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Off duty thrills killing Marines

By Pfc. Natasha Green | | September 25, 2003

Yuma Marines returning from deployments to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom could be considered safe and out of the danger zone.

But according to some, this may be untrue.

This is because many Marines returning from combat deployments are endangering themselves with risky behavior.

Some mental health experts say Marines may be trying to get a "danger induced adrenaline rush," according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, "Marines literally dying for a thrill." 

"Those experts say a serviceman's body becomes accustomed to the constant stream of adrenaline that keeps him going during combat. When he gets home, he is more likely to seek activities that start the pump again," according to the article.

Some Marines returning from deployments are buying cars and motorcycles and behaving dangerously in them, stated the article. For example, a Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine was killed during a street race in Los Angeles, and the driver of the car, another Marine, was injured.

"Marines returning from deployments are usually ready to go make up for lost time, so to speak," said Gunnery Sgt. Martin A. Nelson, station safety noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

When deployed Marines return, many have family, co-workers and friends holding homecoming parties and social gatherings for them where alcohol is available. Alcohol consumption partnered with risky behavior can lead to injuries and even fatalities.

In one instance, a Marine from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., was killed in an accident. The Marine was speeding home after a night of drinking alcohol at a bar when his vehicle flew off the road and hit a tree. He had been home on leave after returning from Iraq, according to the article.

Marines returning from deployments should seek help if they are feeling any symptoms of combat induced stress.

"I understand that talking with others who shared the same experience can help, as does getting the returning Marine back into the normal, healthy routine of their life back here in the rear," said Nelson.

Leaders must pay attention to their Marines, and be aware of their safety, because of those dangers, he said.

"Set the example of safety Ñ don't be the leader of the unsafe set that is out there where everyone can see, driving unsafe or riding your motorcycle without your proper gear. The Marines will follow your example," said Nelson.

Those returning from deployments must also set their own safety standards. Disregarding safety can be just as fatal as combat.

Nelson urges post-deployment Marines to remember that "You have been a lot of places and you have seen a lot of things. Remember how important you are to each other, your family and to the nation.

Be aware of your limitations and the risks that are to be encountered now that you are back. You need to remember that bad things can happen at any time and they may happen to you. Don't try to make them happen.?

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