He Has a Purple Heart, but the VA Wouldn’t Call Him a Veteran 

| February 13, 2019

Because he left the service with ‘bad paper,’ Alejandro Garcia was denied benefits for almost nine years.

I should let people know this article was by:

 Ms. Goldberg is a supervising staff attorney at Swords to Plowshares, a veterans rights organization in San Francisco, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law.

If people who do not complete their tour of service honorably get the same benefits that those who do … then there is no honor in military service.

Some 7,000 service members enter this administrative black hole each year. I’ve represented many of them, including Alejandro Garcia. He enlisted in the Marines in the wake of 9/11 and later headed to Baghdad as a rifleman. Hit by shrapnel during his first tour, he was medivacked for emergency care. At his insistence he returned to the front lines soon after. He received a Purple Heart for his wounds. But his story was far from over: During Mr. Garcia’s second and third tours, improvised explosive devices killed four of his friends and his commanding officer and hit his Humvee nearly a dozen times.

As these traumas accumulated, Mr. Garcia developed symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder. Constantly anxious, he had chronic insomnia and nightmares about being shot. He got into minor altercations with fellow Marines. He did what he could to keep serving—marijuana helped him sleep, and alcohol helped him forget. The Marines, however, overlooked the PTSD at the root of his behavior and discharged him with “bad paper.” Under federal law, this meant Mr. Garcia’s veteran status was in doubt.

I doubt his “PTSD” was overlooked.  The Corps just doesn’t accept it for an excuse to be a shit bird.  Smoking pot and being a drunk are not acceptable in the military.  Ms Goldberg seems to think PTSD is a valid excuse for being UA, smoking dope and being a drunk.

There are consequences for actions, not having all the benefits those who served and were discharged honorably get is part of it.

Shouldn’t his years of service have been enough? Not according to the VA. In reviewing veteran status, the VA starts by looking at discharge characterizations. It presumes those with honorable or general discharges are veterans. In contrast, those with bad paper—other-than-honorable or bad-conduct discharges—have the burden of proving their veteran status and of waiting years without much-needed benefits while the VA decides.

Service members who receive bad paper should not necessarily be deprived of benefits. While some are discharged for serious offenses, many are not. Thousands receive bad paper because behaviors symptomatic of PTSD from combat or sexual assault are interpreted as misconduct. These service members deserve support, not punishment.

Ms Goldberg doesn’t seem to understand that a diagnosis of PTSD is given to people who were never anywhere near combat and were not sexually assaulted.  Shitbirds make all kinds of claims and I doubt many of the claims her client made about his service.

It was a bureaucratic nightmare. The VA repeatedly ignored evidence, including the opinion of one of its own psychologists. Mr. Garcia waited three years and four months just to be denied veteran status without explanation. The dysfunction continued during his appeal, but on Oct. 26, 2018, eight years and nine months after Mr. Garcia first applied, a VA adjudicator granted him recognition as a veteran.

Calling Mr. Garcia lucky should be laughable. But compared with the majority of former service members with bad paper, he is. The VA denies these veterans status roughly 85% of the time. On appeal, the VA denies eligibility to three-quarters of former service members with bad paper who participated in combat and have PTSD.

Lawyers are all too eager to file against the VA these days.  They rarely do this work for free, so the VA ends up spending a bunch of money on these benefit vultures.

I have no issue with people getting medical treatment for anything that actually did happen during their military service.  I make a great objection to the VA paying back wages, paid backdated benefits and having the discharge characterization of a doper and a drunk upgraded years later.

The VA should expand the categories of former service members it presumes are veterans, starting with other-than-honorable discharges. These discharges aren’t serious enough to require court-martial proceedings; they don’t call for serious penalties after service either. At minimum the VA needs to streamline its review process. Ignoring evidence and issuing cryptic denials should not be tolerated. Veterans already wait too long in too many lines.

The lines we have wait in might be a bit shorter if they were not full of shit birds and professional victims trying to get more money every month from the very system they constantly bitch about.

What do we know?  Its not like there is anyone who deployed more than once and has been diagnosed with PTSD around these parts.

 

 

Source: He Has a Purple Heart, but the VA Wouldn’t Call Him a Veteran – WSJ

Category: Exploitation, General Whackos, Legal, Liberals suck

Comments (75)

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  1. Sapper3307 says:

    Sorry Charlie,
    The USMC/your employer told you no weed.
    Life is full choices.

  2. AW1Ed says:

    “…staff attorney at Swords to Plowshares…”

    How’s that saying go, “Those who turn their swords into plowshares, will plow for those who did not.”

    Thought so.

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      There are lots of folks and organizations that do not care what effectiveness remains in our armed forces, and some that actively seek to render the armed forces impotent and useless.

      Removing the consequences of shitbirditus, and of indiscipline, is a major tool of that gelding.

      And they know damn well what they are doing, and to whom, and why.

      Just one more example of a kind of cultural AIDS, that used to be called “sedition” and in stronger doses “treason”.

      This -matters-. Someone needs to send a giant “fark off” to these useless idiots.

  3. USAF RET says:

    so court-martial them instead of discharging them. More training for the Services JAGs. Bang — she got her way. Now the shitbird has his well-earned BCD

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      Exactly. Where is the line to be drawn? If someone catches a break and is booted instead of imprisoned, that someone is now the victim. My ass.

  4. MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    I have some things in my head.

    I own them and work those things daily.

    I don’t smoke weed, misbehave or randomly punch people in the face.

    PTSD can be managed.

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      I’m with you Master Chief. Never pissed hot, got a DUI, and wasn’t UA, Military or Civilian.

      Also heard it said this way. “Those who beat their swords into plowshares may one day find themselves under the yoke of those who kept their swords.”

      If y’all need me I’ll be over at the sharpening wheel.

      • Cameron Kingsley says:

        Do you take special orders? I would like a Persian scimitar and a rapier with King Neptune engraved on it.

        • rgr769 says:

          Those are both available from Swords-R-us.com. You will have arrange your own engraving, as they are made in Crapistan.

    • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

      And that’s awesome, and you are to be commended. I suspect you know some LEOs who choose to self medicate though, the same as we all know some veterans who self medicate.

      There’s a lot of data that suggests first responders such as EMT/LEO and veterans exposed to trauma over multiple exposures are more likely to self medicate to address their emotions. The 22-a-day hashtag didn’t pop up out of a vacuum.

      Everything can be managed, some people just need outside assistance to get there. We have people who comment here who openly admit their’ experiences almost cost them their lives to suicide.

      • David says:

        Seems to me Jonn once mentioned that the vast majority of those 22 a day were non-combat, over 50, non-PTSD Cold War vets?

        • Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

          As the GWOT vets age out we’ll see if that continues or not. My point is largely that there are issues for veterans, for LEOs, and other first responders.

          If we actually support those people with more than bullshit lip service perhaps it’s time to put our money where are mouths have been for a long time.

          • NHSparky says:

            Given the numbers who have served are rapidly dropping, that suicide figure will likely drop as well.

            What I’d be interested to know is if the RATE of suicide is comparable to others within similar age groups, educational, financial, and racial backgrounds.

            YMMV.

        • rgr769 says:

          That figure came from the media and is likely bogus. Remember the VA has had over 13 million claiming to be Vietnam vets. How many phonies have we had here who had family members convinced they were really veterans but couldn’t make the Gunga Dan line. If “Killer Ranger” MacBeth ever offs himself, he will certainly be counted as one of the 22.

      • MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

        “Everything can be managed, some people just need outside assistance to get there. We have people who comment here who openly admit their’ experiences almost cost them their lives to suicide”.

        Agreed, symptoms have varied degrees, and some do need help.

        Being Irish … I medicate with my “mothers milk” Jamison Irish Whiskey.

      • The Other Whitey says:

        I’m a first responder with diagnosed PTS. I don’t self-medicate, but the fact that I didn’t and still don’t drink or smoke likely has something to do with that. A friend of mine once observed that the closest he’s ever seen me to taking a drink was also the closest he’s ever seen me to becoming a suicidal alcoholic. Moderation was never my strong suit, even before my issues developed. Even when the state shrink wanted to prescribe me some psych meds and sleeping pills, I flat-out refused. She assured me that the meds she recommended were non-addictive, but I told her I wouldn’t take a chance on it, nor would I pop pills for an artificial good mood. But that’s just me.

      • Outcast says:

        Couple tunnel rats here have gone over to the dark side and used to combat their minds. One has passed and other is still around.

    • SFC D says:

      Bingo, Master Chief. There was a time when self-medicating with copious amounts of Jameson’s was an issue, but that seemed to clear after splitting from the woman that was aggravating the PTSD. Even with the drinking, there was no weed, misbehavior, violence, not even a speeding ticket. PTSD is a problem to be dealt with, not an excuse.

    • Jarhead says:

      Ditto for me exactly, Chief. Seems to me many of those who ridicule a PTSD diagnosis have had little or no “Kill or be killed” experiences in repetition throughout lengthy periods. As for an occasional “toke”, guilty starting in RVN and lasting a few years after returning home. Eventually I gave it up and I guess grew up. No matter, there were MANY ground troops (knowing only 10% of those in country actually took part in combat) who experienced the tempting devil weed. Of those who are unable to manage their ongoing PTSD, who knows what is even deeper in their head than ours? Life goes on for most of us and we deal with it. IMHO, the best preventative medicine is finding a purpose in life and keeping busy. There’s one hell of a lot of people in society who never even wore the uniform, worked a boring job all their lives just to maintain a steady pay check, and they are more f____d up than any of us.

  5. Andjew says:

    Devil’s Advocate:

    Marijuana criminilization is bullshit, and denying benifits to a combat veteran with a purple heart for using marijuana is ridiculous.

    Yeah, he broke the rules. They had to open rehab centers just for folks who came home from Vietnam with a drug problem. You’re willing to erase 9 years of honorable service because he ingested a naughty plant? The VA is under constant pressure to investigate marijuana as a treatment for PTSD. How the fuck they going to do that, while denying this man treatment for war wounds?

    • David says:

      Or you could look at it as “given orders to not do something he chronically disobeyed them.” Same thing. He made a choice, but is unwilling to take the consequences.

    • USAF RET says:

      article didn’t say he was discharged for weed. Said he was using marij, drinking to excess and getting into altercations with other Marines. Sounds like “pattern of misconduct” rather than a hot UA. At any rate those rules are no freaking secret. Personally don’t think weed is as destructive as alcohol but that isn’t the state of the law and wasn’t when he was discharged

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      Indiscipline is -utterly- corrosive to unit cohesion and effectiveness.

      As stated, it wasn’t just getting blasted on the wrong molecule. Getting drunk out-of-bounds is also UCMJ bait.

      If the folks that act out are not subject to strong consequences, what purpose does it serve folks to stay in bounds?

      We all have the choice and ability to Do Right, or not. And even when screwups happen, one can usually pay the piper and rejoin the team.

      Those who consistently and continually will not discipline themselves are a burden and a danger, and earn their fate.

      Friend of Bill W here. This is square in my lane. Talked to more folks than I can count. Some decided to straighten up. Some decided to wallow. I am not a man of great willpower, yet here I sit, sober for 37 years. I -chose- to ask for help.

      He could, too. Still can. Pity party won’t help.

    • MSG Eric says:

      Even if Marijuana was legalized federally, it would probably still be illegal in the military.

      So, whether it is legal or not, he used and abused while still in uniform. And, if he had said he had a substance abuse problem when he first got in trouble for it, he could’ve gone through a program that might very well have wiped it off his record.

      It’s a tough one because of PTSD, but still he had other avenues to work through it without getting kicked having bad paper.

      • rgr769 says:

        Even back in my days of the Hippies, my troops in the Viet of the Nam would not tolerate anyone smoking the wacky weed in the woods. When we were in the rear on stand-down, well, that was a different story. No sane soldier wants to go on patrol with a point man who is high on anything.

        • OldSoldier54 says:

          ” No sane soldier wants to go on patrol with a point man who is high on anything.”

          It always amazes me that anyone could not understand that simple concept.

    • Mason says:

      “You’re willing to erase 9 years of honorable service because he ingested a naughty plant?”

      Short answer: Yes.

      Long answer: Where do you draw the line? Cocaine? Heroin? Those are just “naughty plant(s) by your logic. It’s a forbidden drug. We all know this. We’re all told (repeatedly) this. He knew what he was doing. He needs to own his mistakes. Now it looks like we’ll taxpayers own his mistakes for him.

    • Jeffery Monroe says:

      He violated The UCMJ dickwad that’s why!! Marijuana Should be illegal and it is a dangerous drug got that!

  6. AnotherPat says:

    This is Swords To Plowshares website:

    https://www.swords-to-plowshares.org

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      Berserkely…Well that does ‘splain a lot. Wonder if larsie boi studies “under” her. After all, she is listed as a “fellow” in good standing.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      I thinks it’s ironic that she takes this and other military-related cases on, but has never spent a single day in uniform.

      Doesn’t know jack shit about life in the service, but does the SJW thing when she thinks someone has been done in by the military.

      All the atta-boys in the world don’t mean a thing when you fuck up.

  7. Andjew says:

    They drug tested 873 returning soldiers from Vietnam. half showed signs of drug use while in theater. When are we cutting these dude’s benefits? “Rules are rules, the marine corps told you drugs were bad.”

    http://www.rkp.wustl.edu/VESlit/RobinsAmJEpid1974.pdf

    • NHSparky says:

      And until 1981, there was no whiz quiz. You had to be physically caught doing the drugs to get busted.

      Different era, different standards.

      • B-Bob says:

        There was a piss test, for opiates and chemicals. The piss test for pot came in and they gave it at 7th ID and 25th ID. In 2 MI BN’s over half the troops pissed hot for pot. The command basically gave everybody a “mulligan” and tested again 45 days later. Shortly thereafter a policy came down mandating discharge of any E5 or above getting caught hot.

        I have met some people who were thrown out for bad paper, all of them were stationed at Hood, and all of them shortly after returning from deployments. Basically it boiled down to the command not wanting to work with people, and chaptering troops was easier than doing the right thing.

  8. Wilted Willy says:

    Shitbird!

  9. Ex-PH2 says:

    Shoveling snow piled up on your sidewalk by Mother Nature will do a wonderful job of helping you manage your PTSD. Likewise, digging a garden with a shovel instead of a small tractor, and chopping wood.

    When someone claims PTSD, I start getting the symptoms myself for having to read about it. I find great solace in chocolate ice cream and popcorn.

    • Doc Savage says:

      Cats. 🙂

      • Club Manager, USA ret. says:

        Roger that. And all the better if they are rescued and fixed. We have three, the 9 year old executive cat, the 3 year old tom who rules the house, and the 3 year old resident stray mitten kitten. Their loving drains the stress right out of a person.

        • Used to be still serving says:

          Yes cats. We have 4 awesome cats. They are great therapy@

        • Jarhead says:

          Give this some thought and possibly correlation. For a few years I lived in a small community where roughly 85% of the population lacked even a high school diploma. More than a few marriages were always dealing with abuse. The notion finally occurred to me that the vast majority of men who beat on their wives were born-again cat HATERS. It was a control issue and we all know cats march to their own drum beat. That doesn’t
          mean all cat haters are wife beaters, but I do believe all wife beaters are cat HATERS. Have to close for now as ours are demanding their supper on time and as expected by them. Damned little control freaks!

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      Well, of course! Where would we be without them?

    • Twist says:

      One of things that helps me deal with my PTSD is adult coloring books. Whenever I feel my anxiety getting bad I just pull out the book and my colored pencils. I know it sounds childish, but I enjoy it and it works for me.

      • SFC D says:

        My dad always said “if it sounds silly, but it works, it ain’t silly”.

      • MSG Eric says:

        Don’t think that would’ve worked for him though, he was a Marine. He’d have mistaked the pencils for crayons and tried eating them.

      • Mason says:

        I haven’t tried those for mine yet. I do like crossword puzzles though. Therapist says that those types of things that use your logical brain over the emotional are helpful at alleviating symptoms. That and yoga, which I’ve only been able to do a few times and take myself seriously.

  10. Perry Gaskill says:

    Dave, as a matter of picky copy editor housekeeping, it might have been useful to link to the original story at:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/he-has-a-purple-heart-but-the-va-wouldnt-call-him-a-veteran-11550015053

    Also, when using names of people, the standard practice is to use the full name on first attribution; the attorney is Rose Carmen Goldberg.

    The reason I’m pointing this out is because the original Wall Street Journal piece amounts to not much more than an advertorial for Swords to Plowshares. Anybody trying to do real journalism would have made some attempt to confirm Garcia’s story by talking to Marines he served with. Fairness would have also meant talking to the VA to get their side of Garcia’s claim.

    An additional dog not barking is that Goldberg leaves out any significant detail about why Garcia got “bad paper” in the first place. My own guess is that it was an omission by design.

    • rgr1480 says:

      Perry says: “…An additional dog not barking….”

      Must be a Holmes fan!

      Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

      Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

      Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

      Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

  11. NHSparky says:

    Millions of veterans faced the same traumas, trials, and tribulations, and did not become druggies and/or drunks.

    No, Ms. Goldberg, the Marines did not “overlook” his PTSD. They recognized that there were underlying issues, but HE, not the Corps, chose to self-medicate his issues, and illegally at that.

    Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

  12. 26Limabeans says:

    Reminds me of the Spice guy couple a months back. He was entertaining.

    • NHSparky says:

      And I’d venture to guess this gent has the same lack of accountability for his actions as the other one showed.

      It’s almost like it was a pattern or something.

  13. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    I think issues like this are more complex than they first appear, largely because the United States doesn’t address mental illness without a stigma. We don’t consider that it’s not perhaps mental illness so much as mental injury. Consequently we don’t consider mental injuries in the same way we consider physical injuries.

    I’m not suggesting this man should be granted full benefits and privileges that accompany honorable service but perhaps if he’s been injured mentally by what we’ve exposed him to he should be entitled to treatment for that injury. Maybe not disability, but psychological help to move past that injury.

    We all have a tendency to look at these types of injuries and dismiss them because it’s not an injury that’s easy to see or understand. However when we look at the data we discover that people exposed to trauma on a regular basis are more likely to self medicate, it’s true of service members and it’s true of LEOs and even EMT first responders. There’s a reason that alcoholism among first responders is not an unknown issue, and we are all aware of how many vets choose suicide after their self medication doesn’t work.

    I don’t know if this guy is a turd who is just looking for a free ride or someone with an actual issue as a result of his experiences. I think as a nation before we worry about billionaires getting tax free stadiums and properties we might consider spending a couple of bucks making sure the men and women we claim to support are actually getting treatment for the results of our sending them places on multiple deployments where they see things no one should see on a regular basis.

    This guy might have been a turd before his service or his service might have exacerbated his pre-existing issues, but it’s long past the time we consider that mental injuries invisible to the eye are possible for those exposed to constant trauma. The supporting data is there regarding our first responders I suspect it’s also there with our veteran community as well.

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      PTSD is as real as soldier’s heart, shell shock, and combat fatigue were. The proper targets for our scorn are the SOBs who think that bad memories constitute PTSD and that they deserve compensation for that alone. It’s a shame that they do such damage to those of our Veterans who truly suffer psychic injury. It’s a shame, too, that some people do not bother to distinguish between the sufferers and the pretenders.

      • Outcast says:

        I withdrew my registration for PTSD and Agent Orange as to the entire VA showed that I only served between 69 and 73. Now I have used black magic marker so the DD-214, that I have kept, reflects only that and of course anything else I have kept are being sorted out of my files here and pitched, so will not show anything else and any of those free cub scout merit badges, I find, will join them. Am just a McNamara Moron as records in VA show who never left the states.

        • OWB says:

          Not worried about what the VA records show as long as the retirement check continues to reflect my correct time in service. No need for markers here.

          • Outcast says:

            Somewhere in the stuff I’m pitching there is things that show 7-7-21 as service but why try anything to correct anything for the Govt. I’ve been told to fight system to correct it but that is what I’ve apparently mistakenly thought I did in the 3+ years that they don’t seem to care about, 65-69, Phucat AB RVN, and what ever else. Oh well so be it as they see it, just waste of my time and more important things for me to do, feed cats, do dishes and be sure other half’s medical needs are taken care of. I don’t get check so is not my problem as do not ever expect to qualify for one for only documented as serving from 69-73 and they get pay raise as have body on roster but no longer have the expenses to VA. Another 13 years wasted, like those before them prior to 69.

  14. Outcast says:

    This article should bring great comfort to the mother of Shannon Kent and to Denise Williams as it is part of the answer to some of their questions about the others that were serving with their sons on that fateful day and as to those that would represented them in the DVA. If I were closer I would go find where Carlton is and ask him about this as in a few hours it becomes a new day in another country and 51 years ago on what is becoming the 14th he might have seen one like this that was covering his back. RIP, I’m one who is sorry that I failed you there while I was there also.

  15. Ex-PH2 says:

    There’s that whole thing the VA has started for women about sexual trauma, and all its related stuff, which is fine because we’ve seen enough crap posted here about women who have been abused by various people.

    BUT – if some of the sailors I had to work with hadn’t been such a bunch of jerks, I wouldn’t be the bitch I am today. So, yeah, I could go whine to a shrink at the VA about it. We all can, but what’s the point? Better to spend time doing something constructive, like making a big pot of BBQ beans with smoked sausage for supper and finding a new home for all the books my mother left behind.

    • 5th/77th FA says:

      “making a big pot of BBQ beans with smoked sausage…..”

      What time is supper? I eat, and I read too…Do I need to bring cornbread? Is it Thursday already?

      I was working on a Persian Scimitar, special order, but I can put it aside.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I was thinking cole slaw and cornbread would be good with that, so yes.

      • 5th/77th FA says:

        Yes it would be. Have the last of my brownies from Saturday batch and some Vanilla Bean Turkey Hill Premium for our desert. To bad for me it’s prolly 800 miles.

  16. Club Manager, USA ret. says:

    I don’t know. If a troop has service connected physical wounds, regardless of the discharge they should be entitled to VA medical care. As for the rest of the entitlements, the bad paper trumps all. What the Marines should be asking is WTF did he get weed in a combat zone and from whom.

    • MSG Eric says:

      Every member of my team in Afghanistan got pictures of themselves standing in a weed field and they worked in 3 different districts.

      My PTSD is that I never got that same opportunity in my districts. I had poppy fields, but never grown up enough to be picture worthy.

      Getting drugs in theater is as easy as getting them in prison. Someone might have to hold them in an unfun place, but they get there.

  17. Green Thumb says:

    Fuck this guy.

    Honor is about fulfilling your contract.

    Substandard Discharge = Shitbag.

    Swords to Plowshares are a bunch of shitbags as well.

    • Jay says:

      I can concur with that. We all have our crosses to bear, either physical, mental, or spiritual. No one put the drink in his hand or rolled the J for him but he sure partook of them himself.

  18. Brian Dunn says:

    Understanding from what this Marine went thru since I myself had some unique problems coming back from Afghanistan with a Purple Heart and seeing some shit and I’m just asking for my tinnitus to be approved lol. Did he do things that may have been triggered by underlying conflict with PTSD-sure and there should be discipline but I give this Marine a lot more credit than the shitbags I’ve seen come thru the VA for limited flexion of their pussy, flat feet, diabetes-colitis and IBS from getting jizzed up the ass-ALL BULLSHIT GENETIC OR LIFESTLYE choices-military didn’t cause it or aggravate it and even if it did that don’t mean you get that Veterans Welfare check and go out and have citizens thank you for your service by having a disabled Vets plate on your car-POS

  19. OldSoldier54 says:

    “If people who do not complete their tour of service honorably get the same benefits that those who do … then there is no honor in military service.”

    Bad decisions lead to bad consequences. It’s not rocket science, and for Good Order and Discipline, that standard must remain.

    And this whole “Swords to Plowshares” thing … this is what happens when Scripture is taken out of context.

    This isn’t to be done until after the Son of Man returns. Not one nanosecond before, or you will, indeed, be plowing for those who kept theirs. ‘Cause that’s just how this world is.

  20. rgr769 says:

    The version of that plowshares to swords stuff that is the most accurate truism: “Those that beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those that don’t.” Or, as a fellow named Mao once said: “All political power comes out of the barrel of gun.”

  21. jonp says:

    Ms. Goldberg is a supervising staff attorney at Swords to Plowshares, a veterans rights organization in San Francisco, and a lecturer at UC Berkeley School of Law.

    I didn’t have to read any further

  22. 5jc says:

    There is a lot more to this story than smoking a joint and getting the BCD boot. I know plenty who were shown the door with a GD for flunking the pee test and can’t think of a single one who was given a BCD for that sole reason. But this is what we have so for the moment I will take it a face value.

    I can’t really speak to whatever demons someone else is facing but most of the time people who smoked weed before service were the ones who came up hot later in service; whatever their excuse. At the end of the day PTSD is just another excuse. If he had sought help, told the doc he could not sleep due to PTSD instead of self medicating with weed there would have been no failed pee test.

    Weed is less harmful and less dangerous than alcohol, although the new designer formulations border on dangerous especially when combined with other substances. As a cop given the choice between dealing with a pothead or dealing with a drunk I will take the pot head 99 times out of 100. They tend to run less violent and crazy relative to all other intoxicating substances while drunks tend to be some of the worst. While legal locally a few places it is now violation or misdemeanor most everywhere else in the country. Yes, it is part of the deal for the military.

    Personally I don’t use substances. I find great solace in a forgiving God. It was only through the forgiveness of others that I was able to find the grace to deal with my failures and bad experiences that I had lived through while off fighting in foreign lands. At the end of the day if we don’t have the strength to forgive others their trespasses then we won’t be able to accept forgiveness for ourselves. We may not be worthy grace; but God forgives us anyway. Who are we to do less?

    Here with this man we have such a rarity in this day and age. It’ a question of honor, fidelity, fraternity. What is the motto of the Marines? Semper Fidelis. This is understood to be a lifelong commitment. Such commitments are hard in this era of impermanence and Garcia was clearly found wanting in the long run on his part by his misconduct. A decision was made by the Command that he had broken faith badly enough that he was no longer an honorable Marine and then made to go. While I am in no position to judge their decision I think we can all agree that sometimes commanders make bad decisions, I know I did. I think it likely however they made the correct decision at the time based upon his conduct. But there is more to it.

    You see, for a single day, likely many days of his life (if his story is true) he was willing to lay down his life for his brothers. He took a wound and pulled through. He lost brothers along the way and this is no easy thing. It tends to make one doubt oneself and even hate yourself a little. The eternal question that everyone who has BTDT asks; “Why am I still here when the others are not?”

    There is no proper answer to that question in this life.

    The penalty for a BCD is very high. It is high to discourage bad behavior. But if someone is engaging in bad behavior as part of self destructive cycle due to being messed up in the head from PTSD they may be seeking to punish themselves and this could be the perfect mechanism. Does this make Garcia a victim? A victim of himself maybe.

    So then we are left to ask; “Does he deserve grace? Does he deserve forgiveness?”

    Certainly on a personal level yes. For the Marines I can’t say. But since he was willing to lay down his life for his brothers on one particular day I will say he has the right to ask.