Why I Serve – Family, coupled with sense of pride, motivates Picatinny Marine

By Eric KowalMarch 21, 2024

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Why I Serve” is a series of feature articles highlighting the reasons why civilian and military personnel serve in various roles to support to the Picatinny Arsenal community.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - “The Few, The Proud,” is more than just a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting campaign slogan for one Marine stationed at U.S. Army Garrison Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho, of Newark, has been on active duty for eight years and currently serves as the Supply Non-Commissioned Officer assigned to 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines (2/25), Golf Company.

2/25 is a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve infantry battalion headquartered in Brooklyn, New York. It has units located throughout the Mid-Atlantic States and consists of approximately 1,000 Marines and sailors under the command of the 25th Marine Regiment and the 4th Marine Division.

Golf Company, located at Picatinny Arsenal, is one of the Battalion's Reserve units. It also consists of a small active-duty staff that facilitates the combat readiness of the reserve Marine unit. The Marines also assist in carrying out funeral honors, ensuring all Marine Corps Veterans who have served obtain the appropriate honors as a final salute to their life and the final demonstration of the country’s gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our nation.

Carvalho is one of a handful of active-duty Marines assigned to Golf Company, and she is the only female Marine currently serving in the unit.  With more than 6,000 Civilian and Military personnel working at Picatinny Arsenal, Carvalho is a needle in the haystack.

Interest in serving her country began when Carvalho was just 16 years old and a member of her high school’s track team.

“I sought out my recruiter when I was a sophomore,” Carvalho said. “I wanted a job that required me to be physically active. At the time I did not want to go to college at all.”

Because of her age at the time, Carvalho was too young to enlist on her own.

“I ended up going into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) when I was 17 years old,” she said, stating that her parents had to sign a waiver as part of the contract.

The DEP is a program designed to accommodate new enlistees into the United States Armed Forces before they ship out to basic training. Enlistees first enter the DEP as inactive reservists, then make a commitment to report for training on a specified date. However, they do not become active duty servicemembers until they formally enlist as such on that date.

Carvalho did end up giving college a try, taking a semester at Essex County College before departing for recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho with her mother and father
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho with her mother and father (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

“My parents were excited for me,” she said. “I was ready to go.  When I went to bootcamp I didn’t struggle physically, but more mentally because I had never been separated from my family from an extended period. That was the most challenging part for me.”

Upon completion of recruit training and Marine Combat Training, Carvalho then reported to Camp Johnson in North Carolina where she would complete Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) school to become a Supply Clerk.

Carvalho then received orders to Camp Pendleton, California where she would spend the next six years before getting assigned at Picatinny.

Now currently in college through the University of Maryland Global Campus, Carvalho aspires of one day becoming a Marine Corps officer. As for her next assignment however, the 26-year-old Marine aims to earn herself a spot as a Marine Security Guard assigned to one of the U.S. embassies around the globe.

“My family is probably the main reason I serve,” Carvalho said. “I am first generation American born.”

Carvalho’s parents, immigrants of Guyana and Cape Verde, are the driving force behind her motivation.

“I always wanted to do something that would make my parents proud of me. They like to brag about me,” Carvalho said with enthusiasm in her voice.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Now at a stage in her career where she has earned rank and gained experience, Carvalho is able to provide guidance to younger Marines, both male and female.

“Once I was enlisted my priorities shifted because the Marine Corps gave me a sense of pride and created goals for me to work towards achieving. I wanted to further my education, so I made sure I set time aside so that I could do that.

“Stay true to yourself. Know what it is that you want to achieve. Be willing and ready to listen and digest advice from leaders. It can be helpful, but at the end of the day your career is up to you. If you want to progress in this gun club, you need to realize what you need to do and go do it.”

If you are interested in learning more about enlisting in the Marine Corps, visit https://www.marines.com or send a text to MARINE (627463) to chat 9a-8:30p EST / 7 days a week.

Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho
Staff Sgt. Stephanie Carvalho (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Other articles in Picatinny's Why I Serve series:

Picatinny’s Sgt. Adlam – 'Life started for me when I enlisted in the Army'

3rd generation EOD technician