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    Every scar has a story

    Every scar has a story

    Photo By Sgt. Karis Mattingly | U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua Martinez, a network administrator with Communications...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Karis Mattingly 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    AT SEA –

    Every Scar Has a Story:
    Aboard USS America (LHA 6), a long line of U.S. Marines and Sailors fill the inner halls of the ship. Waiting patiently, a Marine looks at Cpl. Joshua Martinez, as they stand in line and asks, “hey, what’s that scar from?” Martinez responds, “oh, I got in a fight with a bear” and chuckles, letting the Marine know that it was merely a joke. He continues on, glancing at the ground, following up with “I was sick as a kid; it’s a surgical scar.”

    The Story First Hand:
    “Mom! Dad! My head hurts,” said the three-year-old boy. “Please, it’s hurting. It won’t stop.”

    “Ok honey let’s go find some help,” said his parents.

    The doctors thought it was just a fever or another virus passing through. Wait, but what common cold causes blood to drip down the nose and ears? Her motherly instincts kicked in and there was no stopping the momma bear. The family was residing in the Canary Islands of Spain, but they could not find the help they knew they needed - the help their son needed.

    The family was turned away time and time again by doctors. Eventually they moved to France hoping to find some answers. Finally, a medical provider ordered some scans of the boy’s head.

    They had a moments bliss until… “Your son has brain cancer,” said the doctor.

    The tumor was in the middle of the boy’s brain, and it could not be cut out because the chance of irreputable damage was too high. While this may have seemed like the most difficult moment in the family’s lives, they still had a long journey ahead.

    Six Years Old:
    After the discovery in France, no one in the area was willing or able to operate because it was too dangerous. After a series of heavyhearted phone calls to friends, the Martinez family made their way to America in hopes of finding a doctor willing to take a chance.

    “We started to get desperate,” said Martinez. “It started getting to a point where I couldn’t see anymore. My eyesight was like a light switch. Sometimes it was on and sometimes it was off. My dad had friends in America, and he asked them for help. We went over there, and I got admitted into a hospital where I started the chemo treatment.”

    For a year and a half, he was given chemotherapy as an attempt for a less intrusive route to treat and kill the tumor. The cancer, however, did not respond to the treatment like they had hoped; they were now out of options. Surgery was the only choice.

    He finally had the surgery to reduce the cancer intruding on his brain. The doctors drilled a hole through the tumor and placed a shunt for it to slowly drain. To this day, it is still draining.

    It was almost like waking up from a dream. He felt himself laying down in the gurney as he was wheeled around the hospital. His eyes fluttered slowly trying to wake-up from what felt like a deep sleep. As the bright light pierces into his eyes, he looked up dazed at the nurses as they discussed amongst themselves. As he slowly became lucid from the anesthesia, he engaged in minimal conversation – much of which was him trying to convince the nurses he was Spiderman. It was later when he discovered the interaction occurred days after the surgery. He was in a comatose sleep to allow for some healing of the scar where they had cut open for the brain surgery.

    Journey as a Marine:
    Martinez has been in the Marine Corps for four years now. However, as he was trying to enlist, it began to feel like an impossible task. To join, he was required to see a psychologist and psychiatrist for a year to ensure he was mentally sound for military service. Additionally, he had to track down the neurosurgeon that operated on him, 10 years prior, to clear him as fit for duty.

    Still prevalent today as a United States Marine, his social and professional life is affected by aspergers syndrome and autism which were diagnosed after the brain surgery. Organization, structure and routine are three big traits of the diagnosis, so it’s important for him to maintain those disciplines.

    “I have always been about rules and by the books,” said Martinez a network administer with Communications S6, Combat Logistics Battalion 31. “The Marine Corps gives rules, so I am all for it, but then there is a social, behavior and climate aspect. Like, I don’t understand sarcasm, it goes right over my head. I can be sarcastic, but I never know when someone is trying to be sarcastic with me.”

    To overcome the obstacles associated with his diagnoses, Martinez has come up with his own way when dissecting people’s actions and words. He explains that whenever somebody tells him to do something, he will reword what they say in his head to try understanding its true meaning if its initial interpretation is not at face value.

    An example Martinez provides, was if someone were to tell him to make sure a printer works, he would initially turn it on and see that, yes it works. However, there are other actions that should be done like check to see if there is paper, or enough ink or if the laptop is connected to it. All in all, it’s a constant process he does to not take things so literal, but instead to process what someone means. He then finds additional actions associated with the request and executes it accordingly.

    “It has definitely gotten better especially throughout my time in the Marine Corps,” he said. “I’ve learned how to conceal that side of me. It still happens in my head, just people don’t see it anymore. Or at least not as often.”

    In School and Personal Life:
    “I feel like a lot of my life, doesn’t actually feel like it was my life, and it’s just because I had this thing in my head that made it really hard to interpret my world,” said Martinez. “After my surgery, I felt like I was asleep for a really long time. I didn’t really feel like I was me and in control until maybe my junior year in high school.”

    Martinez explains that the post-surgery caused a lot of side effects. His diagnoses of autism and aspergers syndrome, caused a learning curve where he had to relearn behavior, social ques and interactions. In school, he always had a hard time. Admittedly when trying to make friends it was especially difficult.

    “I was just a weirdo most of the time,” he said. “It was hard to interact with people, but I made do. I don’t regret any of it. I wear my scar with pride now.”

    Throughout his education, Martinez had to always fight for what he knew he was capable of. In fact, a middle school actually denied his entry because they thought it would be too challenging for him. Even his teachers did not believe that Martinez had it in him to succeed at what he put his mind to. He continues that the most frustrating part was when people would try to discredit his abilities.

    “I think the biggest motivator of my life, even after the surgery, was people kept saying I couldn’t do something,” he said. “Many people were saying ‘nope you’re not going to be able to do that, don’t even try, it’s not worth your time,’ and that infuriated me. I always thought ‘I’ll tell myself that, not you.’”

    Martinez finished high school in the top 10 percent of his graduating class. Additionally, he left high school only a couple credits away from an associate degree because of a high-level program he was enrolled in that allowed students to take college courses.

    His Marine Corps Career:
    “There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I love the Marine Corps,” he said. “I respect and appreciate what the U.S. military does - more specifically the Marine Corps; from the personal account stories I have heard to ones I read about, I’m just glad I get to be a part of that impact. I like the good that we can do.”

    Even with a life’s journey full of obstacles, Martinez continues to disprove everyone in his past who did not believe in his ability. While in the Marine Corps, Martinez has been meritoriously promoted to lance corporal in recruit training because his drill instructor said he saw something in him. During his military occupational specialty schoolhouse, he was given the Warrior Award for hosting a weekly study session that drastically improved students’ grades.

    As a Marine in the Fleet Marine Force, he has won Marine of the Quarter three times and has been the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter. To speak for some of his success within his MOS, Martinez was entrusted as the chief for networking while in the Philippines, Korea and Thailand and has received 12 Certificate of Commendations. Additionally, he has instructed numerous classes to his peers regarding his job field and continuously seeks out responsibilities and certifications any chance he gets.

    On July 31, 2021 Martinez reenlisted in the Marine Corps for an additional six years. As of now, he is unsure if he will make a career out of the Corps but plans to take it one enlistment at a time. Within the duration of his continued service, with unyielding determination, he strives to leave behind the very impact that he believes the military has on people around the world.

    “After I started thinking about it and conceptualized the U.S. military, I started thinking about my life,” said Martinez. “My family, we moved to America to save my life, so I thought joining the Marine Corps would be a nice way to give back to. I’ve always looked up to men better than myself. I feel like I’m doing something good now.”

    Martinez is currently with Communications S6, CLB 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6). The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.



    Date Taken: 12.07.2021
    Date Posted: 12.15.2021 19:28
    Story ID: 410664
    Location: OKINAWA, JP

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    Downloads: 2