AWOL Marine: Is There a Form I Can Sign?

Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I just couldn't take the Marine Corps anymore. I hated boot camp, where they crammed things down my throat, trying to brainwash me and make me think differently.

I refused to believe the Marine Corps should consume my life, but still I completed boot camp and reported to my assignment at Camp Lejeune.

I hate everything about North Carolina! The people are so backward and slow. I just left my desk and walked out the door, and I haven't looked back since because I was miserable.

I'm 22 years old, and I know it was a mistake for me to join in the first place. I don't want to give my current location, but I left my duty assignment and I'm not going back.

My girlfriend said her uncle was in the Army a long time ago, and when he went AWOL he completed a form that tells why you don't want to be in the military anymore. And after the Defense Department processes the form, it will leave you alone. It would be like you were never in the military in the first place.

Do you have a way to check this for me? Is this true? I'm won't ever go back, but I need to breathe a sigh of relief and stop lying to my parents about why I'm not a Marine. They think I was released because of downsizing.

-- Jordan (not my real name)

Dear Jordan,

What happened so quickly after reporting to your first duty station that has you so fed up that you went UA (Unauthorized Leave)/AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave)?

You must know that going AWOL or UA is illegal and punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Furthermore, there is no form or document to submit to the DoD that will erase your enlistment. Eventually, you could be declared a deserter, which carries much harsher penalties.

In the post-9/11 period, I have met at least five service members who were AWOL ranging from one to three years. All of them had moved on with their lives, to include employment, pursuing their education, or taking up business opportunities.

They all said they were always looking over their shoulders in fear. Eventually, each one was stopped for a routine traffic violation, an expired yearly car registration, etc. They were arrested and eventually returned to their unit to face their punishment.

I can't demand that you return to Camp Lejeune. However, my advice would be for you to tell your parents the truth, talk to your spiritual adviser, an older close friend or family member, or a military mentor.

You should receive good counsel in talking to one these individuals. Thank you for writing to me. Keep in touch and let me know what you decide to do.

-- Ms. Vicki

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