That Blessed Piece of Paper : The DD-214 and Why this Thing Started
Nothing like the glorious DD Form 214. It is the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, is a document of the United States Department of Defense, issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation, or discharge from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States.
It's bonkers how an 8.5 X 11-inch piece of paper can have a lifespan of meanings for a Marine, Sailor, Soldier, Airman, or Coast Guardsman. Early on as a slick-sleeved Private I remember it as a mythical creature so far in the future that the thought of it would disappear almost as quickly as it came. After many nights in the mud, desert, jungle, ship galley, locked down in the barracks, or (insert a "How did I end up here?" situation) it became part of the finish line. It was almost a goal. On the day I received mine, the Admin Clerk was able to type it up in just a few minutes. Over 4 years of service on a sheet of paper. And that was it. It was over. So, I thought.
Initially civilian life was a celebration. Although I had received a Combat Action Ribbon among my awards, neither I nor any of the Marines I served with were injured much less killed in Combat. I spent so much of my time celebrating with a whiskey and beer that I made it my "profession". Operation Enduring Freedom was now in full and swing. The fears of being recalled and fears of all that comes with war l turned my celebration into latent depression. Guilt of not being in the fight tormented me. That period turned into a fog that lasted almost a decade until a little lady saved me from myself. I'll save that love story for another day though. During the "Foggy Times" mentioned above, two Marines that I served with were killed.
On October 15, 2005, Sgt. Mark P Adams had just relieved one of his men in the gun turret of the armored Humvee when shrapnel from a roadside bomb blast struck him just below the back of his Kevlar helmet.
SSgt. Scott C Wood passed away on November 20, 2011 in his sleep. He suffered from injuries sustained in battle and had complications from the prescriptions he received.
You will learn more about these heroes in letters to come. They are the reason this whole thing is happening. I owe it to them.
Sgt. Mark P. Adams
SSgt. Scott C. Wood