“I was twenty-one when I joined the Marines. I was on my way to school & my car broke down. The school was 30 minutes away & I couldn’t afford repairs so I was left with no choice but to drop out. After that I knew I had to do something to make it out of the situation.
I grew up a lot in the Marines. At boot camp, expectations were high & there was a low tolerance for anything but excellence. You had to do what you were told or face the consequences. You quickly learned that boot camp is not as much of an individual experience as you’d expect. There is a mutual dependency and trust that is built early on between the recruits. What made me successful then, and now, was the fear of failing those who depend on me to perform.
My parents are both from the Dominican Republic. They met in New York & moved to New Hampshire when I was three. I was one of my father’s seven kids but grew up mostly with my mom and three sisters. As the only male in a Hispanic family, I would have probably been pretty spoiled under normal circumstances, but I actually had to grow up fast. After a traumatic event, my mom started to suffer from anxiety and depression and eventually lost her job. We struggled financially and my sisters and I had to step up. I think living through that gave me more compassion for the struggles of others.
My first military assignment after training was Japan. I didn’t really want to go. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect but ended up loving it. I have since served in Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Burundi, and Singapore. In Sri Lanka I met Tanya, who is now my fiancé. We have been in a long distance relationship for two years but are finally reuniting in a few weeks. I am hanging up the uniform for a while and moving back to Sri Lanka. But first, she gets to meet my entire family back in the States. This is only the fourth time all of my siblings are gathering in one place. No pressure.”
– Kervin Rodriguez, Marine Security Guard