TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Tyndall Air Force Base is home to many Airmen who enlisted in the pursuit of structure and stability. These are two life goals Airman 1st Class Yara Martinez had for her and her six-year-old son.
Martinez, an 81st Air Control Squadron interface control technician, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She relocated with her now ex-husband to the United States after he was offered a job in Louisiana following his separation from the Army Reserves. Despite Martinez having two bachelor’s degrees, one in accounting and one in human resources, from the University of Puerto Rico, it was difficult finding a job.
“Even though I earned my degrees in Puerto Rico, they are still valid,” said Martinez. “I was very much qualified for the jobs I applied for, but they did not see that. I ended up working at a youth center and as supervisor at an Apple store.”
After Martinez’s marriage ended, she needed to find an occupation that would allow her to provide for her son on her own.
“I wasn’t financially stable and I was alone since I left my family back in Puerto Rico,” said Martinez. “I enlisted in the Air Force because I needed to provide security, stability and time to my son. I wanted to have a second chance for me to follow my dreams and one day allow my son to accomplish his own dreams.”
As an interface control technician, Martinez ensures all equipment and software is up-to-date while providing surveillance and link connectivity to aircraft. She directly supports Tyndall’s mission to project unrivaled combat air power by supporting the Weapons Systems Evaluation Program and live fire missile missions.
Although enlisting provided stability, benefits and support for Martinez’s family, it also came with a unique set of challenges.
“In the beginning it was difficult to navigate speaking English, I learned English in school but I didn’t practice it much,” explained Martinez. “In basic military training, I had my instructor yelling commands at me that I didn’t understand.”
The language barrier between Martinez and her peers was a daily obstacle to overcome as she had spoken Spanish all her life. Another difficult adjustment was the change from being a military wife to an Airman.
“When I was a spouse, I was at home taking care of my son by myself,” said Martinez. “I was in charge of the money, my son, the household, it was a lot to manage while trying to keep in contact with my husband, who deployed a lot.”
Now, Martinez has all of the same responsibilities as a mother with additional responsibilities as an Airman.
“I had been around service members for a while, but I didn’t understand how different my view of things would change by doing it myself,” said Martinez. “As a mother, you know your child comes first. As an Airman, the mission has to come first. It was tough being away from my son during training but he was my motivation through it.”
Managing doctors’ appointments, school events, and work is made easy because of her leadership’s willingness to adapt to Martinez’s son’s needs.
“I was worried I would struggle taking care of my son,” said Martinez. “Now not only do I have stability, I have a new family. My squadron is understanding, they ask about my son and I know they truly care. I’m glad we had our financial struggles early in life so we can appreciate all we have today.”