News: New Marine spends two years on Parris Island
Story by Cpl. MaryAnn Hill
PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. – A knee injury stopped her from leaving, and eight months of poor health followed by two major surgeries kept her on Parris Island for over two years.
Lance Cpl. Tallia Goodale has been waiting to continue her service since August 2012 when doctors found a stress fracture in her kneecap. While her knee healed, Goodale started getting really sick.
“I couldn’t eat; I had no energy, and I always had a stomachache,” said Goodale, a 21-year-old native of Osage, Iowa. “At one point, I lost 21 pounds.”
Goodale originally came to recruit training May 21, 2012, and was assigned to Platoon 4013, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, which graduated in August that year.
She didn’t know it yet, but eight months after stepping onto the yellow footprints, doctors would diagnose her with an extremely rare disease.
“I had a CT scan, an MRI, blood work and every other kind of test [the doctors] could think of,” said Goodale.
Her case file went to hospitals across the country, each one turning it down until a Naval hospital in Portsmouth, Va., decided to give it a try. She saw a general surgeon first, but they couldn’t find anything. Only after seeing a vascular surgeon – a specialist in veins and arteries – did they find out Goodale’s problem.
She was diagnosed with Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome, a very rarely diagnosed disease in which the celiac artery is rounded, causing a build-up or weak spot. The incidence rate of this condition is only 2 out of 100,000 patients, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sufferers usually experience abdominal pain, severe weight loss and trouble eating.
The first surgery to address the problem was in May 2013, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Then, doctors performed a 12.5-hour open-heart surgery to place a stint in her artery. An 11.5-inch scar down her abdomen serves as a reminder of the whole ordeal.
After the surgeries, the Marine Corps needed to formally evaluate Goodale’s condition and determine if she was still able to continue her service.
In October 2013, Goodale was put on a medical evaluation board, during which her case was reviewed by a team of doctors to determine if she was fit to remain on active duty. The board found her unfit three months later. At that point, she decided to plead her case in court to remain on active duty.
“[Goodale] fed off of helping the Marines below her; it kept her going,” said Sgt. Shawn Warren, her noncommissioned officer in charge from October 2013-January 2014. “She could have taken the board negatively, but she didn’t. She was always positive and thought about the bigger picture.”
Goodale said the closer she got to the end of the medical board, the more she wanted to fight to remain in the Corps. She said she wanted to stay in because of the people she has met during the process and the effect they have had on her life.
“This whole process has been an emotional roller coaster,” said Goodale. “I found myself losing a lot of motivation going through it, but then the people around you pick you back up and make sure you remember why you’re here and why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
She originally joined the Marine Corps to steer clear of the bad path she was headed down and to see the world.
“I saw her as a strong individual,” said Warren. “Not many people could go through what she has and still be the way she is. It showed me that she is a very special individual and very driven. She is going to be a great leader and do great things in the Marine Corps.”
After months of trials, Goodale fought the medical board’s decision, and her status was changed to “fit for duty.” Now, after more than two years on Parris Island, she will continue her career at Marine Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. She is slated to train as an engineer equipment mechanic after MCT.
Goodale said she is really nervous about continuing her training, but she knows she will be fine.