My story by Lisa Fuenzalida, R.N.
Home Care Registered Nurse with AgeSpan since 2020
Growing up as a kid in the 1980s, I remember seeing the “Be All You Can Be” Army commercials on TV. I remember admiring the soldiers and thinking I’d like to be like them one day. I would say we were a patriotic family. My father served in the Navy and all my uncles were enlisted in one branch of service or another.
I didn’t seriously consider enlisting until I was in my mid-20s. At that point, I had already graduated from college and was working full time, but something was missing. I wanted a change and was up for a challenge. It was then that I had a now or never moment and went to the recruiting station.
When I went to Basic Training in August of 2001, I never imagined the horrors that would unfold only a month later on 9/11. Being untrained and without access to news media, we were mostly isolated from the events until after graduation. I then went on to train in Broadcast Journalism as part of a Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. After completing my training, deployment was a looming inevitability.
My unit deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from October 2002 until Sept 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. My primary duties included interviewing, photographing, and video recording soldiers as they lived and worked on base. We also worked at the base radio station, wrote, and produced the base newspaper, assisted with press conferences, and escorted civilian media. Our slogan was, “We’ll make you famous!” While on deployment, I even got to interview my favorite musician Jimmy Buffett, during a USO tour. That was a huge thrill for me!
I feel grateful to have had such a positive experience in the Army Reserve. My time in service gave me the confidence to return home and apply to nursing school, which was partially funded by the GI Bill. I continued my reservist duties while in school and traveled overseas to Germany and South Korea. The end of my enlistment coincided with nursing school graduation, so I decided to end my military service and start a new chapter, but I will always be grateful for the experience and continued benefits.
To all my fellow veterans, Thank you for your service!