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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — When a local Marine Corps veteran returned from overseas service, he was met by a new set of challenges.

A shining product of the foster system, alumni of G.A.R High School and a young man on a mission. Meet Elijah John Scretching.

“I want to prove something prove that do something better,” Scretching said.

He would challenge himself to step on the yellow footprints in Parris Island, South Carolina to become one of the few, the proud.

“I was tired of people telling me I was gonna end up in jail or not being able to do anything just because of the circumstances I was brought up,” Scretching said.

Seemingly a lifetime ago, the year was 2019. Corporal Scretching returned to Wilkes-Barre from active duty as a ammunition technician, not knowing exactly what the world had in store for him.

“Coming back from Okinawa, Japan come back to United States, I was gone for a while, was over there a couple years so, coming back here to readjust to how American life is,” Scretching said.

That life would take several unexpected turns, starting with a global pandemic, now a world away from his wife, young child and family forged in the Corps.

“I’m hoping to get back over there soon and at least see her before her first birthday,” Scretching said.

Just months after starting to adjust, gaining employment and settling in to the new normal? Another call to action

“Did I just see that? I mean, he just died. He’s begging for his life. Gone off for his mom and just died for my own no, this has got a, you know what I mean like, this has got to change,” Scretching said.

As a young Black man he knew he had to be part of the solution. He shared with Eyewitness News his own experiences of being profiled, stopped by police after his service.

None of those cases lead to further incidents and his faith in good policing remains. Scretching says he is one of the lucky ones. It furthered fueled his desire to step against injustice

“I know some great officers who really do a great job, a really good job out here especially Wilkes-Barre, as we learn in the military when we see somebody doing something wrong, don’t matter if they are your uncle, brother, cousin, if it’s the other officers doing something wrong correct them about it. If you let them do something bad, you are the bad guy too,” Scretching said.

Millions across the nation agreeing and scores of people making their way regularly to places like Public Square in solidarity with Scretching and a growing message.

“It felt great because that means you are not the only person thinking about it you know. That means like you’re not the only person, thinking about it, you know, like, if one or two or more people are thinking the same thing you are you know what I mean probably more than two so getting that response from people is great,” Scretching said.

Despite the challenges of 2020 he remains optimistic.

“Seems like a lot of good things are happening in spite of like all the bad stuff going on. It gives me hope, you know?” Scretching said.

Nothing has been able grind him down. He remains a proud family man. He also recently was promoted at work and will be pursuing a degree in psychology from Wilkes University.

Battling the odds, Scretching leaves us with earned wisdom.

“Take every bit of good for this year, take that with you and continue on with that through the rest of the years and realizing the bad stuff. Tuck it away but remember it. Have faith in yourself and have faith in the people around you. Go forward and keep striving to be better,” Scretching said.

And if the world weren’t enough for Scretching, he’s hoping to get that degree at Wilkes and apply for the Secret Service. That young man is going places.

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