Less than 1% of the U.S. population serves in the nation’s military. On duty, they go by captain, sergeant or airman, but off the clock, when they aren’t dressed in camo, these 2.1 million brave men and women aren’t all that different from the civilians they protect.

To help foster connection and understanding between civilians and service members, we created this series, “Front & Center,” and traveled to USO locations around the world. We spoke to troops about the hardships of deployment, life in the military and the everyday things they love – favorite snacks, family traditions and watching their favorite sports teams, no matter where they are in the world.

Some troops shared hilarious memories with us. Others told us how much they missed spending the holidays with their families. But every service member agreed to let us take their portrait and share their story as part of “Front & Center” so that we could open up the world of the military to those they are fighting for back home.

Take a look: