PTSD: Don't Leave Vietnam With out It
Bad Conduct Discharge - or not?

© 2009 by Woody Woodworth

When I was in Vietnam in the spring of 1965 I got myself into serious trouble. It was so bad that the Marine Corps put me on a ship and sent me back to San Diego, CA for a Bad Conduct Discharge. Let me back up a year or so and mention that I had been transferred from Co. G 2/6/2 a USMC Rifle Company located at Camp Lejune to 3rd Marine Division Okanawa.

Side note: Most Marines after doing two years in a line outfit usually get a transfer to something other than another infantry outfit, but I wasn't lucky in that department. I got another grunt outfit 1/9/3.

Once I reported to 9th Marines Hq. they sent me TDY from Camp Hanson to Camp Butler. There I became a special Military Policemen and was used for special assigments. I was required to do a lot of muscle jobs to my fellow Marines. In the Marine Corps every thing is done in threes including beating up on a fellow Marine. I was never in charge when I first took the Job and I worked for a Gunnery Sgt and a Warrent Officer.

They liked me and used to give me a lot of time off. I always followed orders and tried not to disciple anyone to the point of death.

I worked with several A/C-D/C Marines, or bisexuals. It was forbidden in the USMC but I never ratted on them as long as they didn't molest me. I had been sexually molested in G2/6/2 and I didn't report it because my squad leader transferred me to a new section. He had an A/C-D/C buddy that said I attacked him so it was a stalemate. This event caused me to deal with prostitutes and I had caught VD five different times.

Shortly before I was sent to Vietnam, I was transferred to Sub unit #1, Headquaters Co, Headquaters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division (Reinforced) FMF Attached to 3/9/3.

The first time I contracted VD, I was counseled and put on 30 days medical restriction. The second time I was counseled by the company commander. He threatened to write a letter to my mother and he gave me 60 days medical restriction. The third time I concealed my VD and had a Navy Corpsman supply me with antibiotics. Then I caught it a fourth time and I lost my contact with the Navy Corpsman because he was charged with manslaughter. When I caught it again the Marine Corps put me on a ship and sent me back to San Diego, CA for a bad conduct discharge.

To my surprise an office poge asked me if I wanted to reinlist. I said that I was sent back to the USA from Vietnam and would be awaiting a BCD, so I answered him, "How could you ask me about a reinlistment?" The office poge replied, "According to your 201 file there is no record of any BCD forthcoming.  You have three choices: you can either extend, reinlist, or be transferred to the USMCR with a Honorable DD-214. "What Do You want?"

I'm not the smartest Jarhead in the world but I'm not brain dead and I want to get the hell out of here. I knew with a BCD I'd have to lie on all work applications in the civilian world the rest of my life.  I also realized there was a great chance of not being able to father children as a result of VD. I was right because I wound up about 90% sterile.

A few days after being honorably-released from the Marine Corps I flew home to Buffalo, NY and soon reported to a VA representative in the county seat of Lockport, NY. The VA representative was a WWII Navy Veteran who I highly respected but he didn't show me any respect for the four years I had served in the USMC.  I asked him politely if he would look over my DD-214 and let me know if I had any government benefits coming to me?   He said, "No you have nothing." I repeated this back to him a second and third time and then he got irritated with me then raised his voice and told me in strong field language, "Get your sorry ass across the street and file that DD-214 and get the hell out of my office!" I asked him where do I report to the USMCR?   He replied, "Can't you read--it says here, Garden City Long Island NY and Buffalo, NY is out of the question because it is filled up with guys like you!"   So I left his office believing him for approximately 40 years.

I suffered with PTSD and never had any idea of how to treat it.  With my Honorable DD-214 I was able to get many jobs but I never could hold on to them very long. I was not lazy and always showed up for work but I had a bad temper and found myself getting into fights with other employees and then I was fired from the job.  I managed not to get arrested, and kept out of jail.

It wasn't easy for me to get back into the military but I worked hard and retired after 24 years of service.  I completed eight years in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, then was fired in my 12th year because I didn't make Staff Seargent.  They sumitted a negative fitness report to Washington, DC stating my leadership was unsatisfactory because I had the lack of force.  In addition, I completed one year in the United States Air Force Reserves on a try-one program.  Finally I finished up my military career and the New York Army National Guard.

My military career was very difficult for me and I found some peace hanging around Combat Vets like myself.  The Combat Vets frequently counseled each other and we were able to work out our problems.

My wife and I were blessed and had one son.  When he grew up he joined the Army and has a military career the same as mine. He also is a comat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.   About the time I retired from the army, my wife noticed my personality changed, since I was suffering from PTSD and didn't realize it, and I was taking my frustrations out on her verbally.

In 2000, a Vietnam buddy that also suffered from PTSD suggested to me that I open up a government claim.  After a lot of help from my wife and many counselors and psychiatrists at the VA hospital in Buffalo NY it was proven that I had PTSD before going to Vietnam, during Vietnam and after Vietnam and it was all connected to the military.

First I was rated at 20% disability then after an appeal it went to 40%, and then one more appeal it went to 60%. Then the governent awarded me another 40% since I was unemployable. I thought I hit the lottery when the government deposited $5,000 in my savings account, then I received $23,000, and then $60,000.00 back pay. And then I received $9,000 back pay from the army.

I spend a great deal of time at the VA now and belong to a number of veterans organizations and try and do my best to help all Vets that suffer from PTSD, like our son and so many other vets coming back fron Afghanistan and Iraq I try and help them out.

At the present time I'm making as much money as a retired general, but I would trade it all away just to get back my rabbit-ass mind.

In conclusion, I'm not a very religious man.  Both my wife and I have Jewish ancestry, but we raised our son in Protestantism and Judaism until he was bar mitzhaved.  Then we all took RCIA traning and became Romain Catholics. It's the only religion that offers a guy like me purgatory.  The bottom line is I don't want to go to hell, I already came back from there.

Semper Fi,