I am a former corpsman, forward deployed (I will not discuss specific locations), later assigned to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. I separated and finished a BS and started medical school. Have had to leave everything behind due to PTSD. Currently working with the wounded warrior project, but unfortunately homeless. Ask me almost anything (some details I simply can not reveal). This is a healing process for me.

Proof will be submitted to mods in the form of my DD214 documenting my service in Operation Enduring Freedom and awarded the global war on terrorism expeditionary medal, pictures of medals, and documentation of combat pay. I'm not sure how else to do it. Mods, if you have suggestions, I'm open to them.

Edit: in order to provide proof, I need to take screenshots and edit out personal info before sending to the mods. Please feel free to ask questions. Will be back in about 20 min to answer.

EDIT 2: Proof sent to mods at 8:43 EST. Waiting on response to see if I need to submit anything else before answering any other questions.

Edit 3: Mods have asked for more info, which I am providing. Should be up and running shortly.

Edit 4: Provided requested extra proof to mods (I think, fuck my iPad) waiting on response.

Edit 5: fuck it, public proof. Personal pictures of me with my ID and service dog have been sent to the mods

Edit 6: Verified by mods. Ask away. The verification process took longer than I thought, so I may finish this up tomorrow night. Thank you all for your questions.

Edit 7: Thank you all sharing this evening with me. I'm heading to bed and getting ready to head to a VA housing unit tomorrow. I'll let you all know how it goes, and will be on tomorrow to answer more questions. Shout out to the Wounded Warrior Project for showing up in my thread. For any of you other vets, please, please, contact them.

Comments: 84 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

Throwaway_Corpsman46 karma

Also, Hi NSA!

Throwaway_Corpsman31 karma

Here's and interesting tidbit about GTMO... The Guantanamo River empties into the Bay. Cubans would often try to hop in tires and float down the river to get to the base and request asylum. Castro set up a meat packing plant on the river several miles up. They intentionally chummed the river with scraps, thus infesting the river and the lower portion of the bay with bull sharks. There were so many there that swimming and scuba were off limits in certain parts of the bay. Fishing, however, was freaking awesome.

Furnace_Admirer7 karma

PTSD, I don't mean to pester, but my brother is in the Airborne, and someone he trained with and talked to regularly just committed suicide last week. I understand PTSD was involved.

How does PTSD affect you?

and also, thanks for doing this AMA, I understand you're homeless atm and I hope your wounded warrior project goes well.

Throwaway_Corpsman12 karma

It's like living in a constant state of alert. At first, I would see everyone as a potential threat; sizing people up; checking for weapons; always aware of the quickest egress. Crowds were horrible for me. This is actually why I had to take a leave of absence from med school. Medications have helped. Though, I still have flashbacks and panic attacks sometimes. I've gone from having constant nightmares to the point where I just don't remember my dreams anymore.

BUT.... It gets better if you want. Working with the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Homefront, Guardians of Rescue (got me my service dog), Serving the Underserved and so many other organizations has given me hope for the future.

These next few months are going to be rough. All my stuff is in storage atm, and I have to go to a transitional housing unit at the VA tomorrow. But I have several possible job opportunities and I'm getting back on my feet.

I'm terribly sorry to hear about your friend. I admit I have suicidal ideations every day, but it's never something I would act on. But I can understand (to an extent) why.

Frecklitis3 karma

If you don't mind me asking, what kinds of medications are you on? How has medication changed your PTSD? What kinds of side affects do you have?

How long did it take for you to get your service dog? And how much did it cost?

Throwaway_Corpsman16 karma

Currently I'm taking 125mg of sertraline (zoloft) a day, and 1 mg of klonopin as needed and once at night. The panic attacks, depression, and anxiety have definitely decreased since I've been able to stay on a regular medication regimen, which took me some time, since I was initially adverse to taking anything.

The service dog was free, and he has changed my life more than I can express in words. He came from an organization called Guardians of Rescue. They are freaking fantastic. Not only do they rescue local dogs and train them to be service dogs for combat veterans, they actually raise money to go overseas to retrieve and reunite soldiers and marines that have bonded with a stray animal overseas, and bring them back to the states.

I simply can't express how amazing this group is. My dog Dexter (cause he was a serial flip-flop killer as a puppy) is trained to deal with my panic attacks (he jumps on my chest and bites my nose), reminds me to take my medications, and senses when I am becoming too aggressive and warns me to back off. He's a tiny little Westie, and as much as I love him (he's so fucking spoiled) I wish I would have gotten something more intimidating looking. People constantly disregard his vest and play with him cause he's so damn cute. Some old lady literally picked him up the other day and demanded I go into the local starbucks and buy him a bottle of water....

Frecklitis4 karma

Thank you, sir, for answering so thoroughly!

I also have PTSD, and am seeing a psychiatrist for the first time in a long time next week. I had been in the process of switching psychs when I ran out of sertraline, and became too anxious/depressed to function, so I wasn't able to call to get a refill. I've been off for almost a year, now, and I've realized I need to take it for a while, at least so I can get my feet back under me. Mostly I just asked you how much it helps as reassurance, and to give me more reasons to keep the appointment.

As for people with your dog, they suck. Granted, westies are my weekness so I might have made some comment about how cute he is, but I wouldn't ever pet someone's service animal unless they gave me permission, and I wouldn't even ask to unless I knew the person. But to pick him up? I would have flipped my shit. I'm so sorry. Maybe a "Please don't pet" badge on his vest would help. You really shouldn't need one, but it might help a smidge.

Throwaway_Corpsman3 karma

lol I'll send you a picture. It says service dog three times! As far as staying on your meds, I know it's hard, man. It's something I still struggle with. But once you can stabilize yourself on a regimen that works, life changes. I promise. I've been at the bottom of the barrel. Suicidal, Isolated, just downright fucking miserable. Getting on the appropriate medication regimen for you, AND committing to therapy (don't be afraid to change therapists until you find one that fits. I did. Huge difference. I now travel over an hour just to see a specific provider because she's fucking awesome) life changes. Keep your head up and feel free to PM me with any kind of question, bitching, ranting, etc. Though I'm not sure what my internet connection is going to be like for the next couple of days. I will always have link at WWP, so I will always get back to you.

Throwaway_Corpsman8 karma

He's napping. He also knows 'work mode' where he only pays attention to me, and 'free mode' where he gets to be an obnoxious puppy that I love to death.

RuffDaimont5 karma

A weird (and dumb) question perhaps.

But as a medic (combat in this case) do you follow the hippocratic oath? If you came upon a wounded soldier/combatant who fights for the enemy, would you help him?

I mean no disrespect for your position in any way, I'm just curious.

Throwaway_Corpsman10 karma

Absolutely we do, depending on operational security. By the book, we're supposed to treat casualties based on a military triage system, which is different from the civilian counterpart. Basically, I'll put a bandaid on a trigger finger before I treat a sucking chest wound. It's all about keeping marines capable. (though the Hippocratic Oath is only applicable to physicians) I joined the military on Sept 12 ,2001. My dad was a combat pilot in Vietnam, living in NYC. 9/11 pissed me off to no end, and I felt a familial obligation to serve. It was both the best and worst decision of my life. However, I wanted to put people together vs taking them apart.

Sapper6664 karma

Marine here, Semper Fi Doc! One thing I have found is that my school has an SVA (Student Veterans Asc.) where vets come together and talk, we can even help provide contact info for qualified doctors who can help to. What state do you live in?

Throwaway_Corpsman12 karma

God, I miss my Marines. You all do the most ridiculous shit to injure yourselves on your off time, but I love you all more than anything in the world. As far as therapy, I've got it covered at the moment. Working with the VA and their PTSD clinic. Tomorrow I transition into supportive housing with on site clinicians. It's just such a weird step from being a promising medical student to homeless within the space of a year. What got me was my first vacation. Finally had time to think.

mikeyboy1134 karma

first off, thank you for your service and i hope that you get better from PTSD. im just wondering because you were in the USMC how hard is basic? iv always considered joining the marines (im in highschool right now)

Throwaway_Corpsman7 karma

The Marine Corps doesn't have their own medical staff. They are technically under the Department of the Navy. As a corpsman, I went through Navy boot camp and then Fleet Marine Service School (FMSS) to become an 8404 corpsman (medic for the marines), so I can't attest to how difficult marine boot camp is.

If you are interested in joining the armed forces, I suggest getting a study guide for the ASVAB. A high score means more opportunities for different jobs. I happened to get a 99 (highest score possible) but have always been fascinated by medicine, and there is no service that offers the same training to enlisted medics as the Navy. (Sorry Army guys, love ya!) However, since I've separated, I believe that all of the medical training has been centralized to one command, so this may not be the case any longer.

If I had to do it all over again (and not tell my dad) I'd join the airforce. Those fuckers had the best quality of life, the best looking girls, and easiest deployments...most of the time. Don't get me wrong, I have met some airforce guys that were assigned to security that had it rough, and I do not discount their service or sacrifice. But as a whole? Go Airforce. Get laughed at. Then laugh at everyone else when your eating well, on a 3 week deployment, and rolling in hot chicks. The Navy Issue Ass, is not a misnomer.

HighFlyer3604 karma

Hey there, I hope your PTSD gets all of the attention you need man. Sucks to hear about that. Did you ever witness any enhanced interrogations? How many inmates were brought in throughout your time at Guantanamo? Should Guantanamo be closed in your eyes?

Throwaway_Corpsman7 karma

I never witnessed any interrogations.

The number of inmates was kept classified to most of us

Should GTMO be closed? I dunno. Some of the people there were absolute animals. But looking back at it from their perspective, I probably would be to. Whether these people should be released back into society? I have a feeling they'd have their targets set for us in a heartbeat.

Some of the shit these guys did was completely fucked. Stealing butter from the chow hall to use to grease the floor. In the mean time they'd manage to get into the ceiling and remove a fluorescent lightbulb. One of them would hang themselves in order to get the quick reaction force into the cell, they'd slip on the greased floor, get stabbed with light bulbs, etc....

Not to mention the amount of shit and piss that was thrown at us on a daily basis. But then again, I try to think how I would be locked up in Afghanistan...

NumberZeroFourNine3 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman8 karma

I spent the better part of 2 years rotting in my apartment. I completely isolated myself from all of my friends and family. It is absolutely fucking hard to ask for help. I realized I was in a bad spot when my brother literally climbed through the fire escape to get into my apartment to tell me my dad had a heart attack (he's doing great, thankfully).

Words of wisdom? It's the most difficult thing you will ever do, and also the most important. Do not feel ashamed. The emotions you feel, though you may think them irrational, are totally normal. You have an enormous support structure that you don't even know about. Please contact the wounded warrior project. They will put you in contact with tons of other organizations. War is hard. Admitting you need help is damn near impossible. But you've been through the rough shit. Now it's time to fight for yourself. Feel free to PM me anytime. (though I'm unsure about my internet access in the coming days).

IHaveSoiledMyself5 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman5 karma

Absolutely mention it to your psychologist. Mine has be life changing. I don't use those words lightly, I seriously doubt I would still be alive if it wasn't for my service dog. He has provided me with independence I lacked before, and allowed me to experience the world once again.

If you have managed to maintain a relationship, I imagine (just guessing) you're probably in a better state of mind than I have been these last couple years, and I'm happy for that. However, a service dog can still be an enormous help.

I would recommend going through your provider to get your service dog if possible. There are a number of assholes on the internet that 'certify' service dogs. They provide no training, and basically you just buy a vest. This not only hurts you, as someone who could benefit from a trained service dog, but hurts the people that actually have legitimate service animals that we depend on. There have even been articles in the paper about fake service dogs and people who buy that shit online to circumvent local laws so they can bring their fucking chihuahua wherever the fuck they want. Honestly, fuck those people (I say fuck a a lot).

Check out Guardians of Rescue. They are based in New York, but I am sure they can give you some insight as to who to contact in regards to getting an actual service dog.

cipherthief3 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman5 karma

honestly, I'm still working on it. But what happens in the field, you do almost purely on muscle memory and then process what happened afterwards, which is why constant training is so important.

I have a huge problem coping with the past, and the things that I've done. I find comfort in the fact that I believe everything I did was for the men beside me, and have to leave the politics to well.... the politicians, whether or not I believe in what they do is right.

As far as moving on. I'm struggling. Forcing yourself into that mindset to survive is one thing. Living with the aftermath when you've had time to process is another. At the end of the day, I did what I had to do to survive, and bring as many of my marines home as I could. I'm continuing with therapy, and hope that when I become healthy again, I can finish medical school, and it will make me a better provider in the end.

cipherthief11 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman9 karma

Ok. I might be sobbing a little right now. You guys are amazing. You have saved my life. You have given me purpose again. If I had money, I'd be golding you to death. Thank you for everything you do. I am both humbled and grateful.

cipherthief4 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman4 karma

Frankly, I'm speechless. God bless you, and I hope to see you at an alumni event in the future.

Throwaway_Corpsman6 karma

I don't have much. But this was totally worth it. I love you guys to death.

MAINO2 karma

how much compensation do you get?

Throwaway_Corpsman10 karma

At the moment? Nothing. Thank you government shutdown. My claim has been pending for about a year and a half. I assume it will be 100%, at least that's what I'm hearing from the WWP, and in my area, that will pay the bills. But until it comes through, food stamps, and I hate myself for it.

dduct2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA!

As an American convert to Islam I'm very curious to hear your views on Islam before, during, and after deployment and serving in Guantanamo.

What was your opinion regarding the war during those times?

Throwaway_Corpsman15 karma

I think our government has ulterior motives that it doesn't make public. My opinion on the war... I don't know exactly. I'm torn between what I want to believe, and what I think is reality. Either way, I hope I served the men beside me well. To me that's all that matters at this point.

I think Islam is a beautiful religion (this is even coming from an atheist). However, most of the inmates in Cuba couldn't read. They'd never read the Quran for themselves, and were molded by religious extremists to believe that their religion demanded war. One of the things we did offer inmates were reading lessons, so they could read it for themselves. Not all of them participated.

fluntcap0 karma

Do you mind me asking what led you to converting to Islam?

dduct0 karma

I don't mind at all :-)

I was an anti-theist against any and all organized religions. It was merely out of curiosity that I decided to learn about Islam. I was also at a point in my life where self indulgence had gotten played out and I was interested in finding more meaning to life.

I found Islam fascinating because it was claimed by Muslims that the Qur'an is the unchanged literal word of God as it was revealed to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).

I figured it will be extremely easy to debunk since I was positive it was man made and therefore would have tons of errors and contradictions. Long story short: I decided to read it with an open but skeptical mind (if that's possible?) and was impressed right off the bat.

I studied the Qur'an and Islam in depth for 3 years, questioning anything I didn't understand or agree with until it made sense to me.

My life has completely changed but I'm still the same person just happier and living a much more fulfilling life. I never in a million years would have imagined becoming Muslim in my high school and college days. That's the beauty of life, you never know where you will end up.

fluntcap4 karma

Fair enough, I'm glad you're on the right path for yourself! I've read the Qur'an (well a literal translation, so not quite the real deal, can't read Arabic), it didn't personally do it for me but to each their own.

How did your friends and family react to the conversion?

dduct5 karma

Pretty well actually. I'm not the kind of person to pressure others to believe. My family saw a big change in that I quit alcohol and weed, became very family oriented, put a but emphasis on honesty, etc. They saw that I was much happier too so they figured it was a good change for me.

Some friends were not supportive at all and in fact would criticize me a lot for the changes they were seeing. Funny how they felt that me abstaining from certain behavior or activities was imposing my beliefs on them. I ended up losing a couple of friends and drifting apart from some others but I gained many many more friends than what I lost.

fluntcap3 karma

That's really good, I know of people who know of people who've converted to Islam over here in England and had certain family members pretty much disown them. With regards to your friends, I think a lot of people are threatened by members of their social group striving to better themselves because it reminds them of their own shortcomings, I packed in drinking in January this year, and I get people telling me I'm boring for not drinking and trying to pressure me to get a few pints down my neck. I think it's just how some people respond.

Anyway sorry for quizzing you on someone else's AMA, I was just really curious, thanks for answering my questions.

dduct5 karma

No problem my friend. I'm always happy to share my story and answer questions. Feel free to PM me if you have any more.

Sorry to OP for doing this in your AMA and thanks once again for answering my question.

Throwaway_Corpsman8 karma

No need for an apology. Any forum that stimulates intelligent discussion is fine by me. In my experience religion, of any kind, has separated people. It's nice to see a reasonable exchange of ideals between two people when so many others get bent out of shape about it. (Disclaimer, I'm sure this would have been more readable before that last beer).

OrganicCertified1 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman2 karma

I've heard about the study, and would love to get into a discussion, but I am heading to bed. Will be on tomorrow evening,

ChaosScore1 karma

What type of medical training did you receive?

Throwaway_Corpsman5 karma

I was already a paramedic when I enlisted, so I went through an accelerated pace program in corps school. However, the real training corpsman get is when you get to your first training command. I was assigned to a doctor for 3 years, and he basically made me do his job for him. Watching me every step of the way, and eventually I became more autonomous. An average day at 'regular' base in the continental US, consisted of me seeing all of the doctor's patients. Prescribing their medications, performing assessments, minor surgeries, acute care, and emergency treatment if needed ( I worked in an acute care clinic at my training command) and the doctor would look over my work at the end of the day and sign off on it. Of course, he was always available for questions or consult during the day if I needed. It took a long time to gain his trust, but I learned a shit ton.

Following my training command I attended loads of other classes. Basically, if I wasn't deployed I was in a classroom, either learning or teaching. I was qualified to teach pretty much every AHA course available. But my favorite course was TCCC, Tactical Combat Casualty Care.

I got to go to Pensacola and train with the special forces (Seals, PJ's, etc) for two weeks. They taught us surgical cricothyroidotomys, sternal interosseous infusion techniques, hypertonic solution delivery for homeostasis in patients with acute blood loss, needle thoracentisis, pericardiocentisis, and most importantly, how not to get fucking shot.

I learned a lot in medical school. But for the sheer amount of useful information shoved at me in such a short period of time? TCCC takes the cake.

dspman111 karma

What sorts of things did you see while you were deployed that contributed to your PTSD (if you don't mind me asking)?

Throwaway_Corpsman10 karma

This one's hard to answer, but I'll get to it once I finish off this growler.

slips281 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman2 karma

The WWP is amazing! Without them, I don't know where I'd be.

slips281 karma


Throwaway_Corpsman5 karma

I used all of my post 911 GI bill for my BS and some of Med School. I kept myself REALLY fucking busy when I got out. Worked 3 12.5 hour shifts at an ER and was doing 23 credits of undergrad a semester. I stayed so busy so I didn't have to think about anything. When I transitioned into medical school, it was great. Really hard work that kept my mind occupied. But then we had our first break between semesters, and I had nothing to do. This is when all the memories came back and I fucking lost it. Became agoraphobic for a good while, and ended up locking myself in my apartment while I burned through my savings.

Thank god for the wounded warrior project and my guardian ad litem for housing court (I was behind on my rent). They got me the help I needed. I'm in my last couple of nights in a hotel before I go to a veteran's housing unit. Hopefully just for a few days. I have some promising job opportunities. Had my first interview last Friday! And hope to have my own place again soon.

DW401 karma

Yeah, was your A-training useful to you at all???

After I graduated medic school I'm sure I would have got somebody killed if I had been given a casualty.

I was only lucky enough to do some follow-on training which chiseled me into the right shape. To this day, I've still got the muscle memory and skills; but not because of my A-training.

Throwaway_Corpsman1 karma

I did A-Training a little differently. I was a paramedic when I joined, so I went through an "accelerated pace" training, but I think they've phased this out. Basically, I had to take all the same tests and practicals at twice the normal speed, and had to self study based on written lectures. To be honest, it was mostly a rehash of EMT Basic training. It's a good foundation, but I think most of the real learning will come from your first command. Latch on to a MD or a PA. Annoy the shit out of them and suck up all the info you can.

Godspeed, Doc.

channelfourteen1 karma

Favorite weapon issued to you?

Throwaway_Corpsman20 karma


InYourUterus1 karma

How difficult was it for you to become a Navy Corpsman, also how does it differ from being a doctor in terms of on-site treatment? Hope you succeed in your dreams!

Throwaway_Corpsman6 karma

Becoming a Corpsman isn't too difficult. Becoming a good one is another story. Ask a marine and if he calls his corpsman "Doc" or "Petty Officer". Corps school is pretty easy. However, the training you receive on the job and at specific training courses is what makes a corpsman. Google TCCC.

Edit: What is cool, and I guess I didn't answer your question here, is how military medicine works. "See one, Do one, Teach one" was our motto. Basically, I was seeing patients autonomously (sort of, needed a sig) and performing minor surgeries on a day to day basis. This is something I could never do as a civilian.

thesecretbarn-1 karma

Thank you for your service. I wish that we had better systems in place to support you and other veterans in return for your sacrifice. Are there ways you would recommend people could get involved to help people in similar situations to yours? Are there organizations you would recommend for people to support with their time or donations?

Question 2: Were you at Guantánamo during the hunger strike that's been happening? Do you have any thoughts on how the prisoners are treated? I'm sure I speak for many when I say that I'm interested in anything you have to say about your observations at Guantánamo.

Throwaway_Corpsman8 karma

The Wounded Warrior Project is absolutely fantastic. I've dealt with heaps of other organizations. None of them follow through. WWP has stuck with me, no matter what. I do volunteer work for them now during my transition period. I've also given them power of attorney over my VA benefits claim (which has been in progress for over a year). These people will not leave you hanging under any circumstance.

I was there during the hunger strike, but I didn't have to participate in the force feedings.

As far as how they are treated? It's a mixed bag. They are prisoners, and in their mind, held illegally. However, they are provided better medical care than most people in the states. Example: One guy needed a cardiac cath and we didn't have the facility to do the surgery. He was a high value prisoner, so we couldn't risk sending him back to the states. Instead, we built this dude a fucking cardiac cath lab, at the cost of millions of dollars. We even flew in a team of specialists to perform the surgery. When it came time for it. He refused the procedure.