For the latter, there is discussions flying around about shutting down MCRD San Diego and Parris Island. The reason, as I understand, is because of what this topic is truly about: integrating boot camps for male and female recruits.
For those who are unaware, traditionally females and males were in separate platoons for boot camp. All other training, to include MCT and MOS school, is fully integrated. All females were part of 4th Battalion in Parris Island, whereas males could be sent to different platoons at Parris Island or San Diego (you may have heard of the reference "Hollywood Marine").
So the major discussion point that, quite frankly, isn't new to the Corps: should we be integrating males and females during boot camp?
My answer isn't as simple as yes or no because, quite frankly, I do not have the perspective of what it would be like to train with males in boot camp. I spent my 13 weeks with an all-female drill instructor team and platoon. In fact, if we were marching past a platoon of males either we were stopped and told to about-face or they were.
And in retrospect, I am thankful for that experience.
The intention of Marine Corps boot camp is to essentially break down an individual to build them back up into a United States Marine. With that comes a type of mentality that can only be shared if you have undergone this experience. I believe that mentality is part of every single one of those that have served. But to me, as a female, there is something else that I was given that I strongly believe was pivotal in my training to earn the title: the mentality of how to serve and what to expect as a female Marine from female NCO and SNCO leaders.
While this shouldn't be necessary, it is a fact that the experiences many female Marines are faced with is simply because we are females. We are oftentimes, if not always, outnumbered to men by a long-shot. The experiences and hardships we face from that regard can be extremely difficult to overcome- but I was at least prepared for this as my drill instructors reinforced the importance of maintaining a moral compass as a woman and understanding we will likely have to work a little harder than our counterparts solely because we were females.
So when I feel saddened for future female Marines, that is what I mean. I imagine that their set-up will be very similar to MCT in that we trained all day with males, but we showered and slept in an all-female squad bay. I had a female instructor in MCT, but I do not recall much of anything about her. It was not the same experience as I had with an all-female DI team. Each of which I remember by name.
Again this is just my experience and I do not speak for all females. I believe there are potentially some positives that come out of this. For example, not segrating males and females from the beginning could reinforce the notion that we are all just Marines, no need to specify sex.
Only time will tell and I hope whatever the Corps is looking to achieve by integrating is a success.
-A Crusty Old Marine Corps 4th Battalion Parris Island Veteran