Marine Allegedly Abused at Boot Camp Explains Why He Spoke Out

September 30, 2016 Updated: September 30, 2016

A man who was discharged from the Marine Corps claimed he was hazed at its Parris Island boot camp, saying he was punched, kicked, and was choked by his drill instructor. He said the abuse was so bad, he had to quit.

“We were taught the Marines is all about honor and honesty, and my superiors were constantly telling us all to lie about what was happening,” Thomas Weaver, a former Marine recruit, told the New York Times. “I had been really proud to join the Marines, but I was not proud of what we were doing.”

He said the abuse he witnessed and experienced at the Parris Island’s Third Recruit Training Battalion left him dismayed.

After reporting wrongdoing in a written statement to the Marine Corps, he was given a misconduct charge that left him with a bad record, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Marine Corps launched an investigation, showing a pattern of widespread abuse at the hands of drill instructors at Parris Island. At least 20 Marines now face possible criminal charges.

In one instance, a drill instructor threw a Muslim recruit in a hot clothes dryer, a report from the investigation said. The same recruit was also apparently hazed right before he jumped to his death from a barracks, the report said.

“We were all scared, terrified,” Weaver said, according to the New York Times. “I wrote a lot of letters home about what was going on, but I tore them all up because I was afraid the drill instructors would read them.”

Weaver said that after months of abuse, he suffered a nervous breakdown, was suicidal, and was hospitalized. He was then sent home with an—as military documents put it—”other-than-honorable” discharge.

“They say it’s a rite of passage to us,” Weaver told the Washington Post. “That that’s why they put us through hell. But in no way is it benefiting us, or anything. It’s pointless. I just felt like someone has to say something, and I know I’m probably going to get a lot of flak and whatnot, but it’s the right thing to do.”

In further elaborating, Weaver alleged that drill instructors beat one recruit out in the woods after a mistake on the rifle range, repeatedly slammed Weaver’s head into a door, and forced recruits to lie down so instructors could walk on them. A drill instructor put his hand up to his throat, saying he could be killed, Weaver told the Journal.