The following is a response to a comment written by a very gung ho individual. I figured it should be turned into an article.
You’re doing the same thing that so many Marine hopefuls do, focusing on boot camp and ignoring the 4+ years that come after it. While the dropout rate from boot camp may be comparable to other services (I don’t know if it is, I don’t feel like looking that up right now), the first enlistment attrition rate for the USMC is much higher than other branches.
As you noted, and I agree, the Marine Corps attracts motivated and determined people, most of whom choose the Marine Corps because they see it as the hard choice, a right of passage to manhood, the elite branch of the world’s elite military, etc. I think from personal experience that there are more optimistic hopefuls that join the Marines out of a sense of patriotic altruism than other branches, many of whom attract recruits through promises of job training and bonuses. Why then do so many of these determined young men literally leave in disgust after their first enlistment when compared to the other branches? Why is this branch the only one with a genuine hate site dedicated to it?
While it may sound strange, the Marine Corps is difficult, but it’s difficult for the wrong reasons. It’s difficult in the wrong ways.
While it could be difficult to establish and hold to personalized physical training regimens within platoons or squads, that the participants might see results in higher P/CFT scores, you more often than not are treated to a lovely helping of squad pushups, buddy carries, and a six mile shuffle while screaming about a little yellow birdy every morning. Because that’s how the Marine Corps does PT, in sync and to the lowest common denominator.
While it could be difficult working with firm but fair NCO’s who know their jobs like the backs of their hands, you more often than not are directly supervised by semi-literate rubes who don’t know the difference between metric and standard but can tell you right now how high the female dress shoe heel is authorized to be, or how many steps a burial detail is meant to take from the hearse to the grave. Because those are questions that are asked on a board, and that’s how the Marine Corps finds promotion worthy enlisted.
It could be difficult to maintain gear to be ready at all times, but you’ll typically be tasked instead to ensure the SL-3 is complete, the record jacket is updated, the serial numbers are cataloged, the history , chips, dings, dents, scratches, the goddamn scuff marks, are all carefully annotated. It doesn’t matter that the fire extinguishers in the SL-3 are empty, the spare batteries are dripping acid, the Jerry cans have half an inch of mud and oil in them, and the gear is held together with 550 cord and prayers. Those problems are not what the inspection looks for, so they don’t exist. All that truly matters is that the unit looks good on paper.
Then there are things that shouldn’t be difficult, but the Marine Corps just love to make them so.
Walking from point A to point B? You’re marching in step to cadence while those who outrank you walk behind you laughing at how unfortunate/retarded you are.
Need to clean you room? You’re going to be at it every week at least once a week for at least five hours. Did you clean it well enough? Well, that depends on the mood of the inspector, and whether or not he wants to spend the weekend at home.
Spending your weekend not working? You get to listen to someone tell you not to rape, murder, pillage, or plunder the surrounding populace for a while after standing in formation for a few hours. Want to go on a vacation? You’re going to fill out and sign a form that says that you promise not to rape, murder, pillage, or plunder the populace after hearing the same speech. Depending on where you plan to go, you may also promise not to, among other things, swim in jellyfish infested waters, buy/sell/use/traffic drugs, train or sell gear to drug dealers (I’m not kidding), participate in human trafficking, or assault local law enforcement or their families. Why would you have to do this? So there’s a piece of paper to cover the ass of whoever is in charge of you, because, as an officer once analogized so poetically to me, “When a dog shits on your carpet, do you blame the dog, or his master, the one who trained him?”.
Many Marines have it much worse than these petty grievances, some feel frustrated that after over a decade of friends, limbs, and minds being spent in shit pit locales for semi-coherent and often changing reasons, said shit pits refuse to stop being so damned shitty. I was lucky, I got out with all my fingers and toes and had only one friend die many miles away from me when I was in Afghan. I never really said goodbye to him before separating, and I never saw him again. I didn’t have to listen to him scream and feel worthless like the guys that were with him. What then does our unit do to honor this Marine? Why, throw him a funeral on Leatherneck of course. Who got to stand out in the sun in the middle of the summer at various parade poses while listening to bible verses and speeches made by people who didn’t know him? His friends. Who sat in shaded stands while this funeral went down? A bunch of pretentious officers that couldn’t tell you the first thing about the guy, but oh so honored his memory with their very presence.
It’s these and many other endless, repetitive, grinding, pointlessly stupid slights to our pride and intelligence that drove so many of us out. Where we expected to find a rite of passage, we found pointlessly endless belittlement. We feel betrayed and lied to, we feel genuine hatred towards that disorganization that asked for so much, took what we gave, chewed us up and spat us out without a second glance. We feel taken advantage of, stepped on, thanklessly abused for no other purpose other than to feed the egos of those who didn’t deserve our respect.
The question then becomes why do some stay in? Some seemed to like it, these people were typically pretty low achievers before coming into the Marines, and find something there that’s a whole lot better than than where they came from. Speaking again from personal experience, many others stay in because they don’t want to try their luck on the outside, in the “real world”. I heard many arguments like “the economy sucks right now”, “all of life sucks, not just the Marine Corps”, “As soon as you pick up ‘insert next rank here’ you don’t have to do shit, why leave now?”. In truth, it think many senior enlisted and commissioned simply forget how things really are, and see their careers through rose tinted glasses. In the end, I think it’s something like this:
Things won’t change until these issues come to light and are actually addressed. That’s what being a Marine should mean, finding your flaws and addressing them.
Original comment: http://ihatetheusmc.com/first-regretted-quitting-now-glad-more-than-ever/#comment-1622140016