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Knee injury that would end in honourable discharge from military but not law enforcement
ingenius_inc wrote in little_details
Hi guys,

I have a character who needs an injury that would see him discharged from the US marines, but still allow him to go into law enforcement after he's recovered.

I've searched USMC discharge+"knee injury" , and "USMC medical discharge procedure" as well as "federal law enforcement medical discharge/medical qualification" and general searches for the types of knee injuries and while informative, haven't really answered my question. I've also checked the injury:broken bones and military tags.

It doesn't even have to be a knee injury. Just something that would see him unable to serve in the military, but still let him join law enforcement.

Any help or advice would be great.

Any cartilage injury is likely to make the knee to weak for infantry but leave you perfectly fit for law enforcement.

The standard for infantry is whether you can pass a physical fitness test AFAIK... and don't most law enforcement bodies include such a test either for entry or on a routine basis?

There was a stage where I could have passed the test, but the injury--which could only get worse, not be fixed-- would still show. As it is, with almost no cartilage in my left knee I can still squat press 80kg and run for a bus. But you couldn't *rely* on that knee not to give at an unexpected moment.

Not that it matters either way.... If he wants to claim his USMC experience when he applies, the codes om his DD-214 will show that he was medically discharged. (And the employers to whom 214's matter know the codes well.)

If he doesn't claim his USMC experience, he's going to have a huge and unexplainable hole in his resume/background.

It's just for NCIS fic, and he definitely needs the military experience. That's how he ends up with the job in the first place.

Shoot, if it's for an NCIS fic, you can just make up just about anything. They have... highly variable regard for actual military procedure.

So I'm pretty much good to go with the cartilage injury and not get booed for lack of realism?

The show isn't exactly realistic in the first place. :)

You actually don't need to be prior military to be NCIS. They are an all civilian force and their requirements are the same as any 1811 position, which means if you can join the FBI, you can join NCIS. (My husband is AFOSI and plays flag football with real NCIS agents on a regular basis.)

he needs to be in the military because six years ago I wrote that he was, and now, trying to write the sequel, I sort of have to follow through with that.


Well, as the previous poster said, NCIS isn't really a show for realism. :) In fact, it's one of those shows my husband can't stand to watch because they routinely mess up so much, not only about the military, but about law enforcement procedures as well. When it first came out, some of our friends wanted to play a drinking game where we drank each time the show got something wrong. We quickly had to abandon it. We were getting drunk way too quickly. :)

However, if you're trying to be more realistic than the show...have you thought about making your OC an analyst rather than an agent? Both AFOSI and NCIS use them, and while they don't go out into the field, the information they provide can be very important in an of itself.

Just a thought...

At this point i'm about to give up and just edit the original story and get rid of the reference to the knee. Make it so he left after 12/14 years of service. I should not be so caught up on this but it's driving me mad not being able to make this at least believable.

You know, a discharge isn't a simple binary experience -- there are parts, stages, offers, chances to appeals, and a lot of soul-searching that goes on. At some point, a doctor would tell him, "Look, you've got significant cartilage damage and it's only getting worse the more you run on it. I'm going to submit you for a medical examination board (an MEB or med board), and they're going to look at this MRI of your knee and recommend medical retirement. You'll get a small pension and full benefits, and more importantly, you're going to be able to play with your grandkids without the help of vicodin."

Then the fella will have a chance to consider it, discuss it with his family, discuss it with his mentors, and it would be very reasonable for him to take the discharge and start working for someone like FBI or NCIS, someone who will expect him to be fit -- he can still run a 6 minute mile! -- but won't expect him to run 25 miles of PT with his squad every week. He can start doing his own independent gym time, and certainly 10 years of being a hard-as-nails Marine will have left him with the fitness addiction, but he won't do the chronic impact damage that daily running will leave on him.

The decision would be a lot easier for him if he were such a model Marine and working in the NCIS community that he knew he'd be welcomed there once he became a civilian again. That sort of transition happens every day. Extremely believable.

If you want it believable, a simple non specified cartilage injury will almost certainly do. It's not like you're writing for an audience of doctors... or the show has a high standard of realism to start with.

The problem is he'll have to pass the physical fitness test for the law enforcement agency, which depending on the department might be quite rigorous.

If it was an injury that could be recovered from most likely he would have stayed in the USMC and waited it out.

It might be easier (depending on your plot point) if he had previously been in law enforcement and taken a leave of absence to sign up for the USMC.

The problem is that the USMC needs it to be pretty serious before discharge. My friend had a torn meniscus, was sent home long enough to get it fixed and he had to go back. Only after it restore was he released.
His state allowed for him to test up to being a detective but he couldn't be SWAT or any other special forces. </p>

In NYS you can't go directly from MP to cop, but other states you can, especially the Marines.

Just curious, when was your friends mensicus torn? How serious an injury needs to be for discharge has varied over time.

Hell, a friend of mine had fucking lupus and didn't get discharged. My mom got diagnosed with a knee issue when she was in the military, too, and didn't get kicked out. (Granted, my mom was a nurse and it wasn't wartime.)

What OP is likely thinking of is that military is pretty picky about bringing people in who already have known health issues. Once you're in? It can take a lot for them to actually discharge you.

That depends on when (when enlistment is up, the standards for discharge go down*), the service (the USN has different standards than the USMC), his job (garrison/shore or deployed), his specialty... There's a lot of variables.

*Or in my case, a minor shoulder injury and the services being cut *way* back (early 90's) and my specific job field shrinking by nearly 75%... I was put out for failing the PRT, didn't even get a medical. (Though I should have.)

I had a friend who was in the Army and allergic to wool. They issued him a cotton uniform, then sent him to a cold location. He got pneumonia, which damaged his lungs. He was discharged honorably.

Considering there are now active duty soldiers, sailors, and marines with amputated legs, I'm not sure what you're looking for is realistic.

Depending on when you're setting it...

My ex had blown out his knee in high school running track and somehow med waivered into the ARMY, where a couple weeks into basic he blew it out again. Came home for a while, healed enough to go back, then got discharged. A few years later, he decided he wanted to go NAVY was able to sweet-talk his way past the med portion again (despite the prior medical discharge) and ended up screwing up the knee again and getting discharged *again*.

So it is possible to get out with a knee injury...even now (though this was now about 10 years ago...)

Not sure if this would work, but if the guy had a problem with his knee and was close to the time for re-enlistment, might they just not re--enlist him? Especially if they thought the problem might reoccur or get worse?

Or... perhaps after he gets kicked out, a new/experimental medical procedure comes along that will fix whatever was wrong with him.

Actually that's a good point: the doc won't give me a replacement knee partially because I'm, only 45 and partially because artificial cartilage is just around the corner.

Not knee injuries, but I know of a couple of scenarios:

One of my brother's buddies joined the military right out of high school. He was almost done with training when there was a zip line incident where the gloves/equipment were faulty (I'm not sure of the details) and his hands were cut up badly. He got an honorable discharge, and his hands are fine now.

Another of his buddies joined the Marines. During training, one of his DIs got annoyed at him (not difficult) and told him to go bang his head off the wall. He did. He managed to concuss himself and he needed stitches. The Marines decided they didn't actually want him after that.