After being diagnosed with pneumonia at the hospital, I was hooked up to an IV. Medical also prescribed an antibiotic for me and told me to take it every evening. Later that day, a drill instructor took me back to the barracks. When the SDI (senior drill instructor) saw me, she asked mockingly, “So, what's the matter, Kind; you had a sore throat?” I told her that I had pneumonia. I had orders from medical to be on bed rest, so I was told to get into my rack (bed). My SDI told me that she'd had pneumonia before and she had worked through it; she told me that it wasn't a big deal and she said that she didn't feel sorry for me at all. There were flies in the barracks and 5 or 6 of them kept landing on me, so I pulled my blanket over my head and finally went to sleep.
I later woke up and ate some food that my platoon had brought back for me. At the beginning of free time that evening, I asked my SDI for my antibiotic. She didn't give it to me; she told me to come back during details and request it then. During details, I once again got out of my rack and requested my medication. But this time, all I managed to say was, “Recruit Kind requests...” and then the SDI cut me short and told me to get back into my rack. Not long after that, it was lights out. After lights out, the SDI came over to my rack and asked me, “Why didn't you request your meds during details?” I said, “Ma'am, this recruit tried to.” She said, “No, you didn't. So I guess it's not my fault that you didn't get them, is it?” I went without my meds that evening. The next day, I was still in bad shape, having once again coughed throughout the night. I was taken to medical, where the staff saw how poorly I was doing. They asked if I'd had my medication, and when I said I hadn't, they wanted to know why not. In spite of the way I'd been treated up until then, I still tried to cover for my SDI, so I told medical, “This recruit asked for them at the wrong time and wasn't given them.” Because of this, the medical staff wrote on my report, “No excuses; patient must have her meds!” When I brought the report back to my SDI, she became very angry. She accused me of telling medical that she had denied me my medication. “Do you know that I could lose my job over this?” she yelled at me. She called me into her office and demanded to know exactly what I had said to medical. I told her. Then she yelled, “By the way, I'm recording this conversation, and the chief drill instructor will hear about it. And if I find out you're lying, I'm going to drop you!” “Ma'am, this recruit is not lying,” I said. She responded, “Did I ask you that? Get out!” I was sent back to my bed, where I remained for the rest of the day.
During the week that followed, I was in bad shape, physically and emotionally. One morning, when I went to medical, the staff asked me what was wrong. I told them about how my SDI had been treating me. They took a report, which triggered an investigation into my SDI's misbehavior. Ultimately, medical determined that I should be discharged from the Marine Corps.
Before I went to boot camp, I had prepared myself both mentally and physically; I had gotten a high score on the ASVAB test (my military job description was aviation mechanic) and I had done hard workouts nearly every day for a month. I came to boot camp full of motivation and eager to become a Marine, but a month later, I was desperate to get out. Finally, on September 6, I was separated from the Marine Corps with an honorable discharge.
I had joined the Marine Corps because I was attracted to its image; the Marine Corps motto is: “honor, courage, commitment.” Yet during my time on Parris Island, my fellow recruits and I were treated with scorn most of the time. One of my fellow recruits was told, “You are a disease to this platoon; you should just go away.” I could tell of more ill treatment that my fellow recruits and I received, but I don't have enough room to write about everything.
Another Marine Corps saying is: “A Marine never lies, cheats, or steals.” Once my SDI knew that I was being processed out, she told me that my platoon would leave the island before I did. (My platoon was not scheduled to graduate until October 14th, and I arrived home September 9th.) Throughout my time at boot camp, I was lied to many times. I was told that I would be kept on the island for months without pay until the Marine Corps decided that it was convenient to send me home. I was also told that I would get an "other than honorable" discharge. Both of these were lies.
I know that our nation relies on its military and on the Marine Corps specifically. But the Marine Corps has some work to do. When the people who sign up to serve and protect their country are not protected by their country, there is something wrong with this picture. Because there is no effective process to keep drill instructors from abusing the recruits who are supposed to be under their care, something needs to be changed. I have not written about what happened to me in such detail for any other reason than to spark that change.
Note: I want to thank... my father for dropping everything and driving all the way to Parris Island to pick me up, my mother for faithfully writing to me nearly every day I was in boot camp, my entire family for welcoming me back with open arms, and my friends for easing the transition back into civilian life. Thank you also to Mrs. Lowe, Mrs. Withrow, and Ms. Tjader for writing to me in boot camp. And to Ms. Anderson, Mr. Morrow, and Ms. Innes for everything. So many people prayed for me throughout my journey, and I want to thank them. You know who you are. I love all of you. Lastly, but most importantly, I thank God for bringing me through everything and for my safe arrival home.