Before participating in this video, what details did you know about the project?

I didn’t know anything about it. Nothing. I was just sitting at the USO airport Center, waiting on my layover, and someone just came up to me and asked me if I wanted to do it. And I was like, “I’ve got nothing to do for the next eight hours, so why not?”

In your daily life, how often do you talk to civilians about life in the military? Are you honest with them about life in the military, and all of its ups and downs?

Not at all. Even when I go back home on vacation, I don’t really talk about it. If I do, I don’t feel like I’m very honest. I just give them the big picture of what we do. There are a lot of great things that I don’t mention, mainly because I’m not thinking about it. And there are a lot of hard aspects about the military that not every civilian wants to hear about.

What did you think of your conversation with Angela?

It was something different, something new. You’re just thinking about catching the plane, falling asleep and getting to your destination. But this was definitely a fun experience. And talking with Angela is just one of those conversations that you don’t plan on having.

When you’re at the USO, you talk with other military members, so you have conversations and can be on the same page. But talking with Angela, we’re just talking people to people. We’re humans. We go through good days and bad days, just in different ways.

Was there a particular moment in the conversation that stood out to you?

I’d say the part of the conversation where she shared what she’s doing — her job and where she was at in life at that point — was something that stood out because she was trying to support her family. And the hardest part was being away from family and missing them. It’s the same in the military, traveling a lot and being away from family, and it’s hard.

What was the strongest connection between you two?

We’re working for our own goals. You’re doing what you like at the time, even though it’s hard. You keep going and you enjoy it because you’re trying to get that goal that you want. There’s going to be ups and downs, but no matter if it’s in the military or schoolwork or your civilian day-to-day job, we all go through ups and downs.

What was the greatest difference between you two?

I think she’s a little bit older than me, so that may be the only difference. It feels like we are both social, very friendly people, so very similar.

What do you feel is the most important thing you gained from this experience?

We all have struggles and it doesn’t matter that just because I’m in the military I might have it easier, or just because she’s a civilian she has a great life. If anything, I would say there’s more of a secure side with the military aspect because you have housing, you have a paycheck, and you have what to do. In the civilian world, I would say it’s harder because out there you don’t have a schedule. You could get fired anytime. But I don’t want to generalize because that’s my opinion … that’s me, based on my lifestyle.

Did you feel comfortable speaking about your military career with Angela?

My goal was not to mention that I was in the military until the end of our conversation. I was curious to see her reaction and see what opinions she had about the military, and what she thought about people in the military before our conversation.

What is one thing about being in the military that you wish civilians knew or understood?

In the civilian world, there’s a lot of controversy about political stands. When you’re in the military, it doesn’t matter. You’re just serving your country and you are here doing your service.

Something else is that there’s almost every job that’s out there in the civilian world … all the way from being a cook to being a mechanic, to being a financial analyst, to being a missile guide person and being the person who kicks down doors. We all have the same mission, and it doesn’t matter what branch you are in – we all serve the same purpose.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a service member?

Anybody can sign up, get physically fit, pass the test and join. But the fact that once you’re in here, having that mindset that you’re no longer a civilian, you now follow different rules. You’re representing something bigger than yourself. You’re representing the organization. When we go out there in uniform, everybody looks at us as U.S. Marines or service members of the United States. That’s when you put your personal thoughts to the side. You need to be able to compartmentalize and separate those two things … and a lot of people are not very comfortable with doing that.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a service member?

The pride that comes with it. The feeling of that gratitude that you get. You’re not doing it for that, but it definitely feels good, and people look up to you, people see you as something different. And just making those people around you proud — definitely my family, mom, dad and my siblings. I’m the oldest of my brothers, and I feel like I’m creating a good image for them, not necessarily to follow, but to have a guide. And just being able to help.

At the USO, we often talk about the “military-civilian divide” — the social and cultural gulf between service members and civilians, in which there are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings. As a service member, how many civilians do you talk to regularly? If none, why?

Here in Germany — as far as civilians who aren’t affiliated with the military — I would say on a daily or weekly basis – none, unless I’m out on the weekend and I meet a tourist. And then we definitely do not talk about the military.

In your opinion, what are some of the barriers that prevent service members from connecting with civilians?

Time and location have a lot to do with it … so I would say it’s just the opportunity to do so. We work on-base and we live on-base. We rarely go out. When I was stationed in Hawaii, there were volunteer opportunities with the local community on the weekends. The civilians would say, “We thought you guys were super serious.” And it’s like, no, we’re friendly. We’re out here to help.

If you were to propose a solution to bridging the military-civilian divide, what would you suggest people do to meet each other halfway across that bridge?

Creating more events or volunteer opportunities with a community outreach purpose, on a more consistent basis. I’m thinking about Hawaii and how we would clean a park or the beach. They see a big group of people with the same shirts, and they realize who we are.

Do you see any benefits to bridging the divide?

Friendships. Having those opportunities would create more support for service members who are alone, like when they’re out of state and don’t have friends there. For example, if there were a bowling alley in town and civilians and service members just got together. You could think, “Now we have friends - someone to talk to, someone to hang out with.” Not everybody’s very social and outgoing, so having a place like that to talk with someone … otherwise, you won’t be out there and going out yourself.

Do you think organizations like the USO can help to bridge that divide?

Yes, 100%. At Marine Corps Base Hawaii Camp Smith, I was the program representative for the Single Marine Program. The USO was always there to say, “How can we help you out? What do you want to do?” They’d provide food and beverages, games, maybe some gift bags. The USO coordinator would give me ideas that I hadn’t even thought about.

Have you stayed in touch with Angela since filming the project?

I followed her on social media for a while, and every now and then, I’d ask, “Hey, how are you doing?” and she would reply to my stories. I got away from social media for a while and lost communication with Angela a few months ago.