I've been thinking about it since a freshman in high school and I am finally making the decision. I've talked to the recruiter a bunch of times and he was helpful in answering my questions about the process and logistics. I am enlisting in the USMC.
If anyone has tips, thoughts, stories of how you made it through boot camp, etc, it would be very helpful.
Why the Marines?
I want to do Marines because I want to be a Marine. I dont know if I can really explain it. I've looked closely at the other branches and have a great deal of respect for them (I'm not, HURR DURR MARINES>ARMY.) It's just what I want to do. Probably doesn't make any sense.
Nope, it's pretty stupid. What are you wanting to do?
Don't expect anything. Don't expect anything to be done for you or handed to you. And do your own research. Know exactly what you're signing up for, what you'll be doing after boot, and the opportunities available.
Finding a job relevant to a post-military career is a pretty good idea as well. The combat arms is cool, but unless you plan on doing HS/LD shit for a good bit of time and taking those skills somewhere (PMC's and such) afterwards, you're going to regret picking a cool job over something applicable when you inevitably get out.
Run, don't walk in any other direction. The US military is not bound by any promises made to you for training, assignment, educational opportunities or any other thing. Their sole interest is to exploit you for their ends. Do you see the US Government doing anything whatsoever on this planet that you truly want to be part of or for which you have moral responsibility?"Doing your duty" is a wash when you've subsumed your will to any other's.
Apart from relationships you may form individually there's little chance you'll do yourself any good in the long run, and you will certainly be at risk from death, dismemberment, disability, and scarring of your mind to the point of losing your memory and your personality.
I am not writing from my own experience, but from those of a close friend. This is a former marine just 6 mo. my junior. He enlisted very young to escape a brutally abusive father. As a sergeant, his career ended on a MIA rescue mission to Cambodia, probably in 1989. Twenty-two went in; parts of three came out, and the mission was a failure. The man directly in front of him was blown to bits by a land mine. My friend survived the blast but required reconstruction: bits of his brain lost in the jungle, memory and cognitive function with it. A titanium plate holds the rest of it in. I forget how long he was comatose, but he was at least two years in recovery before release from the VA (to which he will not go near to this day). Upon leaving the medical facility he wandered the country, sometimes living in the wilds. He's vague on this since it's the period in which his brain was relearning how to make memories or do anything else. Where was the USMC or his "country" for him? [see below]. I think the worst thing for him is his inescapable awareness that he is neither Who nor What he used to be. I've heard him read, with difficulty, but never seen him write at all. I think it's of little help that he sees his bookish little buddy reading and writing all the time. He does like movies on DVD, so I've made sure he has a DVD player available, but his tastes lean toward murder and violence that creep me out so he usually watches alone.
[Here's the part below.] Why I know this is the guy was my neighbor a couple years before becoming disabled with arthritis (not altogether due to his military injury. I'm disabled with the same thing, but due to genetics (early onset), not injury. He "toughed it out" as his disease progressed, just as I had done, finally making a mistake at work that cost him his job. He came to me in January 2012 asking if he could stay on my land. I agreed readily, wanting to ease the time he'd be stonewalled by his government, homeless, without an income. He built himself a crude shelter and we managed to eat and to feed our pets. I'd fulfilled my only major expense just a month earlier, now owning my "unimproved" acres but without yet taking on any new expense.
He's getting out on his own now, but returns haphazardly. This is just one story of many. All I can say of your Marines is "Semper Fi", applied to this one man alone. It's a phrase I taught him, since it was o longer in his memory.
It's strange that your friend does not have a 100% disability rating with the VA. I think he could easily get it, and with enough back pay to set him up pretty good. He would just have to go through the all the bureaucratic hoops, but it would be well worth his time. What do you mean by saying he was "stonewalled?" I wonder if he just needs some help with getting the paperwork done. Perhaps you could be the one to help him get the compensation and help he deserves. It would be silly not to because of an aversion to the gov't.
I worked for the Veterans Legal Services Project. Like other federal bureaucracies, there seems to be an automatic denial on the first application, especially if you're asking for big bucks. This Marine was also able to work after his time in service, so he obviously wasn't completely disabled. It's not a thumbs up/down system. You can be 80% disabled, for example.
Does that mean people should avoid the military? Maybe people who are looking to get back more or as much as they put in, but I know others ready for sacrificial service.
Of course, I know it's not up or down, 0% or 100%. The way the man described his friend's injuries, it would seem to warrant a %100 compensation, IMO.
I base my opinion on my personal experience with the VA. My injuries do not come close to his, and I was awarded a fairly high percentage. I was not rejected on first application. Neither were many of my friends.
I'm sorry, I wasn't clear on that. My friend does have his disability benefits now. Perhaps his VA records helped him get much faster processing than I did. It was eight months for him compared to 27 months for me, (even though there was abundant objective medical evidence and I'd obviously been fighting to keep on working - I'd worked with Michigan Rehabilitation Services about 10 years to pick up computer skills as an addition to my teaching degree). Although I spent two years in deep poverty I didn't lose my housing, my car kept running, and I had adequate food. The point here is that Missouri is of an entirely different nature. My friend would've had little of that, and nothing available in a timely manner. (Most people live hand to mouth here.) Not my story, but the contrast in our circumstances is what motivated me to do what I could, and my friend's character is what makes me glad I did.
I'm going to pass what you shared along to him [Thank you!] - and encourage him to see if there's anything more he can do as a veteran. We both hate not working and having some significance in the world.
"There are some that fall through the cracks..."
Sad, but true.