Here at iHateTheUSMC.com, we’ve fairly commonly had the parents, spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, etc. of a Recruit that is currently in Boot Camp come on the site asking something to the effect of: “My [Family Member/Significant Other] went to boot camp, but something happened and now he or she really just wants out. Is there anything he or she can do to get out of boot camp and the marine corps and come home?” My answer to the Recruits who want out of the marine corps is “Yes. You most likely still qualify for an Entry-Level Separation.” That being said, getting an Entry-Level Separation isn’t quite as easy or convenient as it would’ve been if you had decided to withdraw from the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) instead.
[NOTE: The advice given in this article is geared specifically to marine corps recruits. Please note that - while marines in MCT/SOI may still be in Entry Level Status - there is no provision that guarantees an Entry Level Separation for marines in MCT/SOI. That being said, the worst type of discharge that could be received for refusal to train would be an Other Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge. An OTH will have virtually no impact on your civilian life, except that an OTH may make it more difficult for you to get a job with the federal government.]
First of all, before we get too deep into discussion, it’s important to determine whether or not you actually qualify for an Entry-Level Separation. Paragraph 6002, Section 7, of the Marine Corps Separations Manual lays out the qualifications for “Entry-Level Status” in the Marine Corps as follows:
- For Active Duty, “a member qualifies for entry-level status during the first 180 days of continuous active military service”. This means that, from the day a recruit arrives at boot camp, he or she is in “Entry-Level Status” for the next 180 days.
- For Reservists, entry-level status is slightly more complicated, but in general it terminates after being called to Active Duty “for one continuous period of 180 days or more”.
If you’ve been in for longer than 180 days, unfortunately you no longer qualify for Entry-Level Separation. At this point the best advice I can give is to tell you to try to make it through your enlistment as best you can, come visit the Anonymous Discussion page at iHateTheUSMC.com whenever you need to vent, never be afraid to contact mental health if need be, and claim every benefit you deserve when you finally do get out.
Now then, if you have NOT yet been in for 180 days, then you still have hope for an Entry-Level Separation. Paragraph 6205 (Pages 187 – 188) of the Separations Manual states that ”A member may be separated while in an entry level status, if the member is unqualified for further service by reason of entry level performance and/or conduct, as evidenced by incapability, lack of reasonable effort, failure to adapt to the Marine Corps environment, or minor disciplinary infractions.” The order goes on to state that “all personnel administratively separated from recruit training will be processed under this reason except in those limited cases where processing under a more serious basis is appropriate and where discharge characterization under other than honorable conditions is warranted.” This effectively means that, if you’re separated from boot camp, you will receive an Entry-Level Separation, so long as you don’t do anything that causes significant injury to another person (i.e. start a fist-fight with another Recruit in an effort to get kicked out).
Note: A fuller list of situations that warrant an “Other Than Honorable” (OTH) Discharge can be found on Page 25 of the Separations Manual. However, it’s important to note that almost NONE of the listed situations could possibly apply to a Recruit.
Alright, now that we’ve gotten past all of the paperwork, it’s time to get to the real question: How does this affect me? How do I use this to get out of Boot Camp?
Quite contrary to what you and every recruit since the dawn of boot camp has been told, You Can Quit. It’s not quite as easy as quitting the DEP, and it requires some commitment, but if you’re serious about getting out of boot camp and the Marine Corps, a few days of hardship should be worth getting 4 years of your life back. The following is a very basic outline of how to go about quitting. Bear in mind that individual experiences may vary, and you may need to adapt your approach to meet your current situation.
Step 1: Get in the proper mindset. Odds are you’ve spent the past few weeks referring to yourself as “This Recruit”, doing anything and everything that you’re told out of fear of being screamed at, being taken for “Incentive Training” (I.T.) or (the ultimate Drill Instructor threat) being “dropped” or “recycled” to a different recruit company to repeat some aspect of training. The first thing you need to do is get out of that mindset.
- Remember that these Drill Instructors (D.I.s) are just people, just like you. They’re not anything special. Look them in the eye when you speak to them, refer to yourself in the first person, and don’t call them “sir/ma’am” or acknowledge their rank in any way. These things will take away your D.I.s sense of control over you.
- When your D.I.s start yelling and screaming, take a moment to realize just how stupid they look. Odds are, they look like a complete idiot and – in the correct mindset – you may find it very hard not to laugh at your D.I.s.
- Realize that you don’t need to be worried about I.T. If you don’t want to be taken for I.T. all you have to do is not go. If your D.I. says “get on the Quarterdeck!” All you have to do is smile and say is “No, I don’t really feel like it right now, but thank you for the offer.” What are they gonna do? Scream? Threaten you with I.T.? If you’re in the correct mindset, all of their threats are completely empty.
- Sure you might get dropped back in training (It’s actually very unlikely, but it’s still possible) but really, if you’re in a mindset where you’ve rendered all of the D.I.s threats to be completely harmless, what can they do? About the only thing they can really do is drop you into the Recruit Separation Platoon (RSP), which is where you want to be anyway.
Step 2: When you have made up your mind, and you’ve reached the mindset where the D.I.s have nothing to threaten you with, take a seat on your footlocker, put your feet up, and relax. Of course your D.I.s won’t take kindly to this, they’ll likely start out by screaming, just look them in the eye, and smile. If their screaming becomes annoying, you may choose to taunt them, saying something like “Come on! Is that all the louder you can scream? My Grandmother yells louder than that!” Taunts of this nature should be used in moderation, but when used skillfully, they will not only show the D.I.s that their screams are ineffective, but will also put you in a position of control as the D.I.s have to decide to either stop screaming or to give in to your taunts and scream louder on your command. Either way, you win.
From here, your D.I.s will likely try to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing. They’ll still be shouting, but they’ll ask “What are you doing?” or some similar question. Simply tell them “I quit. I don’t want to be a marine anymore, so I quit”. They’ll tell you “You can’t quit! You signed the contract… etc. etc.” respond “Too bad, I already quit.” Stand your ground, don’t let them intimidate you with their empty threats, and you will eventually win.
Note: It is possible that your D.I.s may try to punish other Recruits in an attempt to break you. They may start to I.T. a group of Recruits and tell them that the I.T. session will not end until you join in. This approach is particularly useful to D.I.s because it allows them to make you feel responsible for the suffering of other Recruits who didn’t do anything to deserve punishment. Your D.I.s will almost definitely allow the other Recruits to yell at you, pleading with you to join in the I.T. session so that it will stop. Continue to resist. Remind the Recruits that you’re not forcing them to do anything, and that if they want the session to stop, all they have to do is get up and leave. If you can successfully resist this tactic, it will work to your advantage in a couple of ways:
- It will reinforce to your D.I.s that you are determined to not continue with boot camp, and they cannot break you.
- The MCRD San Diego I.T. Card specifically states that “IT will never be assigned to a unit as a result of one recruit’s actions”, and the MCRD Parris Island I.T. Card states that “S.D.I.s may IT the whole platoon only as a response to the deficiencies of the platoon as a whole.” Thus, by assigning I.T. to a group as a result of your actions, your D.I.s are in violation of a direct order and you will be able to use this as ammunition against them when your D.I.s send you to talk to your Company or Series Commander.
Step 3: After a day or two of continuous resistance, your D.I.s will most likely send you to speak to either your Company or Series Commander. It’s important that you keep up your mindset, don’t stand at attention, don’t salute, don’t address the Commander as sir or ma’am. That being said, if your Commander speaks to you in a courteous, respectful manner, then speak to your Commander with similar courtesy. Your Commander will probably ask you why you’re behaving as you are, why you don’t want to be a marine anymore, and may even offer to make some changes if you will resume training. Decline his or her offers, and continue to resist. Within a few days after this meeting you will most likely be dropped to Recruit Separations Platoon (RSP).
Once you’ve made it to RSP you can afford to relax a little bit. At this point you know you’re being processed for discharge, so you can afford to act like a “good recruit” and say your “yes sirs” etc. just to make your life a little bit easier. You can expect to spend at least 2 weeks in RSP, and possibly quite a bit longer, but once you get out you will be out of the marine corps for good, so the few weeks of RSP should be well worth it.
If you wish to verify this answer for yourself, the relevant information regarding Entry-Level Separation can be found on pages 172, 187, and 188 of Marine Corps Order (MCO) P1900.16F.
Additional information on Entry-Level Separation from the marine corps can be found at the “GI Rights Hotline” Website.
Safety and Peace