REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Army Materiel Command’s senior enlisted leader has had a career full of major accomplishments, but it is his family he is most proud of.
“I think the greatest compliment a person could give you is that you have great kids,” said AMC Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado.
Delgado held standards of respect and discipline, where the last thing his kids would want to hear is, “I’m disappointed.”
“I think there was so much love in the house,” he said. “I always tell them, ‘family is the most important thing in the world.’”
For military children, family is one of the only constants in their lives. Across the Department of Defense, there are more than 1.6 million military children who experience a childhood marked with change. Delgado’s four kids — Shaina, Kobe, Zahn and Aizah — are a part of this unique population.
“I think the most resilient kids in the world are military kids, based on lifestyles and the things they have to deal with growing up,” said Delgado. “They can adjust to almost any situation.”
This constant change includes multiple moves, deployments and time spent apart. But growing up, Delgado’s son, Pvt. Zahn Delgado, saw the challenges and rewards that come with service.
“I have always wanted to go back to the military type of lifestyle,” Pvt. Delgado said. “It has always been a huge option in the back of my mind, seeing what it did for my father.”
Pvt. Delgado recently graduated from Basic Combat Training, and said he felt that being a military child prepared him for this step.
“It gets you in the mindset of already being ready for anything that comes at you,” he said.
Pvt. Delgado is now in Advanced Individual Training, learning the critical skills he will need as a cyber operations specialist. He sees the cyber field as an opportunity to serve his country.
“Service is an amazing opportunity for anybody,” he said. “It’s what you put into it. And what you put into it, you will get out of it.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Delgado is overjoyed by his decision to serve, and even more with his specialty.
“It’s the future,” he said. “It makes me really proud, not only that he’s continuing our legacy of service, but he is in a field where he will make a difference.”
With pride in each of his kids and their accomplishments, Command Sgt. Maj. Delgado commends their service.
“Month of the Military Child is so important because it gives us the opportunity to give back to our kids, because they sacrifice as much as we do,” Command Sgt. Maj. Delgado said. “I think the older they get, they will look back and appreciate that they were a military child, when they see what is going on in the world and know that their parents are a part of making it better.”
Because Soldiers are often away from extended family, other Army families fill offer a network of support.
“Military kids are their family,” Command Sgt. Maj. Delgado said. “You don’t have cousins, aunts and uncles nearby because you move. We have to depend on our military peers, and the kids are the same way.”
That support can be particularly important when a parent is deployed. Command Sgt. Maj. Delgado deployed five times in his career. He estimates that translates into three years of lost time with his kids — missing events, important games and other life milestones. When he was back home, he volunteered to coach his kids’ sports teams like baseball, soccer and basketball.
“It was lost time spent back with them, and I felt like I owed them so much,” he said. “Without our Army spouses and children, our Soldiers would not be successful.”
Pvt. Delgado, who moved more than 10 times before he graduated high school, said that while moving was challenging it opened him up to new perspectives and ways of life.
“I got to go a lot of places other people didn’t get to go,” Pvt. Delgado said. “It was constant change, but for the better because you learn to adapt.”