The Forbidden Fruit
A recent article by Gina Cavallaro in the Marine Corps Times, NC Marines Barred from Shops Selling Spice, has just come to my attention. Twenty-four businesses in the area surrounding Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River have been placed “off limits” for Marines, sailors, and civilian employees assigned to those bases. These businesses have been identified as sellers of “Spice”, a blend of herbs and chemicals that mimic the effects of marijuana. The Marines are prohibited from using Spice.
The most frustrating aspect for Marine Corps leadership is the simple fact that Spice can not identified in a urinalysis test as can other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, or prescription medications that might be abused. Leaders can’t catch Marines using Spice as easily as they can catch those using other drugs of choice. With urinalysis tests being ineffective, frustrated leaders resort to room searches hoping to identify the substance abusers.
Does the Marine Corps leadership actually think that banning shopping at certain stores will help with this problem? If anything, they are drawing attention to the substance and peaking everyone’s curiosity. People are always more interested in tasting the fruit once they know it is forbidden.
There is something very wrong with the Marine Corps being allowed to dictate who can shop where and what they can buy. These troops are serving, willing to give their lives so we can live in a free nation, and they are the very people who have no freedoms. It’s ironic when you really think about it.
And what about the business owners? Jacksonville, North Carolina would cease to exist if the Marine Corps pulled out and left the area. If the substance is legal, the business owner should not be penalized because someone up in the ranks can’t run his war machine effectively. It’s bad enough that the USMC uses punishment to mold their troops. Do they have the right to use punishment to mold and shape the rest of us? Small business owners have to feed their families too.
Don’t get me wrong. I am the first person to be concerned about people buying mind altering substances, especially when they are training for something as serious as going to war, but it seems to me that the USMC has a lot more to worry about than keeping their Marines from shopping in these places of business. If the Corps was doing their job, and instilling all of the honor, courage, integrity, and commitment they brag about, they would probably not have to worry about their Marines having any interest in purchasing Spice. If leadership was truly concerned about the welfare of their Marines, they would be approachable, understanding, and willing to ensure that the support and medical care needed was being provided to the thousands in their ranks who suffer with the stress of multiple combat deployments.
Marine Corps leadership needs to be concerned about understanding the reality of PTSD as it permeates the ranks. Unfortunately, the focus seems to be on catching the disobedient Marine in the act so that he can be punished and, in many cases, thrown out with an “Other Than Honorable” discharge. After serving his country, the Marine will leave the military with no health care benefits to assist him deal with his PTSD, no G.I. Bill to pay for the college education he has earned, and no promise of a good job as his OTH discharge will follow him all the days of his life. As well, the stigma stamp he received in the Corps will haunt him indefinitely.
It’s time to stop sweeping the real problems under the rug, scaring people into submission, and throwing prescription medications at our troops. Here’s a news flash! The prescription medication cocktails being prescribed to our troops by military doctors are far more dangerous than a little bit of Spice!
Perhaps the Marine Corps leadership should be looking at WHY the Marines want to purchase and use Spice along with other illegal drugs and an abundance of alcohol. Seems like a more valuable use of time to get to the root of the problem, deal with the real issues, and accept accountability for all of their shortcomings which have led to this nightmare.
Maybe if more of the decision makers stood directly on the front lines, they would have enough PTSD themselves to be able to recognize combat stress is a real problem that affects real people.