PFC Judson Parkin received a Purple Heart Medal for his service in Iraq. His first lieutenant wrote about him:
“He performed his duties in an outstanding manner and never wavered under fire. He upheld the Marine Corps tradition of bravery, risking his life…”
In fact, Parkin was rewarded with seven medals and ribbons in three years of service.
One little problem: right before his deployment to Iraq, they found less than a gram of marijuana in his room. This didn’t prevent them from shipping him out, but after he returned…
As the time passes, his ordeal looks more and more like a quote from Kafka, with endless circling of a bureaucratic machine around and around the same issue, never moving an inch ahead, multiple punishments for the same insignificant crime and growing numbers of official letters confirming the receipt of a complaint, but never bringing any solution.
“During Private Parkin’s deployment, he was not recommended for promotion because of his past drug abuse,” wrote Major J.R. Jurgensen of the U.S. Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs in December 2005 in response to Senator Feinstein request about Parkin’s fate.
Not recommended for promotion? That’s punishment number one.
“His punishment included reduction in rank…” That’s punishment number two. “…the recommendation for an Other than Honorable [discharge] (OTH).” And that’s punishment number three.
“If the Marine Corps discharges me as OTH,” wrote Parkin to Jeff Goldstein, his history teacher in high school, “I will lose ALL my benefits, including the GI Bill and my veteran medical benefits.”
Scary as it sounds, Parkin prepared for the worst, but he could not imagine that yet another punishment, arguably the most severe one, was in store for him.
Since September 2005, when his commanding officer at the time, J. M. Odonnell recommended OTH, Parkin was left at Camp Pendelton as a Remain Behind Element (RBE) to wait for a decision made on his behalf.
In the time period, his papers got lost several times, his chain-of-command officers cannot give him any time frame of the upcoming decision or tell him when his punishment number four will be over, so he spends his days tending to miscellaneous chores — from gardening to heavy lifting — and basically rotting away.
This is unbelievable.
I can understand the military having rules about the use of drugs and alcohol (and particularly having time and place rules), but this kind of stupidity in our government is harmful. If his infraction was really that serious, they shouldn’t have let him go to Iraq.
This isn’t the only case like this. There were also the 21 Guardsmen in Iowa who tested positive… again just before shipping out.