CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – “Being the first person in your family to experience a new culture and to explore a new lifestyle within the military can be an exciting challenge,” said first generation American-Ecuadorian U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Desirae Williams.

Hispanic Heritage Month highlights the contributions Hispanics give to our nation and Army while integrating their culture values with the Army values. Williams, 30, continues to find ways to connect her heritage with her goals within the Army.

“When I told my mom I was reenlisting for indefinite she got very emotional,” said Williams. “She told me ‘we have come a long way from coming to this country and not being able to speak English. Now, you will be able to retire before you are 40 years old.’ I’m not only providing a service to my country, but I’m showing all families there are different ways to go about life, even if it’s just four years in the Army or 20.”

Williams, Ammunitions Specialist with Division Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division, enlisted at the age of 17 while also being the first person in her family to serve in the military.

Williams’ ambition allowed to make the life changing decision of joining the military, but the choice did not come without its challenges. She had to find within herself the courage to overcome the fear of the unknown because she was the first person in her family to explore a career in the military.

“I had to convince my mother that the Army would give me access to financial stability, medical care, and access to education,” said Williams. “After my explanation, my mother was more comfortable with me joining.”

Throughout her service, Williams has found ways to stay motivated and to strive for greatness whenever she got the opportunity.

“I gained a lot of knowledge about my job from my first duty station at Ft. Hood, where I was assigned to an ammo company,” said Williams. “Now I want to use that knowledge to help my Soldiers and grow as a noncommissioned officer.”

Williams wants to continue to stay in the ammunitions field after she retires from the Army and obtain her bachelor’s degree in interior design.

“One of the best ways to grow as a person is to take care of yourself, and I did that by joining the Army,” said Williams. “I travelled the world and met so many people while serving. I found one of my passions in life, so my advice to someone seeking direction is to consider all your options because there is a wide world available to you.”

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This piece is written by Sgt. Evan Cooper from the 2nd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade. Want to feature your story? Reach out to us at [email protected]