Twenty Marines face administrative punishment after being implicated in the suicide of Marine recruit Raheel Siddiqui, who leapt nearly 40 feet to his death last year at Parris Island, South Carolina.
According to Marine Corps Times, the incident has sparked a conversation on how hazing affects the morale and well-being of new recruits, as well as the entire Marine force.
Between January 2012 and June of 2015, the USMC investigated 377 alleged hazing incidents, with about 1/3 of those cases being ruled as substantiated.
In the Siddiqui case, investigators determined that the 20-year-old recruit had become a victim of a drill instructor who excessively hazed and assaulted a Muslim recruit the year prior.
“While under the influence of alcohol, [the drill instructor] ordered a Muslim recruit to get inside a commercial clothes dryer and then turned the dryer on several times while commenting on the recruit’s religion,” an official said, reporting on conditions of anonymity.
A new policy change would prohibit Marines under investigation from training recruits, as well as assigning drill instructors to specific billets based on their time at recruiting depots, thus ceasing “any practice that is based on differentiating between drill instructors of differing experience levels,” officials said.
“We mourn the loss of Recruit Siddiqui,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in a written statement, “and we will take every step necessary to prevent tragic events like this from happening again.”
Maj. Gen. James Lukeman of the Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command has taken extensive actions “to prevent the recurrence of issues identified in the investigations,”Maj. Christian Devine, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon said.
The new measures are set to include:
– An increased officer presence and supervision of training.
– The mandatory suspension of any Marine who’s being investigated for recruit abuse, hazing or maltreatment.
– Better visibility and reviews of investigations above the regimental level.
– The modification of the assignment processes for drill instructors and officers.
– The cessation of any practice that is based on differentiating between drill instructors of differing experience levels, to include enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for “hat-hazing” or hazing of any kind among drill instructors.
– A review and possible revisions to mental health processes and procedures, to include suicide prevention protocols.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D,MI) has been following the Siddiqui case for some time and has been pleased to see that Marines will be facing disciplinary action for the recruit’s death.
“Today’s announcement … is a first step in ensuring the family of Private Raheel Siddiqui receives the answers they deserve and that the Marine Corps is addressing the serious issues that led to this tragedy,” said Dingell.
Dingell plans to visit Parris Island over the weekend, having recently spoken with Marine General Robert Neller on the issue.
“Private Siddiqui was a son, brother and class valedictorian who believed this country represented freedom and opportunity. As a young Muslim man, he truly understood the value of freedom of religion, and all he wanted was to defend the ideals our nation holds dear,” said Dingell. “This is the very least the Siddiqui family -and the thousands of families across our country whose children serve in uniform- deserve.”
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