There is no reason to exaggerate how a Marine changes. He does not really leave to boot camp one person only to return this totally unrecognizable person. That may be how his outer surface appears, but I guarantee you that deep inside of him, his or her personality really hasn't changed that much. A 90 day boot camp simply is not enough time to dramatically change someone and most of the change that you will see is temporary and superficial. Let us look at who we are before we enlist.
Some of us are lazy, while some of us love to work out often. We might be the serious type or we might enjoy being the class clown. Some of us might be more sensitive than other while some of us might be rough around the edges. Lovers, party animals, attention whores, drama queens, quiet types, shy types, geeks, we are all different and all of these different personalities/traits do not go away just because you become a Marine. You simply adapt your characteristics to your new Marine Corps lifestyle.
Immediately following the graduation of boot camp is when you will notice the most change. Regardless of who you were before entering boot camp, once you graduate you will have more discipline, pride, respect, honor, integrity, and courage to name a few. As a newly minted Marine you will appreciate most things a whole lot more. As time passes, much of this change tends to go away since you are no longer in a boot camp like environment. It is important to point out that how a person changes in the long run varies from Marine to Marine and you should not expect to change into a totally different person.
For many who enlist, this will be the first time that you are away from home. It may also be the first time you associate with different characters from all walks of life. From alcohol, to woman, to friendships, to just plain ole no adult supervision, this will make some Marines seem as if they were injected with some magical drug. No adult supervision and a steady paycheck plus a new environment usually results in the exploration of all that life has to offer. This type of behavior is very normal and should not be seen as the Marine changing for better or worse.
Peer pressure also plays a huge role in how a Marine may change. For example, people who are shy and quiet and were picked on before the Marine Corps, they now have some confidence and self-respect. This does not mean they are changed and can now issue ass beatings like a world class fighter. It simply means that while in the Marine Corps this person will often live a lie for the most part. While hanging out with friends and having a good time, he may seem like he has learned to fit in. His shyness seems all but forgotten, but the reality is that he has not changed in that aspect. Once this person leaves the service what happens? They go back to their true self because they are no longer in the environment they were once in. There is no more pressure to fit in, so the person resorts to his old ways. The longer a person serves the more permanent change you will see in him. And those who pick the USMC reserves really do not change much seeing as they are only part time Marines. You have to understand that there is a lot of peer pressure when serving in the Corps, so you very often have to be someone else just to fit in and you don’t become an outcast. In my time in the Corps I noticed a lot of Marines who would act certain ways just to fit in. I even did it from time to time.
If you are a thief, a drunk, a womanizer, a comedian, a shy person, gay, soft spoken, religious, adventurous, sensitive or a respectful person before you enlisted, then chances are very very high that you will be the same person during and after your military service. Boot camp and serving in your unit does not magically transform you into a robot who is blood thirsty and ready to kill and it doesn't make you into that person you wish to be.
Reality is that a lot of teens who are thrill seekers and adventurous enlist into the Marine Corps. A lot of party animal type people enlist and a lot of troubled teens also enlist. This is why you see a lot of "living it up” in the Marines. This is why you see many risks taken by some Marines. This is why many Marines are loud mouths and think they can take on the world. This is why many Marines feel they are alive for the first time in their lives. In the end you are the one who decides how you will act as a Marine. You can try your best to be yourself and to enjoy yourself, or you can blame the Corps for this and that therefore choosing to be reckless and foolish in your off time activities.
So do not expect to change who you truly are, but do expect a change in how you act and view things. Remember; when you enlist you begin with no or very little discipline. When you graduate you will have a vast amount of discipline. It is discipline which dictates our actions, so expect some change.
- Civilians, especially anti-military folks love to exaggerate about how a Marine changes. It is important you understand that as humans, we all change, especially as teenagers. Don't let the fear of changing cause you to not enlist.
- Keep in mind some of you will have much more room for improvement while others already naturally conduct themselves like Marines.
- You don't become suicidal just because you serve in the Marine Corps. Many who commit suicide have severe issues which they already had and when you add in the USMC lifestyle, this causes them to go over the edge. It is unfair to blame the Corps for every suicide the same way it is unfair to blame a university when a student takes his life. Reality is that people kill themselves often in life and it isn't always their current environment that dictates these horrific actions.
- I noticed that many who hated the USMC and who did not enjoy the USMC had attitude issues and or anger issues. The USMC didn't give them these issues, they brought them with them in hopes the USMC would change them and when they didn't change, they took it out on the USMC. Anger issues and the Marine Corps simply do not mix and serving often only makes your issues much worse. The more hard headed you are, the harder serving in the USMC will be for you. The more flexible and open minded you are, the easier serving will be for you.
- If you currently have anger issues or attitude issues and are one of those weirdos who must ask "why" to everything, then you may not enjoy the USMC. Remember, the USMC is not a miracle worker; it does not always change you for the better. Each person has to allow for change and not all of us can do this which is why you have many who serve in all branches who do illegal things and who get kicked out.
- The USMC doesn’t make you into a cheater, a drunk, a smoker, or into an asshole. Chances are very good that this is how you were before you enlisted. Remember, experimenting with new things at this stage of your life is very normal and will occur regardless if you serve in the Corps or not.
- To think that if you toss our nation's criminals into the Corps that this will somehow make them into respectable citizens is just wrong. Not all of us are wired to do well and the USMC can't really fix these types.
- Remember that many who join the Marines are already a bit on the edge. So let’s not act shocked when they fuck up. A lot of wild teens enlist into the USMC and if they didn’t, they would be acting a fool elsewhere. Do not buy into the wonderful concept that just because a person becomes a Marine, he can do no wrong. Marines are humans just like everyone else and not all of them will live a positive life.
- And if you choose to enlist, then you better be prepared to live with people of all types. You all have to learn to get along no matter what you believe in or do for fun. So if you don’t party and your roommate does, then one of you better learn to give in because if not, it’s going to be a long enlistment.
- Serving in any branch in most cases is a positive experience. Unfortunately you have many who enlist for the wrong reasons and or who pick the wrong job and they end up hating their time in the USMC. In the end the experience is what you make of it. It would also be stupid of all of us to believe that everyone who enters the USMC will have a positive experience. If you serve multiple enlistments, then you obviously will experience more change, but if you serve only one enlistment, then you will become a normal person after being out for one year or so. Most of the change goes away soon after you leave the USMC. Of course if you experience horrific events while serving you can be forever changed.
- Never forget this: During the ages of 17-22, you are going to change a lot whether you serve in the Marine Corps or not, so let’s not blame the Marine Corps for every little thing a Marine does.