Finding Purpose Through a New Kind of Service

Blog Feature Wwrcc

by Joel Bollig, Quality Control, Quality Assurance

Master Sgt. Paul Woyshner was famously quoted saying, “Once a Marine, always a Marine!"  This quote seems to hold true, but I believe it needs to have a follow-on statement, a caveat if you will, that captures the reality of life. “You may always be a Marine in your heart, mannerisms and daily routines, but you’re a veteran now.” Being a veteran in 2018 comes with more benefits and access to programs than ever before. We are recognized at almost every public event, stores and restaurants offer discounts, and we are continuously being thanked for our service. Yet, there seems to be a void — a void that many veterans struggle to fill as they endure life after service, myself included. If you have never worn a service uniform from this great country, this void I speak of may be hard to comprehend. It may even seem like some type of fictional emotion manufactured in a Hollywood script but, I promise, the void you feel once you take off the uniform for the last time is real.

As I write this, I am just short of being out of the Marine Corps for three full years and, to be honest, there is not a day that passes that I do not think about it. The good times and the bad times, from pinning on Gunnery Sergeant, to my deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, from the brothers I have lost, friends I have lost touch with, to the countless families I had the honor of caring for while their son or daughter lay critically wounded as an in-patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Although, I was in the Marine Corps for more than 13 years, it all seemed to be just a flash in the pan — over before I knew it. I believe this is one of the main contributing factors as to why the void is so strong and powerful. Serving in the military is not just a job, not just something you do: Defending our country is the only priority, all other aspects of your life must come secondary, but when it’s over, it’s over. 

Or wait, is it?

It took just over a year of being out of the Marine Corps for me to discover a way to refill that all-encompassing void: Continue serving Marines. That’s what led me to work at the Sergeant Merlin German Wounded Warrior Call Center, which serves as the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s primary 24/7 outreach hub. The call center was established in 2007 and dedicated to Sgt Merlin German in December 2008.

The mission of the call center is to receive incoming and make outgoing calls to wounded, ill and injured Marine veterans, attached Navy Corpsmen and their families. We are dedicated to being their resource hub by providing all available resources and programs, and to ensure they have access to Veterans Affairs medical care. My job here is to run the quality assurance and quality control program for the call center. I see it as my duty to ensure our staff is providing the most compassionate and accurate care possible to the Marines while also providing leadership in key areas where we can improve as a whole.

Although I am not making outreach calls to Marines myself, being able to mentor and pass along my knowledge and experience from the Marine Corps to the customer care representatives, who conduct the outreach calls, gives me peace — and that peace is a great feeling. I know not all veterans will feel exactly as I do, but if you’re feeling a void, get yourself involved in serving fellow veterans or uniform members.