Latina soldier returns home to Texas with new mission: “I know I can help veterans”

Selflessness is in a solider’s job description, but even after three deployments, Sgt. Monica DeLeon believes her service has only just begun.

“I’m not a hero. I just do what my heart tells me to do,” DeLeon said.

DeLeon was honored alongside other 2013 Red Cross champions during the 6th annual Champion’s Breakfast on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

The mother of three has served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, so she has plenty of experience dealing with stress, trauma and loss.

“Who better to help me cope with loss and post traumatic stress and anxiety issues, and transitioning back into civilian life, than a veteran who has done it,” DeLeon said.

DeLeon knows firsthand the trauma that comes from war.

DeLeon said, “I see it. I see the struggle. I see my friends struggle. I see so many people I was close to on active duty struggle. And it hurts me. It pains me to see that struggle.”

That’s why DeLeon is currently majoring in Human Sciences at Texas Tech. She wants to counsel her comrades and help them heal.

DLeon said, “Soldiers don’t like to admit they have it. They don’t like to seek counseling for it. And I want to be one of those individuals who says, hey it’s all right.”

DeLeon herself suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after working in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and watching her fellow soldiers fall.

“Whether it’s war itself, or not bringing back a best friend – just being so far away from home. Every experience is different,” DeLeon said.

As a solider who has already given so much, DeLeon hopes to continue serving and asks nothing in return.

“I don’t doubt myself at all. I know I can help veterans. There’s no doubt in my mind,” Deleon said.

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