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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2020

Missouri Guardsmen honors her heritage through service

Missouri National Guard

Amelia Cruz grew up in the small town of Uvalde, Texas, named after a famous Spanish general. She says most families in Uvalde spoke English and Spanish and ate Tex-Mex foods.
“We enjoy passing down our values, and heritage to future generations,” Cruz said. “With doing so, we get the opportunity to celebrate with close family and friends by sharing our culture and traditions.”
She recalls when her grandfather and his brothers would gather around the dining room table in their house and talk about their military experiences and battle buddies. Her grandfather, Francisco Gonzales, and his brothers all served during World War II.
“I might have been really young, but I was always curious about his stories. My grandfather has a lot to do with me serving in the military,” said Cruz. “I was a bit eager to create my own journey and experience in the military.”
After graduating high school, Cruz decided to move to Missouri with her sister. She was working three jobs when she happened to meet a recruiter while working as a hostess at Ryan’s Steakhouse.
“I’ve always been interested in military service and chose to enlist in the Missouri National Guard,” Cruz said. She enlisted on September 28, 2004.
Cruz knew she had a knack for customer service, so she elected to become a human resources manager. She says she enjoys assisting personnel and helping fellow service members resolve any issues they may have. 
To Cruz, there were many advantages to becoming a part-time Guard member as opposed to joining active duty. The biggest advantage was that the Guard gave Cruz the flexibility to serve while still being able to remain in her community.
Though serving in the Guard didn’t come without its challenges. Eventually Cruz deployed to Kuwait with the 935th Aviation Support Battalion. This proved to be one of the most challenging times in her military career.
“Being away from my child and managing a relationship with her at the age of six was extremely difficult,” said Cruz.
Though difficult, she says this challenge helped develop her professionally, and she looks back on it as a great experience where she learned a lot about herself and discovered what her capabilities were.
Currently Cruz works full-time with the Missouri National Guard as a civilian in human resources in Jefferson City, where she has worked for the past 13 years.
Cruz says that her military career has provided her with valuable skills and unique opportunities. Even though she is far from Uvalde, she still carries on her cultural traditions with her teenage daughter and sharing her traditions with family and friends. “I am close to the end of my military career,” said Cruz “Whether I elect to stay in, or terminate my military service, my long-term goal is to become a mentor to future military members by informing them of options within the Missouri National Guard.”