Military Latinas, Defending the Nation with Pride
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
For many Latinas, joining the military
provides many benefits, both professionally and
personally. Whether they are in the U.S. military
academy, serve in combat roles or are civilians, the
military has provided invaluable knowledge and
experience. Read how serving in the military has
changed the lives of 16 Latinas despite challenges and
sometimes dangerous work.
Sergeant First Class
SFC Carole M. Alonzo-Mercado, a native of
La Ceiba, Honduras was inspired by her
stepfather to enlist in the Army Reserve on
September 1994 as MOS 43M10 (92S),
Shower/Laundry and Clothing Repair
Specialist. “I regularly accompanied him to
Army Installations in Puerto Rico,” she shares.
“The Army’s respect and treatment through
him sparked in me the desire of wearing the uniform and someday earning the
respect of others.”
After attending Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Advance
Individual Training at Fort Lee, Virginia, she served eight years with the 597th
Quartermaster Company, Puerto Rico. Alonzo-Mercado transferred to the active
Army in July 2002 and re-classed in 2013 to MOS 51C, Contracting NCO.
Alonzo-Mercado initially joined the Army reserve to provide additional
support for her university career. After a few years and the events of 9/11, she
decided to serve in a full-time capacity and join active duty.
“Like many others, the 9/11 events changed my life,” she states. “I wanted
to help fight for freedom and make sure those events did not happen again.
Today, 16 years later there is no turning back, so I will retire with 28 years of
service and hopefully my Master’s degree.”
Alonzo-Mercado has held numerous assignments in the past 24 years of
service in quartermaster and logistics units throughout the United States,
Middle East, and the Pacific. She is currently serving as a Training and Developer
for the TRADOC Capability Manager for Operation Contracting Support Section
(TCM-OCS), Combined Arms Support Command.
For Alonzo-Mercado, the best part of her job is the cultural diversity and all
the experiences. “In the military the diversity is boundless and you will meet
people from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences that other
organizations cannot offer,” she says. “Learning from fellow soldiers with
different languages and cultural backgrounds, has increased my knowledge and
respect for others and the mission we all have in the Army.”
Denisse R. Szmigiel
“As a civilian engineer, I decided to work for
the Military because I wanted to be part of
developing the best technology for the
warfighter,” shares Denisse R. Szmigiel, Deputy
Director, U.S. Army Research, Development
and Engineering Command-Americas.
Szmigiel became Deputy Director with the
U.S. Army Research, Development and
Engineering Command-Americas (RDECOM
Americas) in Chile on July, 2015.
Before assuming her position at
RDECOM, Szmigiel served as an Operations
Research Analyst (ORSA) with the Department
of Veterans Affairs from 2012 to 2015 supporting the Procurement Services
Directors and Associate Executive Director on various phases of program
development and implementation of key VA acquisition programs, contracts and
operations. For Szmigiel, working with people from all different backgrounds:
civilians, military, industry, academia, government, U.S. and foreign is the best part
of her job. Additional assignments include Operations Research Analyst at the
Deputy Assistance Secretary of the Army for Cost and Economics (DASA-C&E)
located in the Pentagon and Fort Belvoir, VA from 2011 to 2012; Program
Integration Specialist at DCMA in Manassas, VA from 2010 to 2011; ARDEC
Project Officer, Quality and Systems Engineer at ARDEC located in Picatinny
Arsenal from 2007-2010; International Cooperative Specialist at the U.S. Embassy
in Santiago, Chile from April 2009 to September 2009.
Szmigiel earned a Masters of Technology Management from the Stevens
Institute of Technology in 2009, and a Bachelor's of Science in Industrial
Engineering including a Mini-MBA from Rutgers University in 2003.
The U.S. Marine
Corps Major Amber
“I met with a Marine Corps recruiter while I was
in high school, and the challenge of serving my
country in the most selective military service
instantly appealed to me,” shares Major Amber
Coleman. “There were so many people who
said I couldn’t do it or that I would never make
it. All of those comments just made me want
Major Coleman has distinguished herself
through exemplary service as the Branch Head, Advanced Analytics Branch,
Studies, Analysis, & Innovation Division, Quality Management Center, Marine Corps
Logistics Command, Albany, Georgia from August 2017 to July 2018.
28 LATINAStyle www.latinastyle.com Vol. 24, No. 6, 2018