Katherine Martinez

Served in the Navy
from 2015 – 2019

When were you drafted or when did you enlist?

 I signed July 2015 and would ship out November 25, 2015.


Why did you choose your branch of service?

I have always been comfortable around water so felt that was the logical choice for me; but hearing the experiences of my Senior Naval Science Instructor and many Veterans from the VFW reinforced my decision to enlist in the Navy.


What do you remember about that day?

I remember being excited but nervous that I'm finally getting my chance to answer the call to serve.


Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?

I did Color Guard at every Command but while I was going to "A" school at FASW in San Diego, CA; I got to Present the Colors at the 241st birthday. I got to meet Pearl Harbor Survivor Chief Stu Hedley and cut the cake as the youngest Sailor alongside the Command Chaplain at TSC San Diego.


Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?

It showed me the impacts on humanity. How much service members sacrifice in order to preserve our freedom. Missing the birth of their children, graduations, funerals; and the tolls war, service and missing life events impacts their mental and physical health.


Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?

My best friends in service were STG2 Wade and STG2 Sookwah and we still keep in touch til this day!


Remembering the Fallen: If they are no longer with us, please share a small way in which you remember them or keep their spirit alive– whether that be a funny story, a heroic moment, or something different that might seem trivial to others, but holds importance to you.

STGCS Sue Eisinger was my mentor that died by suicide in January 2017. She believed in me and her loss was devastating to me and those who knew her. Since her passing I've dedicated my time in educating and raising awareness to suicide prevention, mental health accessibility, and the importance of meeting people where they are so we can better serve them. Through various projects her memory is every lasting as she was the mom a friend, the one you could always go to and was always your biggest fan so attempt to carry that on in my own dealings.


What were the first few months out of the service like?

Stressful I had no clue what I was doing but feared failure so did everything and all I could to avoid it.


Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?

Please reach out to a Veteran Service Organization. Student Veterans of America changed my life. They gave me purpose, a family, and gave me a community that understood what I was going through by provided me with resources and knowledge to get me through college and connect me with other organizations to keep doing what I love which is helping others.


If you hadn’t gone into the service, what do you imagine your career life would have been? Did you explore a different career after service?

I do not think I'd be anywhere in the same space I am now. I wanted to working in the business industry before hand. Now I'm headed in a career pathway where I can continue advocating and serving the military affiliated community to include service members, veterans, reservists, retirees, and their families.


Please add any additional stories or meaningful memories that you’d like to share.

To this day 6 people from my division on the ship I served on, DDG-81, still talk on a daily basis. Whether it's a "meme" or quick check in we communicate often and support each other in all our endeavors. The Navy gave me a lot but this group is my family that I can count on and hope more people reach out to their own battle buddies a just for a quick check in once in awhile as it can mean a world of difference.