Sgt. Gleimarie Mendoza: Making valuable memories
By Annette P. Gomes, Army Warrior Care and Transition

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- If you were anywhere near the state of Texas on March 22, 2019, you might have heard the shrill of excitement coming from Sgt. Gleimarie Mendoza. She had just received notice she was headed to Tampa, Florida to compete in the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

"I was so excited but I was not sure if it was true because the person who originally told me thought I already knew so he did not really tell me, he just mentioned it. I was like "wait, what!?" So, after getting really nervous, doing some digging and finding out I definitely did make it, I did a happy dance and called like a million people," Mendoza laughed.

The pharmacy technician has a lot to smile about these days. A self-proclaimed "Army brat" due to her father's military career, Mendoza's primary focus is about moving forward after dealing with family tragedies and her own personal pain.

"The past that brought me to the Army is not exactly pretty," said Mendoza. "One of my brothers was shot during a robbery. His heart failed three times but he was resuscitated. My other brother was not so lucky, he died. This happened within two weeks of each other during my senior year in high school."

"After that, Mendoza wanted to escape Texas. "I gave up a scholarship to Texas State and went to college here in Florida to pursue a career in business management," she said. "It is a field I really had no interest in and really took me off the path I intended for myself. I realized I had been groomed for the Army my entire life and it was the lifestyle I craved so I came back to Texas to enlist."

A short time later, Mendoza joined the Army in 2012. In 2014, she suffered numerous physical setbacks including a torn ligament in her left foot and a ruptured muscle while playing soccer for the all-female post soccer team at Fort Bliss, Texas. A 2018 suicide attempt caused serious nerve and tendon damage in her left arm, wrist and hand. She would heal at Fort Hood's Warrior Transition Unit by reconnecting with her love of art and enrolling in adaptive sports. It's a place she describes as her window of opportunity.

"When I arrived at the WTU I was really in a bad place," explained Mendoza. "I was still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I tried to take my own life, and the repercussions of living in a post suicide attempt world with doors just shutting in my face left and right. The WTU was getting ready for the Army Trials and I just needed something to help me get out of my head while having something to look forward to. Honestly, my experience with the WTU has been mostly about these games. This was a door that opened and showed me there were still opportunities out there."

Mendoza's quest to bring home a few gold medals will commence on June 21 -30 in Tampa, Florida. She joins approximately 300 athletes who are representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command, United Kingdom Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, Canadian Armed Forces, Armed Forces of the Netherlands, and the Danish Armed Forces at the 2019 DoD Warrior Games. Athletes will compete in archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and for the first time in Warrior Games history, golf, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair rugby. She will compete in golf, shooting, swimming and wheelchair tennis.

"On a competitive scale from 1 to 10, I'm a solid 11.2. I am all about teamwork and getting it done. Team Army is here to win it and so am I," Mendoza laughed.

"I love the motto: Live life for the memories. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory," said Mendoza. "Deciding to sign up for the Army Trials and making the Army team for these Warrior Games has been a real turning point for me. This entire experience saved my life and has given me the opportunity to create the best memories. I just hope to save others through my experience."