TriWest Veteran Employee Shares What It’s Like to Be a Military Family

Ricardo in Amarah, Iraq as the Bravo Company
1st Platoons Medic in 2009

Ricardo's family during a promotion
for his wife

Sergeant First Class
Crystal Gonzalez

November 13, 2020 – November is Military Family Appreciation Month – a time for Americans to recognize and honor the family members who have made sacrifices to support their loved ones in uniform. Being a member of a military family isn’t easy. Military families deal with the stress that often comes with moving to new places, and sometimes to another country.

The sacrifices military families make sometimes go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Often, it’s forgotten that those who support their family members in uniform make sacrifices, too.

Ricardo Gonzalez, U.S. Army Veteran and a TriWest Claims Center Call Representative, enlisted right after he graduated high school, to become a combat medic. During his training, Ricardo met his wife, Crystal, who was also training to become a combat medic. For two years, Ricardo and Crystal dated while serving in the military, and eventually decided to get married.

“The first two years of marriage was pretty difficult,” Ricardo said. “Right after we were married, I was deployed to Iraq for a year and as soon as I came home, Crystal was deployed to Iraq.”

After three years of marriage and being away from each other for most of it, Ricardo and Crystal were finally able to be stationed together in San Antonio, Texas, when they learned Crystal was pregnant.

“We were both Sergeants when we found out we were pregnant,” Ricardo said. “It was really rough because we had different schedules and we were never home together. We became worried about what would happen to our son if we both were to get deployed. So, we had a long talk, and decided that I would leave the Army to take care of our son.”

Ricardo quickly learned how to balance life with being home with their son, especially when Crystal was gone for weeks at a time for training. He grew to have a lot of respect for single parents, and learned how to “flip the switch” when it was time for him to “run the show” when Crystal was away.

“At any given moment, when it comes to serving, Crystal has to do certain things and that’s the way it is,” Ricardo said. “Being a military spouse means accepting things changing all the time, and realizing you can still serve your country without wearing the boots.”

One thing Ricardo mentioned about being a military family is the help and service that comes from other military families.

“Military families gravitate toward each other because we understand,” he said. “We help each other because who better to understand what we’re going through.”

According to Ricardo, you don’t need to be a part of a military family to help, however. If you know a military family, think of ways to help. Offer to babysit, cook a meal, or run a few errands. Even a small gesture can be a big help, and is always appreciated.

At the end of the day, Ricardo said if he could go back and do it all again, he wouldn’t change anything.

“I would do it in a heartbeat. I would reenlist if I could because if it wasn’t for the Army, Crystal and I would have never met and we would have never had our children,” Ricardo said.

Ricardo and Crystal have been married for twelve years and are currently living in Hawaii with their two children.

This month – and all year – take a moment to say thank you to military family members. Let them know they are appreciated.