—USMC Photo by Sergeant Tyler Viglione
Written by Nate Hendren, Cpl. USMC '08-'12. Click here to read about the author.
Protein bars. Delicious and filling, a deviation from the usual and bland Marine Corps boot camp diet. It's no wonder they are the most requested item from recruits. But should you be sending them?
Here's a reasonable answer: We discourage sending anything to your recruit in boot camp other than cards and letters. If your recruit asks you to send something i.e. protein bars, then that's between you and your recruit.
It should go without being said, if you send your recruit anything other than cards and letters, then you will probably be soliciting an IT session between them and the drill instructors.
As a former Marine myself, I am adamantly opposed to the whole idea. Maybe it's because I'm a "bitter old Marine now" and I think this "new Corps has gone soft". But, alas, seeing the constant Facebook posts and emails inquiring about whether parents can send protein bars, whether they should send some for everybody, what flavor, are you sure, and blah, blah, blah, makes me want to slam my head on my desk over and over again. YOUR RECRUIT DOESN'T NEED THEM!
This is boot camp for the United States Marine Corps. This is Full Metal Jacket type stuff but in real life. Do you think Gunnery Sergeant Hartman would allow his recruits to eat delicious protein bars? These are the beginning stages of preparing for, dare I say it...War. Combat. Conflict. The mental conditioning for potentially harrowing experiences begins here. The purpose of boot camp is to rebuild recruits as warriors, free from civilian weakness (and appetites). If one cannot go three months without enjoying a "little treat", they may want to consider the dietary complexities associated with deployment: Cold MREs, eating them as fast as possible, and enjoying them with a little layer of caked dust on top. Sometimes you just don't have time to eat.
And that's the way it is.
To the recruit or poolee - you don't need the protein bars. Let boot camp be as mentally and physically challenging as possible. Don't try and rob yourself of what should be a tough experience. Learn discipline. Let it start small like this. These small things will lead to better discipline when it really counts. You can eat all the protein bars your heart desires once boot camp is over. You deserve it and you should enjoy it. Until then, have the backbone to reject a delicacy and further wean weakness from your body. When rounds eventually start going down range again, you'll be glad you did.