Sometimes, my stories or articles might lead some to believe that I’m cool.

This probably isn’t one of them.

Two years ago, I was a full-time college student just out of the Corps.  I was attending school in Framingham, Massachusetts, a few hours south of my hometown in Vermont, affording me the opportunity to take sporadic trips back home to my old stomping ground and interact with the folks that knew me before my days in uniform.

Everyone that serves hears the rumors about training changing you.  Friends of friends whisper about America’s service members shipping off to boot camp to become desensitized to killing and indoctrinated with military programming.  Most of us agree, that although we do come back from boot camp with a newfound fear of everyone and everything that may outrank us, the people we are remain the same.  We may have picked up some new words in our vocabularies that don’t make any sense, we may have a slightly more skewed sense of humor, but ultimately, we’re the same old us, just with a fresh new paint job.  I, like many veterans, see my post service self as a best-case scenario.  The Alex I was before I shipped off to Paris Island had very similar values, but was a bit of a punk.  I came back changed, but overwhelmingly the same.  The values are still there, but the punk kid has long since faded away in favor of an “old-timey” appreciation for responsibility and commitment, and to be honest, I thought that was all that changed.