Marine on active duty for a little over 10 years, but I never had the opportunity to serve in a combat zone. I did the training, and got the shots, but never deployed to a combat zone. So for me to sit down at the AmVets or American Legion and talk with someone that actually truly served, is nothing short of an embarrassment for me and I’m certain a disgrace for them. Yes, I served on active duty for 10-plus years and left with an honorable discharge. I was always tops in all my classes and I left as an SSgt. But I never had the opportunity to go to combat. I joined in 1988 and my first real chance of going to combat would have been, Desert Storm which was 1 month, 1 week, and 4 days in Jan and Feb 1991. My unit at the time (NSGA Homestead Florida) sent one Marine to Desert Storm, he said he got off the plane and got settled, and well it was all over with. But he did rate the CAR, so has that. But the rest of us have to live with the fact that we never had the opportunity to go.
In fact, I served in a time of peace, compared to how it is now. During the 10 years I served, we had the invasion of Panama, which had a U.S. complement of 27,000:
Marine Security Forces Battalion Panama,
Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment,
Marine Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams,
2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion,
2nd Marine Logistics Group 39th Combat Engineer Battalion Co C.
There was the First Intervention in the Somali Civil War which was a UN operation from 1992-95 (I was at MCAS Cherry Point), with the U.S. sending 25,000 troops, which was primarily 1 MEF.
That same time frame was Bosnia which was a NATO operation, so we didn’t have a giant footprint there either.
The Intervention in Haiti (1994-1995), where the U.S. committed another 25,000 troops.
I got out in 1998, so I never had the opportunity to go to any of them. I served my 10 years 3 months and 20 days with honor, leaving by choice. I felt it was time to grow up, and get a real job that can truly support my family. At that time, I didn’t fully understand what I was leaving behind.
It just isn’t the Marine Corps for me, it is my entire life. I have a strong need to give back, when I got out I really tossed around the idea of becoming a reserve police officer, but I never went down that road. Instead, I spent my time, coaching youth sports and being a Boy Scout leader. I coached youth sports for good 10-plus years and was a scout leader all the way from Tiger Scouts to Life Scout. I was also volunteering at a local animal rescue (for 10 years) and other charity events from time to time. Today, I’m 52 years old and I’m at a crossroads in my life. That crossroad is what I do now that I have grown up. What do I want to do with my life?
Though I enjoy outdoor activities, they often don’t enjoy me. My body does not react well to higher temperatures, which usually results in increased pain and other fun neurological issues for me (I’m diagnosed with RA and Fibro). I really don’t enjoy bookwork, I work on a computer all day Monday through Friday, so I try not to do much of that on my off time. I’m not a huge sports fanatic, so what do I do now?
I have written about this before and I stumbled upon this article from the New York Times Magazine that may help others if they have the same problem. I can so relate to this as an active duty Marine for 10 years and I never saw any action.
Click here to read the entire article at NYTimes.com.
If you have any suggestions, drop me a line.