The Military Culture Hillary Sanding

The life of living and working on the grounds of the United States military base is a choice upon those who serve in the Armed Forces.

During spring break, I got a job to work part time on the base of Camp Pendleton as a “Role player” and take part of simulations with along the marines for 3 consecutive days. The service men and women who were decked out in full gear with rifles, were doing these training simulations to prepare themselves for their deployment overseas. As I was a “Role player” that represented as a Filipino villager as like many other coworkers of mine were mostly also Filipinos, we shared our culture to the marines that patrolled the streets in one of the many simulated towns as it was a required part of the job description.

There were also marines who were “Role players” who performed as villagers of the town I stayed in, which they were more relaxed in comparison to those who were preparing for deployment, which were more conservative and doing their service. From observing the training from windows and streets, I saw and learned of how close among the marine villagers’ community in the town. As demographics is defined as “The characteristics of a population, especially as classified by race, ethnicity, age, sex, and income.” (Martin and Nakayama 6), I saw also from my observation among both of the marines going to deployment and acting as a “role player” were mostly consisted of a young age demographic from 18 to early 20's. I was shocked to find people who were either at my age or even younger than me on the training camp, as I was not aware of the demographic before I even got hired for the job.

For my job, I took the Interpretative approach towards both types of marines, which is- “An approach to intercultural communication that aims to understand and describe human behavior within specific cultural groups based on the assumptions that (1) human experience is subjective, (2) human behavior is creative rather than determined or easily predicted, and (3) culture is created and maintained through communication.” (Martin and Nakayama 59).

By this approach, I saw that their culture of free roaming as like a villager would do in comparison to those who were going out for deployment allowed my people, the Filipinos to share food with them as for example: a bag of Doritos to one marine was the equivalent to one Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) for a small sized party of Filipino women. That particular memory is quite the one thing that I cannot forget since I was there.

I experienced embodied ethnocentrism, the “Feeling comfortable and familiar in the spaces, behaviors, and actions of others in our own cultural surroundings.” (Martin and Nakayama 88) as during the days I worked on the base, which I grew use to the marines, my co-workers of the Filipino community, and the town that I grown to love for it being a new place and hate it for the lack of opportunities of going to the restroom.

This reality did not last long for myself as it was only a part-time job, and it was the marines within the town taking this a full time job for about two weeks long. Due to the fact that I am not working the military and worked under a company that employed civilians, the marines did not go home to their dorms or families on base after the day and were required to sleep on every night as it is part of their job training.

It was the 3rd day of my job that I got the chance to ask one of the marines who were role playing villagers. His name was “Jonathan”, who stayed in one of the housing structures that neighbored by my family’s home within the town. He revealed that he was currently Corporal, who has finished his first 4 years since enlisting at the age of 18 and chosen to work as a “role player” for the time being before re-enlisting. The reason that he enlisted was due to the fact that innocent people, specifically friends and family were hurt at the Boston Marathon bombing and he lived near where it happened in 2013. He stated that he has been married for 3 years and just became a father to a daughter just recently, which has himself thinking to work 6 or more years to get his child to college instead enlisting into the military like what he and his parents as well as grandparents did. I was shocked, yet enthusiastically amazed that there were people much younger than I was, having spouses and kids this early. He also stated about the stress and sadness of being far away from his wife, who lives in their house upon the base. For example, if his wife who works off base and also wants to make plans with him to go somewhere or do something, the plan may be called off by a sudden notification that he has to immediately leave for training or deployment and that leads to disappointment. He states that they live in an area with houses that consist of other military families, which he does say there is a community among the spouses and children left behind from those who deploy overseas. With my eyes opened wide, I thanked him for servicing and the conversation we had as my world grew even more while on my job.

As of now, “servicemembers want to live in a community that offers stability and continuity as a backdrop for deployment, reassignment, and day-to-day life.” (Harper). From looking at my talk with Jonathan, I learned that working full time as a soldier for the United States means to sacrifice time with family and their own life for everyone else’s freedom.

The life of a military family differs from a civilian family that lives off base, which there is sacrifice in spending time with those who are in currently active in duty. It is a fairly conservative life as those who live on base, need to abide by the rules while on base. As school and commissary markets are located close to the homes, the soldiers of those families working near by upon the base are also not able to be access the stores or restaurants when they are on duty.

To summarize, my job experience was not only helpful to the men and women who were training for deploying overseas by sharing my culture as a Filipino, it was also helpful for myself to be open towards those who are part of a military family. There are those who are of my age that are in the armed forces, which now I even more respect their sacrifice for my freedom of living here. The military culture is something I was not very aware about until I took on that job during spring break, but it was indeed positively rewarding. So the next time I see a service man or woman in either uniform or not, I want to say thank you and I appreciate of what you are doing.


Harper, John. "Living on Base: Pros and Cons." Military Advantage, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.

Jonathan. Personal Interview. 03 Apr. 2017.

Martin, Judith N., and Thomas K. Nakayama. Intercultural Communication in Contexts. Boston:McGraw-Hill, 2010. Print.


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