This Marine Hates Me

I actually thought I’d get thousands of these kinds of letters after the CNN interview in 2004.  I thought I get more after I started doing the play and even more after the movie started airing.  Actually, this is one of three negative responses I’ve gotten from Marines in seven years.  Hundreds have expressed their appreciation and support.  But today I got a message on Facebook from a Marine who isn’t so pleased with me.  (Semper Fi aired again today and I’m guessing he caught it.)  I post his letter and my honest response to him here so that it might reach someone who has silently misunderstood my intentions and hated me without saying so.

From him:

I am Hurt that you would publish something of this nature. I have been in the marine corps for 6 years i am a SGT stationed in camp pendleton. I have been to Iraq 3 times all combat deployments. for you to say you were a marine and wear my uniform and then speak out aginst what we work for stand what we bleed for that hurts me and the marine corps in general. I have been through alot on deployment i have seen alot. granted yes alot of us dont agree with invading iraq but after soon being there i seen a culture that was hurt. their gov’t executing people just beacuse they stole food to feed their family! ya we did and do have a reason to be there. i am proud of everything i have done there.

you were a reservist and for you to talk down what i stand for and what i Bleed for i am hurt.

I understand you did not feel it was right so get out and leave it but for you to give a image to the world that we terrorize the country’s we are helping. that is horrible. To me that is terrorism!!

I could care less if you are gay that means nothing to me. I know this will do nothing but please dont talk down what i stand for i have lost my close friends to the war i have seen them die. Semper Fi makes it seem like it was all for nothing!

My response:

God bless you Sergeant and thanks for your service to country and corps.  I wish you the very best in all things and send my honest and humble apology if you feel hurt by anything I have done.  I will continue to work to end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan for many reasons, the least of which is to avoid the further loss of life by our fellow Marines and other servicemembers. I will also continue my efforts to help the veterans of these wars and the innocent civilians so horribly effected.  Yes, I know that we’ve done some good things.  I was part of them.

If you think I talk down about or speak against what you as a Marine, should stand for, you completely miss the point.  I can’t take any responsibility for that.  Maybe with further consideration you’ll reconsider.  I love my country and my Marine Corps very deeply.  I’m sorry you doubt that.

Please take care of yourself and if you find yourself in trouble at any point for all that you’ve been through in your many deployments, know that there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. There are many fine avenues that provide it.  If you or anyone you know find yourself self-medicating with drugs or alcohol, I know that 12 step recovery is very helpful.  The VA can be hit or miss but there are many fine people working there, many of them veterans.  If you look hard enough, you’ll find it.  I’m not saying you need the help.  Just in case.  I care what happens to you.

I’m actually glad to get your email.  I’ve seen what happens when veterans keep their feelings inside.  Your speaking your piece.  That’s a good thing.  Keep on doing it!  Another reason I’m glad to hear from you is that I was afraid that I can now talk about it with other Marines who believe as I do and work to end the occupations and help OIF/OEF vets.  Yours is only the third negative response I’ve gotten in seven years and I’ve gotten hundreds of letters of support and gratitude from other veterans-our wars and previous ones.  I’m honestly glad you took the time.  Connecting with another veteran is a good thing.  Remember that.

The next thing I’ll say is the roughest.  Trust me, as a reservist, I have heard every joke, every criticism that there is for those who serve in the reserve.  Please don’t do that.  And because I only served one abbreviated tour, I’ve heard people who’ve served multiple deployments talk shit about us who didn’t.   As you can imagine, after having stood up for my corps and my country in the best way I know how and according to my spiritual beliefs and my conscience on such a large scale and thereby opening myself to criticism and violence. I really couldn’t give a fuck what anybody thinks of me.  But please, PLEASE never criticize anyone because of their reserve status or how long they were there.  It besmears the sacrifice of those reservists who will never come home and those who will who will never be the same.  I have a friend who was in country for four days and will never walk again. He has no function from the chest down and  he likely will die a young man from complications due to his injuries.  Please, Sergeant, I’ve been called every name in the book since I first stepped on the bus for first grade.  I can take it.  But please don’t degrade anyone’s service, no matter how you feel about them.  I ask for them, not for me.

For speaking out in the way that I believe God wants me to, I may one day take the assassin’s bullet.  But when that bullet enters my heart, it will go through the Eagle, Globe and Anchor that’s branded there and I will die loving my Marine Corps, even those who hate me for what I do.

So even though you hate me, I still love you as a brother

And though I’m sure it means nothing coming from me, I’ll still say…

Semper Fi,

Jeff Key


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