JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Military spouses are a distinct type of spouse as they pay the price for freedom too. From holding down the fort between temporary duty assignments and deployments to packing up a house and moving every few years, spouses are the constant that service members need.
For nearly two decades, this has been the life of U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Amanda Martinez, officer in charge of readiness and logistics with the 62nd Medical Squadron.
“It’s a choice,” Martinez said. “Of course we accept that choice, but the cost is high and it impacts you in many ways.”
Life as a Military Spouse
In 2003, the Colorado Springs, Colorado, native met her husband, Daniel, who was with the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Carson.
Soon thereafter, Daniel deployed to Iraq.
“We just kept writing each other and he would call when he could,” Martinez said. “Back then, communication wasn’t great, especially in Iraq, so that was a bit challenging.”
Through the hardships of written letters, limited phone calls and adding another deployment under their belt, Daniel and Amanda tied the knot in 2006 prior to relocating to Fort Hood, Texas.
“I think as a military spouse, some of the biggest challenges is just not knowing what to expect in certain situations,” Martinez said. “They might have a job where they can’t tell you what they’re doing, [or] when they’re deployed, you don’t know if they’re safe. There’s a lot of unknowns and a lot of things that you just kind of have to go with the flow with … but, I think it gets easier.”
After three years at Fort Hood, Texas, the Martinezes moved back to Fort Carson. Two years and a deployment later, they were off to Norway to complete a NATO assignment, where they welcomed their daughter, Harper.
In 2014, they moved back stateside and were stationed at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they welcomed their son, Brady, and Daniel added on one more deployment.
Six years later, in the year that “normal” seemed to lose its meaning, the Martinezes made their journey to Washington.
Through six moves and four deployments, a lot of milestones, holidays and anniversaries were missed.
“When my husband [was] TDY, he missed our daughter walking,” Martinez said. “He also happened to be TDY when our son started walking. So, some of that stuff is hard because you can’t just quite get it back, as far as being in person and experiencing that, but we’re so grateful to have technology [because] I was able to video all of it.”
While six moves and four deployments may seem difficult, Martinez remained resilient.
“You don’t know how strong you are,” Martinez said. “You just get through it when you don’t have a choice. I think that was my kind of mentality – you just have to keep moving forward.
“One of my all-time, favorite quotes by Stephen Hawking is, ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’ I always think about that.”
Desire to Serve
Martinez descends from a long line of service in the military which sparked a desire to serve herself.
“I always had the desire to be in the Air Force; I’ve always wanted to wear the uniform,” Martinez said.
Upon graduating high school, she decided to join the Air Force Reserves; however, she met her husband and her direction changed.
Martinez took on the role of a military spouse, although the longing to join the service never went away.
She tried and tried again to join the Air Force Reserves, even while stationed overseas, but unfortunately, the timing and opportunity never lined up.
Years had passed and while completing her Master’s degree in Business Administration, Martinez’s husband pushed her to continue fighting for her dream, but this time … from a different angle.
Martinez sought out the chance to commission onto active duty, but little did she know the trials and tribulations she was going to endure.
On her first attempt at taking the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, Martinez did not pass the math portion.
“This [was] discouraging,” Martinez said. “I waited six months and I tried again and I did [pass] … I was ready to submit for the board and they ended up cancelling the board for civilians.”
Despite the setback, Martinez remained positive and waited for the next board, until it was announced that it was delayed even longer.
One day, while home in Colorado visiting family, Martinez’s husband mentioned the United States Air Force Medical Service Corps.
“I said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Martinez said. “It lined up with my degrees and really what I wanted to do, where I think I could be successful and excel.”
Then started a completely new journey for Martinez.
The AFOQT is not required to go into the Medical Service Corps; however, a GRE is. A GRE is typically required when applying for graduate school, however, Martinez was able to receive a waiver due to her high GPA from her bachelor’s degree.
Juggling the discouragement of two failed attempts at the GRE and the stress that comes with a husband who is deployed while taking care of two children and taking her last three classes to complete her master’s degree, Martinez passed her GRE and was one of 33 civilians selected for the MSC.
“I wanted to go as far as I could go until the answer was no,” Martinez said. “If that meant I took the test five times, then I took the test five times. I just wanted to keep going [until] I had exhausted every effort on my part and it was out of my hands.”
After serving 18 years as a significant other in the military, Martinez added onto her role by raising her right hand and joining the ranks of the U.S. Air Force.
Martinez left for Officer Training School in the early spring of 2020 and is now stationed here with her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Martinez, a human resource specialist with the 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade.
“[I am] extremely proud of her accomplishments and her dedication,” Daniel said. “She sacrificed so many nights and weekends getting her graduate degree and preparing herself for military service all while raising two children on her own while I was on a remote tour.
“She has impressed me more and more every day and I am very lucky to have her in my life.”
From all of the road blocks, changes in direction and curve balls life threw at Martinez, she faced all of it head on and knew she wasn’t going to take “no” as an answer.
“I just think [that] if you want to do something, you just have to be persistent,” Martinez said. “You have to keep trying until you exhaust all your effort.
“I’m very happy; very grateful,” Martinez continued. “Sometimes, I pinch myself that I still can’t believe that this came true for me … I have every intention of seeing this through for 20 years and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to be home, go to school, have babies and raise my kids. So, I’m kind of doing it a little backwards, but I still can do it.”