I was seventeen and still in high school when I joined the Marine Corps. After boot camp, I was assigned to drive large military trucks in the Transport Pool, a challenge for someone of my stature. I discovered being a Marine was hard, but being a female Marine was a hundred times harder. I had to be stronger, smarter, and faster than my male counterparts. Regardless of the challenges, sleepless nights, and the emotional pain, I loved the Corps. Putting on my uniform gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment.
While in the Corps, I got pregnant with my daughter. It became more difficult when God, country, and Corps came first before raising my child. Leaving her for long periods was painful. I missed many of her firsts, including the joy of hearing her call me “Mommy”. Disappointment in my leadership’s lack of support and frustration dealing with peers’ sexist mentalities made it difficult to do my job. After much deliberation, I knew I had to put my daughter first. On September 11, 2015, I put my uniform to rest. It was an emotional, bittersweet day. I loved my country and the Corps, but I needed to move ahead and make a life for my daughter and me.
My mother taught me to be a fighter and not depend on anyone. She inspired me to be successful and fueled my drive to accomplish more in life. With her words in mind after leaving the Corps, I pursued and recently completed associate degrees in Business Administration and Real Estate at American River College. With the support of family, friends, and the ARC Veteran Resource Center (VRC), I was given the tools needed to reintegrate back into civilian life and pursue my educational goals.
When I started out in the VRC I was part of the work-study program. I now serve fellow Veterans as a clerk, continuing the opportunity to help change one Veteran’s life by sharing information and welcoming him or her into a caring community the same way my fellow Veterans helped me.
I am very proud to be a Woman Veteran and a Marine. But by far, the accomplishment I am proudest of is being a mom.