Dear John… (or Matt, Sean, Bill, etc),

“I really admire that you wanted to better yourself by joining the military and I’m proud of you, but I just don’t think I can wait for you to get back. I’m only 20 years old and I want to hang out and party with my friends. I didn’t want to tell you this by letter, but it’s the only way I could contact you. Maybe we can hang out one day when you get home.”

While not a verbatim letter that I ever received, I’ve read the above words in a number of variations through many of my friends. The Dear John letter is a very real thing for those who are serving or have served in the military.

Let me say first that the main thing I’ll be discussing in this article is my experience and that of the guys with whom I served in the Marine Corps. I’m sure a similar thing happens with female military personnel, but all of my anecdotes come straight from the male side of the house. I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience from the female perspective in the comments below!