MARINES TOMETHBrandon C. Krontz
My grandfather and two uncles were Marines. I also had another grandfather and uncle in the Army. My father pushed for me to join the Marine Corps. I almost didn’t join. I almost gave it all away. I grew up in a home where everyone partied and partied hard. My mother was an alcoholic and drug addict. When I was younger, I remember sitting at the table on my mother’s lap while they played cards and drank all night. On my sixteenth birthday, my mother gave me a birthday card with a joint of marijuana in it. As a teenager I had the “cool” mom. Well, at least that is what I thought at the time. My friends were allowed to come over and as long as they were sixteen, they could smoke weed with my mom and I. No teenager should grow up like that. When I was seventeen I was arrested for possession of marijuana and received a year of probation. By this time, I wasn’t thinking of the Marines as an option anymore. I still wanted to get high while I was on probation and all of my friends were doing meth. So, at the age of seventeen, I tried meth for the first time and I fell in love. I spent the next two years doing meth. One day I was just tired of being a nobody and having nothing. I was nineteen and living between my mother’s house and my girlfriend’s house. All I was doing was getting high. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t want to get a regular job. I decided that I should look into the Marines. I asked my mom to borrow her car and she said no. I told her that if she let me borrow it I would go sign up for the Marines and bring back proof that I did. I left for Marine Corps boot camp on February 16, 2004. I was just a couple weeks clean at that time. I still wanted to party but I knew I could no longer do drugs. I turned to alcohol and I did not hold back. I got married right after boot camp and after all of my training was complete, I was stationed in North Carolina. I shined while I was in the Marine Corps. I deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2007. I didn’t know how to deal with the things I saw in combat so I began to drink even more when I got home. Even though my drinking was progressing it wasn’t affecting my career and I was promoted to Sergeant before my first four years were over. I had reenlisted in Iraq in 2007 for four more years. I was stationed in Virginia in 2008. That is where my drinking started to spiral out of control. My wife and I decided to split up in December of 2010. After we separated I would drink every chance that I could. In 2011 I got pulled over drinking and driving three times within two weeks. All three cops let me get away with drinking and driving because I was a Marine. One of those incidents was a hit and run causing bodily injury. I rear ended a car on the interstate and two people went to the hospital. All I received was a ticket for following too close.At this time, I was also prescribed Ambien for insomnia and I was mixing the pills with alcohol. I knew I was out of control so I told my therapist about the drinking and mixing it with my pills. She told me about an intensive outpatient program on the base and I volunteered for it. I only lasted five months sober. I wasn’t working a program and I thought I could now control my drinking. I got out of the Marine Corps on February 26, 2012 after eight years and two tours to Iraq. I had a stellar career and received many awards for things I had done. I didn’t realize that I had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and I had a very hard time adjusting to civilian life. Now that I was a civilian again I started to smoke weed again to self-medicate my PTSD. Within five months I was arrested for possession of marijuana. I still did not want to be sober. I wanted to get high even though I was on probation for a year again. So after nine years off meth, I got high on it again and it was off to the races.I was barely working. I would work at a factory for a couple months and then quit, blaming my PTSD. I did this for two years. I wasn’t paying my child support for the two kids I had with my ex-wife, but I was still picking them up for visitations. I was high almost every time I had my kids with me. Whether I was smoking weed, smoking spice, or doing meth, I was high on something. All that I really lived for was the thrill of getting high on meth. I was living out of my car and couch surfing, using all of the cash I had to get high and party.In July of 2013 I received a disability back pay check from the VA in the amount of $12,000. Instead of me going out and buying a house, getting an apartment, or paying some child support, I gave my ex-wife $1,000 and took $2,000 to a hotel and got a bunch of meth. I spent the entire check on hotels, meth, and women.I decided to get clean and go to rehab in the beginning of 2014. I refused to go to meetings, but I did get a sponsor. I relapsed after a couple months. I bought a mobile home for $100 that needed some work done. A lot of work done. It didn’t have any appliances and the heater didn’t work. Hell, I never even got the gas turned on for heat. It had four broken windows in it and I put boards over two of them. One of the boards was just so my neighbors couldn’t see me getting high in my living room.By this time, I was learning how to make meth and a female friend and I were cooking together. In September of 2014 I was getting high on meth and I was up for thirteen days straight. My female friend and I were making meth every other day while getting high on it every day. With me being on probation, the probation department came to do a compliance search on the 18th of September 2014. They found paraphernalia, meth, and an active meth lab in my home. That’s when I was arrested for manufacturing meth.I was accepted into the Drug Court program in my county and I only served thirty days in jail. I have been clean and sober since September 18, 2014. As I sit here writing this I am seventeen months sober. I moved into the Shepherd’s House the day I got out of jail which is a transitional living center for veterans with alcohol and drug problems. I lived there for fifteen months. I got a sponsor and I decided to work a complete recovery program for myself. I have never been so happy in my life.I put my higher power first, my sobriety second, my family third, and everything else comes after that. I went back to rehab, I got baptized, I am a college freshmen majoring in Criminal Justice, I am getting remarried soon, I have another baby due here soon, and I am a volunteer at the Shepherd’s House where I was able to find sobriety. The way I have stayed sober is by giving myself completely to this simple recovery program, working the twelve steps with my sponsor, giving back, and being honest, open, and willing. If there is anything that I can say, it’s that we do recover, one day at a time, if we really want it. Sobriety is for those who want it, not those who need it.