ARLINGTON, Va. --
Suicide rates have risen throughout each branch of the armed forces in recent years, prompting senior Marine leaders to highlight the importance of recognizing mental distress warning signs.
The following story depicts one Marine’s struggle with alcohol abuse and his journey on the road to recovery after seeking help.
(Editor’s Note: The Marine highlighted in this story wishes to remain anonymous.)
“I was a locked-on Marine my first year, no problems. I was like a poster boy,” said the 23-year-old lance corporal who currently works at Headquarters Marine Corps.
The Oregon native’s problems started shortly after he applied to become a Force Reconnaissance Marine while stationed at Okinawa, Japan. Feeling unfairly rejected since he passed the indoctrination, his performance and drive to succeed took a turn for the worse.
“That was it for me,” he said. “I was done trying to be the best. I felt like I was cheated so I said ‘screw you guys, I’m just going to get drunk.’”
His problem worsened over time. However, after receiving two non-judicial punishments stemming from alcohol-related incidents he chose to seek help.
“I was just spiraling downward and continually getting worse,” he said. “I needed help and I knew it. Everything was falling apart and it made me want to drink more, but I knew that wasn’t the answer. Everything was just getting more and more difficult.”
Over time, the Marine said he felt his life was over. Feeling hopeless, he started thinking about doing something extreme. Upon realizing that he could not fix the situation on his own, he decided to start his road to recovery.
The personnel clerk went to his battalion’s substance abuse control officer and explained his problem.
“I was afraid of being discharged or some kind of action being taken against me, but instead they sent me to SARP for some help,” he said.
After spending a few weeks in the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program at the Washington Navy Yard, he said he came out with a different outlook on life.
“I came to realize the error of my ways and that drinking wasn’t the answer,” he said, thinking about the depression he fell into. “Who knows what could’ve happened if I didn’t do something about it.”
For more information on mental distress, visit www.usmc-mccs.org/suicideprevent.
“I’m not sure if I could’ve done it without help,” he said. “But I know that if I didn’t, things probably wouldn’t have turned out as well as they did. There’s no need to be afraid to reach out for a helping hand.”