“It’s not you, USMC, it’s me. No, that’s not true. After so much dishonesty, and talking around each other, I have to be honest. It’s you.”

Peter Lucier, a Marine rifleman who served from 2008–2013 and deployed to Afghanistan during that time, wrote an open letter to the Marine Corps, explaining how his youthfully innocent love of the Corps gave way to much-needed skepticism.

“I think you are in trouble, Marine Corps. I think you have hard times ahead of you. It kills me to leave you now, when I see you drowning. But I can’t help you, not as a lover. So I’m leaving. I will study the ways of the enemy. I will learn the lessons he tried to teach us. And when I know what I need to know, I’ll return.”

“I’ll come with a new story. It will be a painful one. Young boys will always come to you, looking to test themselves as I did. And they’ll fall in love with you, just like I did. But I will leave a warning for them. A warning called Afghanistan. … This will be our new story. Love, always love. But caution. Temperance. We will teach them to value efficacy as much as we valued effort.”