Marines encounter mental obstacles

By Diana Vilares
April 26, 2007

Diana Vilares

The United States Marine Corps has a “leader’s guide to deployment issues,” which includes sections on “what to look for,” “what to do,” “what to avoid” and “what to expect after taking action.” According to the overview of the guide found on, some Marines can experience “dissatisfaction, disillusionment, depression or domestic violence” if they return from their service time without the “required return and reunion education and decompression time to give them realistic expectations.”

“When I come home, I don’t really feel like I have one,” Anthony Cruz, a Marine’s intelligence specialist, said.

Despite the picture perfect stories of the homecomings televised on numerous news channels and written about in daily papers, troops don’t always come home as they left. Some even come home with the realization that they left with disillusionment about what they were getting themselves into.

“The allure of a combat deployment and all that is involved is greater than I could imagine, but the Marine Corps tends to treat some Marines like children because of other people’s negative actions,” Stephen Norton, a Marine’s intelligence analyst, said.

“I believe my idea of the Marines has changed for the worst. It isn’t what I expected,” Jordan Balsat, a Marine’s maintenance integrated management specialist, said.

“In the Marines most of the higher ups treat you like shit, like you can’t think for yourself. That’s why so many Marines now a days get shot or hurt in the war. They can’t think for themselves because they are so used to getting yelled at and taking orders.”

Granted that some degree of disappointment is expected when someone is put in an emotionally testy position, no guidebook can ever fully prepare someone for the repercussions and feelings associated with death.

In an article on by New York Times’ Benedict Carey, Capt. William Nash, a Navy psychiatrist said that a therapist’s main goal is to “reconstruct the things they [soldiers, troops] used to believe in.”

“One day I was hanging out with the same Marine that the next day I was narrating his passing,” Robert Oehler, a Marine’s intelligence chief and special operations training group, said.

Carey also spoke with Harvard psychologist Richard J. McNally who said that during psychological assessments, the troops should be invited to speak openly about the “camaraderie, leadership and devotion to the mission.about what is meaning and worthwhile, as well as the negative things.”

“I have improved self-esteem, I have a sense of brotherhood, I have developed work-ethics that are sought after by all Fortune 500 companies, I will begin collecting retirement at age 38, I am humble and I love what I do,” Robert Oehker, a Marine’s intelligence chief, special operations training group, said.

War’s underlying purpose is usually to proclaim one a victor and the other a failure. However the loss of a fellow friend or relationship is the thought that runs through the minds of those who are fighting for the freedom that isn’t free.

“Being deployed makes stronger relationships stronger and some weak relationships strong, but at the same time some relationships may just disappear,” Norton said.

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Diana Vilares

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