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HN Roberto Monasterios, corpsman, Explosive Ordnance Technician, Advanced Training Center, will reach his end of active service in the Spring of 2018. Following his end of active service in the Navy, Monasterios will attend Salem State University in Salem, MA. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I’ve Learned: Roberto Monasterios

18 Jan 2018 | Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

> My childhood growing up was unique. Both of my parents were teachers, which meant they taught students from all different backgrounds and I was fortunate because I was able to experience a lot of different cultures. Another part of them both being teachers meant that they both had summers off. So until about age 10 I would spend every summer in Venezuela, which is where my father is from.

> My parents ended up getting divorced when I was around 11 and my mom became a single mother of two kids. We were left with almost no money when my father left so I had to take over as the man of the house, which made me grow up really fast.

> I have one younger sister. Until I was about 17 we fought constantly but that's because we're about two and a half years apart and we were always close enough yet far enough in age that we weren't ever really relating on the same things. But sooner or later we reached a point where we realized that we are both young adults and now we’re really close. We also bonded over our parents’ divorce.

> I try to be a really solid dude in terms of morals because all I saw growing up was single mom with crappy husbands or ex-husbands. Almost my entire family is made up of single moms. That was something that really influenced me and made me think that I had to try hard to be a good guy.

> By the time I reached my sophomore year of high school, I didn't care about grades because I’d already decided I was going to join the military. With my mom being a teacher she obviously thought grades were important so it was always a struggle there.

> My decision to join the Navy stemmed from my original plan to become a firefighter. I was part of a training program for high school students at Station 55 in Palm Desert, [Calif.] that was really interactive. The one thing I noticed after a couple of months there was that every single firefighter was prior service and until that point I hadn’t considered the military as an option.

> I've always preferred a physical challenge to a mental challenge. I was tired of the school system and I wanted to do something else. A few of the guys at the station told me their reasons for joining the Army or the Navy or the Marine Corps and, after hearing their stories, I knew I wanted to join the military.

> I decided the only way I was going to join the military was if I became the best. I learned about Navy Seals and I started getting ready for the process to go to Navy boot camp while also waiting to get processed to go to BUD/S. After about a year of waiting with little progress, I went to my recruiter in search of an alternate route.

> I asked him what my options were for a really physically demanding [military occupational specialty] and he told me about green side corpsman. I looked into it and learned about the medical background. I knew from that moment that I was going to be a [Fleet Marine Force] corpsman. I was going to be with the Marines.

> I worked really hard in Corps school, which allowed me more leeway when it came to choosing to work in a hospital or in the field with the Marines. Luckily I had a high enough [grade point average] where they let me go with the Marines, but they sent me to the Combat Center.

> When I got to the fleet I was stationed with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion. While there, I trained with the Marines and I learned what they did in addition to improving on my medical skills.

> Currently, I’m with Explosive Ordinance Disposal Advanced Training Center. I am only the third corpsman to have this job because it didn’t exist in our unit until just a few years ago. I go wherever the Marines do and because they are all senior ranking Marines I’ve learned a lot from them.

> Throughout my career, I was lucky enough to have awesome leaders who didn't let the little things slide. I've definitely developed leadership skills and one of the things I've learned from the military is that I want to be my own boss.

> When I get out, I will try to pursue my own business. I will surround myself with people who also want to be a part of this business and if I can make something that's my own and be in charge of it, it will be the greatest thing.

> I have been accepted into Salem State University. I will be pursuing an undergraduate degree in business administration, but I'm more interested in the graphic design program. I'm trying to enter a job field that I enjoy and getting into that industry would be so awesome. I'm obsessed with movies, comic books and pop culture in general, so why not pursue a job that is part of that community.

> My interest in pop culture stems from my love of a good story. As a little kid when I was first shown movies like Star Wars or The Mummy, films that were big productions, I was never scared of the monsters because I was more fascinated about the special effects that created the monster. I’ve always watched movies with a sense of wonder and thought about the behind the scenes of how they made it happen.

> I have a great affinity for tattoos. On my mom's side of the family, everyone is either a mechanic, a construction worker or a biker. The few uncles, great uncles and cousins I have are all tattooed from the neck down so I always found it normal that people got tattoos on their body. When I joined the military, I started learning the history of tattoos and I learned that it used to be a thing that only ex-cons or sailors got tattoos.

> I actually fell in love with tattoos because of the roots and culture that they have in the Navy. I love the history behind traditional artwork like mine but I also love when someone makes something unique. It's similar to making movies; you’re putting someone's ideas into action and bringing them to life.

> I would definitely say the need for confidence is one of the most memorable lessons I've learned while being here. Growing up, I was really self-conscious and I think the military can teach a lot of people how to develop gumption.

> I didn't realize until I developed self-confidence that Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “speak softly but carry a big stick”, holds true in the way I conduct myself as a corpsman. The quote really resonates with me because one of my seniors always used to say, be the quiet professional.

> Because of that mentality, you never want to underestimate people. You never know who might be the best leader.

> I think that's definitely helped me out in situations that become frustrating because I can approach them in a calm and relaxed manner. I think it's what ended up making me good as a corpsman, because I strive to be the guy who's calm in the midst of chaos.

> Something I’ve tried to pass on to the corpsmen in my old unit was not to be afraid of rank. Respect is a two-way street and they should never be afraid to ask a question or speak up for themselves.

> I think I can take all of those lessons into the civilian world. Those are easily things that I can build on because there's no one who is ever going to stop me from speaking my mind.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms