Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for March 15, 2010 - Spc. Alejandra Alvarado

Specialist Alejandra Alvarado

Current Unit: 158th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
Current Position: Human Resources Specialist
Component: Arizona National Guard
Current Location: Kandahar, Afghanistan
Hometown: Yuma, Ariz.
Years of Service: 8

In her younger days, Spc. Alejandra Alvarado served three years in the Army Reserve. Now, an elementary school teacher, Alvarado has decided to put her books down and lace her combat boots back up for the National Guard after almost 20 years.

While Alvarado greatly enjoyed serving her country in the Army Reserve, she ultimately chose to leave the military after marrying a Marine.

"It is very difficult to have a married couple in different branches of the service. We tried to make it work, but after a time, one of us had to make the choice of getting out. I decided to put the paperwork in and commit to making the marriage work," she said.

After being out of the Army for nearly two decades, Alvarado admits she had regrets about not finishing her military career. When she received a recruiting postcard in the mail, the elementary school teacher took the opportunity to re-enlist in the Arizona National Guard.

"I was in my classroom in January 2006 having lunch with our school's librarian and I was expressing my yearning about wanting to have finished my military career. I thought it was impossible because I was too old," she said. "Low and behold, two weeks later, I got a postcard from the recruiter, and as they say, the rest is history."

On April 3, 2006, she made her dream a reality when she was sworn into the Arizona National Guard. Now the rank of specialist, Alvarado is currently half-way through her year-long deployment to Afghanistan with the 158th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and is serving as a human resources specialist. In that role, she is responsible for providing assistance to fellow Soldiers, including processing the paperwork for promotions, leave requests and training programs. Additionally, she helps to ensure their families are provided for while they are away.

"When a service member comes into see us, we have to make them feel comfortable and know that they can trust and rely on us to help them, so when they leave our office they have one less thing to worry about and they can focus entirely on their mission," she said.

Reflecting on her time overseas, the Soldier says it has taught her to not take the little things for granted, including the few opportunities she has to call home.

"I've come to appreciate the freedom of making a phone call. The simple phone call, which is usually taken for granted by many, has become a treasured commodity. It is a wonderful feeling to hear a loved one's voice, no matter how short it may be. You don't have time to argue, yell or get upset. Instead, you tell them you love them and miss them, and you reassure them that you're doing well, so as to not worry them," she said.

Alvarado is scheduled to return home in November, and the mother of three and grandmother of five is looking forward to being reunited with her family and friends.

"I can't wait to get back and see all of my wonderful family and friends," she said. "They know that I love them and I will be coming home soon and we can all laugh, play games, and hug each other."

Back in Yuma, Ariz., she also plans to return to her job as a teacher at Rancho Viejo and Salida Del Sol Elementary Schools. Although her contract with the National Guard ends in 2012, she already has plans to commit to another six-year term of service and she hopes to have the opportunity to deploy overseas again.

"This will for sure not be my last deployment," she said.

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