U.S. ARMY – Elizabeth Calderon
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I thought I had it all figured out after leaving the U.S. Army but there I was pregnant with my second child and struggling to make ends meet. I was regretting ever leaving the military in the first place. How could I let bad leadership scare me away from something I had set out to do? The picture perfect, happily ever after fairy tale I thought I was going to have was nonexistent. I did not want to rely on anyone else or even state assistance to get me through. I got myself in this situation and I was going to get myself out.


It was the year 2008, three months after I gave birth to my daughter I decided to join the Army again. I shipped back out to good old Fort Jackson, NC. I re-classed and a few weeks later found myself back in Fort Hood, TX where I had originally begun. I was being given a second chance (I thought to myself) to pick up where I left off and boy did I! I set goal after goal, worked hard, went to school (civilian and military) and volunteered as much as I could. Along with that came more responsibilities and then promotions. I achieved every single goal I set out to do. I realized that if I believe I could then it would become a reality. Every endeavor came so easily with that mind set. Things were looking up and thankfully, I had great mentorship this time around. Despite the back to back deployments my life was great. My children and I were no longer struggling. I began to feel that I was ready for another shot at love; it had been about four years since I was in a serious relationship.


I started seeing someone who I thought was finally “the one.” He was amazing, the sweetest smile, so good to me. A few months’ pass and there was talk of us getting more serious. I was ready to go all in. I was so excited but then he started drifting away, it tore me up inside. I did not understand what had gone wrong. We broke up and ten days later he took his life. It had only been ten days and I was still hoping he would call and we would make up. I did not know how bad he was struggling with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


It broke my heart; I fell into a deep depression myself. It felt as if the life was sucked out of me. I wanted to give up but was reminded that I had my children to raise still. What would I be teaching them if I took my life too? Nothing, I would be breaking their hearts just as bad if not worse. I turned to long distance running which helped me get through my deployments so I figured it help me through this chapter of my life. So, I began running eight miles every other day. I do not know how my body did it but it just kept going. Running helped get my mind off things.


I began evaluating my life and turned to God for guidance. My career was still on track and I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve as a Drill Sergeant for the U.S. Army. Due to all my life’s experiences, I could successfully mentor young Soldiers. I learned so much about myself during the process. Although life was not perfect with my traumatizing loss this past year, I am stronger than ever before. I am so motivated about life that whatever curve ball it throws at me I will always come out on top. The words “I will never accept defeat” are inscribed on my top right shoulder; a tattoo I got after my dear friend took his life. Not only do I live by these words as an Army Soldier but I live by these words in the day to day war we fight with the darkness of the world, the darkness of people’s hearts and the darkness of our own minds.

Service Member
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