This story was submitted by Rebekah Kind, who was extremely motivated to earn the title of Marine as a means of both serving her country, and personally self-actualizing. At the end of this entry is a link to a news article written about her, and a specific Parris Island practice that I can personally attest to having been practiced in 2003.
Following the events of September 11, 2001, I knew I wanted to serve my country. I was not looking for an easy path. The Marine Corps called my name even when I was a young teenager.
When I was finally old enough to join, I told my parents, and they talked me out of it...for a time. In 2016 I realized it was my last chance to join. I was 28 and would only just make the age cutoff. So, against my family's wishes, I joined the DEP.
I was about as motivated as a poolee could be. I went to PT sessions as often as possible, scored a 93 on the ASVAB, and looked forward to becoming an aviation mechanic for the Marines.
To give you an idea of my state of mind, before I shipped off to boot camp a MEPS employee asked me where I wanted to be stationed. I answered, "Wherever the Marine Corps will have me, sir!" Not only was I as patriotic and motivated as could be, but I was honored to be given this incredible opportunity. That is, until I got to Parris Island.
At boot camp I was taught that "Marines never lie, cheat, or steal," even as I witnessed said activity. I got there as a mentally and physically strong person, but soon after my arrival, began a descent into a shell of who I formerly was. I grew thin and sick, which was made even worse when I contracted pneumonia. Upon requesting to go to sick call for the first time - with pneumonia - I was mocked and berated.
This was the worst part, I think - being torn down, then never built back up. In fact, when my dad saw me the day I left Parris Island, he immediately noticed the change. I had gone from being a tough tomboy to someone who was afraid to look people in the eye. Because, on Parris Island, the moment you look someone in the eye you're told not to "eyeball" them. Having adapted to the environment, it only took a couple months of being treated with no dignity for me to lose confidence in myself, or my ability to do anything right, including walk down the sidewalk and cross paths with someone, particularly if they had that funny hat/belt combo.
I only wanted to serve my country as an aviation mechanic. I did not expect to be treated with disgrace and disgust at every turn. If I'd had leaders I could trust, I would have willingly run toward bullets. Instead, I was methodically shredded until there was nothing left to destroy.
Frankly, this is all fairly humiliating, so you might wonder why I would risk telling this story.
Why Am I Doing This?
I have made my experience public in the hopes that other young patriotic recruits will not have to continue to undergo the sort of degradation that I did. I may not have earned the right to say "Semper Fi," but neither does anyone else, because that phrase does not describe the USMC accurately. Always faithful? The Marine Corps has a lot of work to do in order to live up to that ideal.
I will write more about my experiences in boot camp as time permits.
I have nothing but the greatest respect for Marines who live up to the Corps' motto.