LANDSTUHL, Germany – Through consistency and determination in her career as a noncommissioned officer, Staff Sgt. Keila Ortiz-Cabrera, a veterinary food inspector assigned to the Baumholder Army Veterinary Treatment Facility, reaches one milestone after another.
A native of Puerto Rico, Ortiz-Cabrera, enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school when she turned 18 years old.
“I joined the military to better the opportunities for myself and my family,” Ortiz-Cabrera said. “I wanted to move to the U.S. and see what else it out there.”
Ortiz-Cabrera does not come from a military family and is the only one in her family who has served.
“I didn’t know much English so I participated in an English program to learn the language,” added Ortiz-Cabrera. “From there, I also took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test and, as a result, had a few career options to choose from.”
According to Ortiz-Cabrera, leaving home and moving to a foreign country was, “well worth the sacrifice.”
“The unknown was intimidating at first, but I knew joining was the right decision and eventually it was better,” added Ortiz-Cabrera.
As a veterinary food inspector, Ortiz-Cabrera is in charge of food safety, quality assurance, and protection from unintentional or intentional contamination of food for service members and their families.
“The duties of a veterinary food inspector vary depending on where you are assigned,” said Ortiz-Cabrera. “When I was stationed at Rota, Spain, we worked closely with the Navy and assisted the ships with getting food on deck. Surveillance ships, however, can’t leave their assigned area so they wouldn’t come to port to receive their supplies.”
Ortiz-Cabrera is currently the noncommissioned officer in charge at the Baumholder Veterinary Treatment Facility.
“Here in Germany, I assist in supervising food inspectors and take part in the inspection audits for the food plants,” said Ortiz-Cabrera.
Ortiz-Cabrera enjoys the many opportunities the U.S. Army provides and she continues to challenge herself.
One of her most recent successes was being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.
“For me, the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is the club of excellence and honoring tradition,” said Ortiz-Cabrera. “Becoming a member is a milestone in my NCO career and proves that with consistency you can reach whatever goal you put your mind to.”
The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is comprised of the top two percent of the noncommissioned officers in the U.S. Army. Members are selected to the club based on demonstrated leadership, professionalism and overall general military knowledge.
Sgt. Malaysia Ford, a fellow PHA-RP soldier who trains with Ortiz-Cabrera for Air Assault School, together and describes her as “a strong-minded, resilient noncommissioned officer.”
“Her efforts as a fearless leader in the U.S. Army have proven that not only can she talk a good game but can play it as well,” added Ford. “She has taught me so much over the few years that I’ve known her. When she is around, I know that I have a person on my team that will put my needs, and everyone else’s needs above her own.”
Taking care of her soldiers and being a good leader and mentor is near and dear to Ortiz-Cabrera heart.
“Each sergeant is responsible for the training and welfare of the Soldiers in their care and I’m honored that I am able to influence, guide and lead my Soldiers as a way of giving back to the community,” said Ortiz-Cabrera.
When Ortiz-Cabrera finishes her tour in Germany next spring, she is scheduled to move to Fort Sill, OK, to become a drill sergeant.
“Being a drill sergeant is a tremendous responsibility because we teach new recruits basic combat training and Army warrior tasks to shape them into soldiers,” said Ortiz-Cabrera.
The Drill Sergeant Academy will be strenuous, but Ortiz-Cabrera is positive that she will succeed.
“It is all in your mind,” said Ortiz-Cabrera. “Through consistency, determination and focus, you are able to thrive. If you stay consistent, you are always ready to go. Bu, if you even think you might fail, you will fail. You have to believe in yourself.”