How a mother joined the US army at 35.
I am SPC Roxanne Abuyabor – Dajao, originally from Iligan City, Philippines, recently naturalized US citizen serving in the US Army as a 9IS Stryker Systems Maintainer in a Field Support team of an Infantry unit team here in Fort hood Texas.
We arrived in the USA in March 2018. I am a wife, mother of two boys and BSN RN with 12 years of experience before joining the army.
Roxanne is close to our heart and family. We really got to know each other when we were both living and working in Singapore. She was a nurse back then while her husband was a seafarer. We knew about their family's plan to migrate to the US to be together but what we did not know was her plan of joining the US Army.
How long have you been doing this and how did you get into this line of work?
I have completed 2 years in service this month, March 2021. Growing up, I have always wished to be a soldier since my father was in the Philippines army. When we got here in the US, applying for a driver’s license was one of the first things you need to do. Whether it was just a coincidence or it was meant to be – there beside the driver’s license office was the Army Recruiting office. My dreams flashed back and I got really interested so I inquired. I never thought I still have a shot at it at 35.
Working in the US Army, is it part of your own unresolved childhood ambition? I can imagine it can be quite challenging to work and help and give to others every day. How do you take care of yourself?
It was something I really wanted to do since I was young but it was not a thing in the Philippines especially for women. Instead I decided to study nursing.
Yes, it was very challenging since I was already 35 when I joined. I was surrounded by 18 to 25 year old soldiers. I had to keep up and remind myself of “WHY” I was doing it.
In your journey, any particular people or moments that really stood out to you and were sort of turning points?
My family – my parents, husband and kids. My father always believed that I have the potential. When I asked him about joining the US army, his approval made a huge difference.
My kids think it is the coolest job in the world. While my mother and my husband were worried and scared for my safety, I know they love me so much and will always support me.
What do you do for yourself now? As a mother, what do you do to motivate yourself to leave home and go a mission?
My “me time” right now is actually taking care of my houseplants. That’s when I can pause my busy and challenging work day. Its my time to appreciate the blessings despite the challenges that come our way.
As a mother, thinking about my responsibilities at home and the bills to pay motivates me to leave for work and do the mission.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the training you have undergone and what it helped you survive and overcome the challenges?
Looking back at my training days, I honestly can’t believe why I did it. It wasn’t easy at all. I was hurt physically and emotionally. You get yelled for other trainees’ crazy behaviors and you get punished as well. I can’t remember how many buckets of tears I cried while on training.
What helped me survived was looking forward to my graduation day because I know I would finally see my husband and my two boys. It was a mind over matter game. The longest days of my life that I had to count one meal at a time to help me forget about the days ahead. I’ve always looked forward to dinner because I knew the day was almost finished and I was a day closer to my graduation.
I was also inspired by my co-trainees who looked up to me because I was the oldest female in the team and I can still do the challenges even if I was injured. So it pushed them to do better. I told them, I refused to quit and fail.
What would alternative universe Roxanne be doing?
The alternative Roxanne will be doing the same but in a better route. A nurse officer in the US Army or US Navy or the Air force.
What brings you joy in life?
Knowing that my family is happy and healthy.