Ellis Pinder enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1984 and retired in 2005. He attended recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., and was subsequently stationed at Quantico, Va.; Okinawa, Japan; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; and Camp Lejeune, N.C. Before his duties at Camp Lejeune, he served on recruiting duty in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
What drew you to enlist?
The military presented an inexpensive opportunity to venture away from home, experience unique challenges and lay the foundation for future educational and employment opportunities.
How has your military service influenced who you are today?
A lot of the qualities I acquired while in the military are embedded in how I conduct myself as well as the way I approach and am committed to completing tasks. Whenever I’m engaged with others, I try to apply lessons learned that are rooted in the camaraderie and cohesion of the military service. The military enhanced my mental toughness, patience, discipline and personal responsibility.
When it comes to discussing service with a veteran, what advice would you offer citizens who have not served?
While serving on recruiting duty, the military was viewed by many civilians as a last resort when all else falls through. After hearing that you served in the military, civilians sometimes tend to close the conversation loop, not sure of how to proceed or where the conversation will lead. Some veterans are not inclined to openly share information about themselves. As such, the interaction should be positive, display a true sense of interest in the veteran and take the form of a conversation one might have with someone who has had a diverse career. Not every veteran bears the scars of combat. Veterans served for different reasons, and many have traveled extensively. Their service is as varied as their socioeconomic backgrounds.