The following writing was authored by a USMC poolee (pictured) and not by Future Jarheads.
On October 4, 2001 a man walked into the room. I had met him a few days earlier, Dr. Robert Parker was now my oncologist. He walked in, my entire family was in there, immediate and extended. I remember thinking that I actually feel bad for my Dr having to come in and have to announce the news in front of my family. He said, “I’m sorry to say it, but we found Acute Leukemia cells inside your son’s blood.” It was as if time froze. There were 18 people in the room and everyone stopped and looked at me. I had no idea what to do. I cried, not really because I was sad, but instead because I thought I should. I was 13 years old, and my life was about to change forever.
The next 3 years of my life consisted of daily doses of chemo, losing hair, growing hair, then loosing it again, feeling like garbage, to the point of barely walking, spinal taps, bone marrow biopsy’s, and anything else in between. The first day I started chemo I knew I had two options. I can sit here and sulk and cry about my situation, or say screw it, I am going to beat this in every way possible. Attitude is everything, and it’s like life dealt me a bad hand of cards. Either I can fold, or play them, and I knew there was no way in hell I would fold. Someone has to be 5 years done with chemo in order to be officially cured, meaning I have just as much chance as anyone else at that point.
I always had the idea of joining the Marines in my head. The honor behind it, just being a part of the few and the proud, it’s something that appealed to me. I visited a recruiter in 2007, but I wasn’t really serious. I was not at my 5 year point yet, so I think that held me back. I felt like, yea ill regret not joining, but I thought I had time. A little over a year ago, it hit me. You hear it on tv, read about it in Marine advertisements, the “calling”. It hit me like a ton of brick., It was stuck in my head and heart. I walked into my local recruiting station on March 23rd, 2010, and we talked, he explained a few things, we met a few times after that, I told him my situation and medical history. The next time we met, the first thing he did was sit me down and said, “you have a 50/50 chance of getting in." Right off the bat he said, “I don’t want to lie to you, I have heard of some people getting in with a similar medical history, but I don’t know for sure. I am going to give this my 100% and be honest with you the whole way.”
Little did I know of the process that was to become of joining the United States Marine Corps. I was hoping to ship out by no later than June. The medical waiver process is slow, very very slow. The first thing they wanted was a copy of my entire medical history, as soon as I had a copy and submitted it, I thought okay this isn’t so bad, Ill submit this wait a few weeks get an answer, Im 6 years cancer free, they cant say no. Weeks went by, then about a month and a half two months later I got a call. Before I answered I remember getting the chills, “is this the call?” They wanted to send me down to Meps to take my ASVAB, it was now May 5th. I thought, can’t be much longer now. I was wrong. The next year of my life consisted of submitting documents, waiting months for a call back, then submitting more documents. Finally in October I received a call from my recruiter saying that I am going down to Meps again, this time to take the physical, which I passed. Once again I was like, okay its been a few months, but it cant be long now. I was wrong again. Towards the end I really started to lose hope. More than a year had gone by and I still was not accepted. I knew the next phone call I got from my recruiter was going to be the one. Either I am going to become a Marine or Im not, but It felt like it had been months since we talked about me enlisting. Throughout the year I did anything I could to help my situation. I spoke to friends, family, even had a senator put me in touch with a county legislator who he thought could help. He ended sending out a letter to a random person that worked in the DoD that was in charge of these issues. I did a ton of research online, e-mailed people etc. I don’t necessarily recommend doing this because sometimes putting the attention on yourself isn’t always a good thing
It was a Monday, around 4pm, my phone rang and it was my recruiter. As soon as I seen his name come up on my phone, I was shaking. I was at work and couldn’t answer. Right when my phone stopped ringing I received a text message from him saying “call me asap.” I was shaking when I went outside to call him. I asked him how he was, we talked for about 30 seconds, then finally I said, so what do you have for me staff sergeant, and he said something Ill never forget. He said, “so when do you want to join the Marines”? The emotions that ran through my body were just crazy. Excited, nervous, shocked, amazed,....everything all at once.
I finally took my oath of enlistment on April 21st 2011, over a year after my process started. I wanted this, I did everything I could to make it happen, but my recruiter did more. He was the first person to show me what being a Marine was all about, not quitting, and taking care of each other. He didn’t quit on me. He worked with me for over a year trying to get me in. Without him I would have never had the chance to be a part of the world’s finest fighting force. I now eagerly await my turn to step onto those Yellow Footprints!