Lance Cpl. Tallia M. Goodale was recognized as the Golf Co. honor graduate at the School of Infantry-East aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 15. Goodale will report to Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., to attend her military occupational specialty school to be trained as a heavy equipment mechanic. Goodale says she never anticipated graduating Marine Combat Training due to a being diagnosed with a condition that initially classified her as unfit for active duty during recruit training. (Cpl. Cameron O. Payne/Marines)
- Filed Under
Lance Cpl. Tallia Goodale got the typical 10 days of leave all new Marines get after boot camp,but when it was over, she had to go back to the training depot.
It was the start of a two-year battle against illness and medical boards that threatened to cut short her time in the Marine Corps.
Goodale, 21, arrived at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, in June 2012. Worried she’d fallen in with the wrong crowd back home, she said she joined the Corps to find a new path.
But near the end of boot camp, she injured her knee. She was able to graduate with the rest of her company, but was ordered back to the island for rehab before she could move onto Marine Combat Training.
“It was demotivating,” she said “It was hard to see that everyone else was going to training, and I had to stay on Parris Island.”
It’s rare for Marines to have to return to Parris Island after boot camp. In 2014, only about 26 Marines had to do so, said 1st Lt. Jean Durham, a spokeswoman for Parris Island.
When Goodale returned though, things didn’t move in the right direction. As her knee healed, she started losing weight, felt sluggish and couldn’t keep food down. The athlete who played four sports before shipping off to boot camp said she knew something wasn’t right.
“I couldn’t exercise without getting sick to my stomach,” she said. “Some mornings I couldn’t get out of bed. I just wasn’t myself.”
After several doctors struggled to find a diagnosis, Goodale said it was recommended that she go before a medical board — the service wanted her out. But she refused until someone could figure out what was wrong with her, she said.
Months into her struggle, a Navy doctor in Virginia diagnosed her with a rare disease called Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome, which was causing her abdominal pain and weight loss. She needed a stent in her celiac artery, so in June 2013 — about 10 months after her boot camp graduation — she underwent surgery.
In October, Goodale went before a medical board and was found unfit to serve on active duty. She started preparing to return to the life she chose to leave behind.
“I was in what I would consider my black hole,” she said. “But a couple of drill instructors I created a really good mentoring relationship with had a lot of long talks with me. That convinced me that this was what I wanted to do. ... I knew if I wanted this, I’d have to fight for it.”
She pleaded her case and won. Goodale began training harder, going out on hikes and leading physical training to prepare herself for Marine Combat Training, and left Parris Island in June.
More than 700 days after standing on the yellow footprints, Goodale completed MCT at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on July 15. She was recognized during the ceremony as an honor graduate.
Outranking everyone in her platoon, Goodale said she was in charge of the privates and privates first class when their combat instructors weren’t around. It was motivating, she said, but nothing new since she grew used to responsibility as she developed into a leader in a rather unlikely place for a new Marine — a recruit depot.
Next, Goodale is headed to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for training in her military occupational specialty — heavy equipment mechanic. She’s up for re-enlistment in about eight months, and said she’ll do everything she can to remain in the Corps.