One Marine veteran’s story: Rick Collier
by Rick Collier
The Oregonian, April 26, 2012,
My name is Rick Collier. I’m a Marine Iraq Veteran and Founder of No Soldier Left Behind, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit for Military Veterans.
I’m writing you today in hopes to share my story, and help thousands of Veterans like myself. Stories like mine aren’t shared often and I think it’s time we speak up and start healing together. Helping me share my story might also save lives. Here’s a small version of my story.
9/11 was where it all started. I was a senior in high school as I stood and watched the news coverage in my school’s library. The horror of the planes hitting the twin towers shocked all who watched and we just stood silent.
The pain I felt watching our own be attacked and murdered lit a fire inside. Within six weeks of the attacks I was fully contracted with the Marine Corps. Infantry was my job.
That summer I hit basic training and earned my title as a US Marine. I then went off to guard duty then School of Infantry. During my training we were all informed we would soon be using these techniques in combat. We were at war and I was ready to fight.
After School of Infantry I was flown to Kuwait with dozens of other young Marines. We arrived in country just 3 days before the war began in Iraq. I was processed then transported to my unit who was awaiting orders along the Iraq border. Within hours of arrival, my new unit and I were given orders to invade. I was soon fighting a war with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn, 1st Marine Division.
Once I knew what was causing my pain and behavior, I sought out treatment at the VA and with Veterans Service Officers. With each person I talked to, I was turned away due to my discharge. I spent years trying to get help with PTSD and my suicidal thoughts to find no hope and no help anywhere. — Rick Collier, former Marine Iraq veteran
My time in country left me with traumas and exposures no human should see or be a part of. It also created an environment in which hazing and death threats were part of my ritual coming from my NCO. Without knowing it, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) soon became my reality and at 18 I started to lose control of my life.
Shortly after my return my best friend Daniel Parker died in Iraq. I was the lead pallbearer for his military funeral. After losing Daniel, I felt I lost everything. I struggled with lack of family and support upon my return and found Daniel’s death, combined with my PTSD, set me over the edge.
I tried getting help from my command. I spoke with my NCOs in charge and even a Sgt from another platoon. I couldn’t take the harassment from my NCO both in country and at home, topped with PTSD and the loss of my best friend. With lack of help I began to drink and numb my pain. My suicidal ideation grew and I began to lose sight of who I was. I ended up going UA (unauthorized absence) with suicide in mind.
When I was brought back to base by Marine Corps Chasers I soon found myself in the brig again with no help from my command. I was left to deal with PTSD in a cell, like a POW. After a couple months in the brig I was court martialed and given a Bad Conduct Discharge. All I needed was help, I never wanted out.
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Filed under: Resources | Tagged: 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn, 1st Marine Division, Bad Conduct Discharge, Camp Pendleton, Combat, Congress, Court-Martial, Daniel Parker, Deployment, Depression, Discharge Upgrade, Infantry, Iraq, Marine Corps, Mental Health, Military Suicide, No Soldier Left Behind, PTSD, Rick Collier, Stigma, Stress, Suicide, Suicide prevention, TBI, Veterans, Veterans Affairs, Veterans Service Officer, War |