In July 2001, my husband retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant in United States Marine Corps. For 24 years he served his country with extreme passion and integrity. Adjustment back to civilian life proved to be difficult only because government and private sector employers did not recognize the supreme training of service members and how those skills really did easily transition back into government and private sector jobs. My husband had submitted hundreds of applications online and hardcopy applications to many jobs, and finally was accepted for a position at the county’s juvenile detention facility at half his salary of a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. But he gladly accepted it and promised them one year of service. Finally, a start in the civilian world beyond the Corps. Employment in this new world did not come as easily as we both had expected. This was a very difficult time for us; we had never expected it would take so long (over six months) to be offered a position with the government or any private employer. The strain on our family was almost unbearable, but we survived.
Scott continued to apply for positions with the federal government since veterans preference was his earned benefit. He eventually landed in a position with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as Liaison to INTERPOL's United States National Central Bureau in Washington, D.C. Scott excelled in his position, and although he started as a GS-9, within the next five years he continued to promote and made his way up to a GS-14. He thoroughly enjoyed his position, every day was a challenge and he looked forward to work each day. However all that was soon going to change.
In December 2010, my husband was diagnosed with GBM stage IV terminal brain cancer. They gave him six months to live. Scott immediately knew what had caused the cancer. He often told me that when he was stationed on the battleships around the world, that he could actually “smell the radiation” when he was on deck. But it was his job, it was part of his duty, it was part of what he was - he was a Marine.
Given the best possible medical treatment provided by TRI-Care Prime, surgery followed by radiation, followed by chemo, my husband survived for an amazing two years, with me by side. And during those two years he was able to write his own obituary, write his own funeral instructions, his own will and make sure I and our children would be able to continue when he passed.
My husband Scott, has been gone from this earth for two very long and lonely years now and I miss him very much; every day is a loss- I don't know how I have survived. His amazing strength and fortitude was due to the training and his faith in the Marine Corps and this great country.
However, I realize things could've been different, things could've been much easier for him and his family. Transitioning back from active duty into the private sector was a harrowing experience and a terrifying time for his family. We needed support that was lacking. As I read through this website, (Battle Proven Foundation (BPF)) I see that now there is a place where help is available, for active-duty veterans and those who been out of the service for a while, to find employment and the services they need to fully transition back into active fully productive lives. If only this site and these people had been around when we needed them four years ago. If the BPF had been functioning when my husband had fallen sick from terminal brain cancer, how much more comforted would my husband have felt leaving us alone on this earth?
I now feel a sense of hope for those service men and women in today's world, who will be helped by Battle Proven Foundation; they will receive guidance and information; provided resources and simply have someone listen to their fears and concerns – and to be comforted at this difficult time in their lives. This foundation will be there for those now, where none existed for us four years ago.
So now there is hope where before, none existed.
Michele W. Virginia