As a Marine Vietnam vet, I had a somewhat different experience than Gary Neely. I got out of the Corps in 1968 to go into politics and, I thought, fix things. (Okay, I was pretty naive at 22.) At Mount Wachusetts Community College, I ran twice for student council and then for council president, and, though I didn’t have a group of high school friends there going in, I won every time. I used pictures of me in Vietnam on my posters. At the University of Massachusetts, I decided at the last minute to run for the student senate, on write-ins, against a kid who had lived in the dorm for a year. I won. I never hid that I was a vet.
I graduated from UMass in June, 1972, and in November of that year I defeated an incumbent Massachusetts Democrat state senator by 9 votes, in a 4-1 Democrat district last won by a Republican in 1938, the first of my five wins. (Including being nominated by both parties in 1976.) I always used pictures of myself in the Corps in my campaign flyers. In 1982, I was fed up with politics and retired undefeated to become an association executive.
For 31 years, I held increasingly responsible and better paying jobs. My resume always had a section on my service in the Corps, including the six years I spent in the active reserves while a senator (’77-’83). If it hurt me, I didn’t know it. And if they were biased against Marines, I didn’t want to work for them. Looking at the later results at some of the jobs I didn’t get, they could have used a little Marine discipline.
I had to retire October 1, 2013 due to pulmonary fibrosis, but I’m hoping the lung the VA gave me on December 23, 2013 will improve to the point were I can return to part time work as a consultant or substitute teacher. If so, my resume will still list my USMC service proudly. No compromise, no surrender.
Robert A. Hall
Once a SSGT, still a Marine