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There were many times during my service in the Marine Corps I was reminded who was serving who. I’d like to think they got their money’s worth. Being out of the Corps for a decade it’s clear they didn’t get all the benefit. I won’t speak for all Marines, not even the ones I know personally. I can’t tell you what they feel they got out of their experience. I can’t speak intelligently about why they joined, why they served, or if they’re thankful for the experience. I’ve heard, and even said, the common answers: I joined to serve my country; I served for my family and my country; The VA is a complete pain in the ass. You’ve probably heard some of those too.
Here’s a little secret about my service: I joined for me. The prospect of serving my country was nice but it was at best just icing on the cake. I did it for me. It wasn’t to prove something to the other folks in my town, school, or family. I could have just joined the ones that carried the uneasy, knee-jerk excuses of why they didn’t join and how they’re smarter for it. If I had gone to college and stayed out of prison I’m sure I could have made a pretty good case for how I was indirectly serving my country one way or another. I joined for me.