Approximately five years ago, Ellen Jimenez attended a meeting in Tucson, Ariz. that changed both her perspective of and involvement with the U.S. armed forces.
The Military Affairs Committee of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon for the community and the featured guest speaker was the captain of a U.S. Navy submarine, the USS Tucson.
“I knew nothing more about the military than what the media had shared with us, which is not what you guys are really about,” said Jimenez. “The speaker really touched me. I just started crying when I heard the stories about what service members go through during their deployments and when they are at home away from their families and having to build families within your service. It really touched me. I was hooked, and I wanted more.”
Jimenez received her wish. She became a part of the MAC. She initially started out as a member, but has served as the chairman for almost three years now.
The MAC’s mission is to build and maintain bridges of understanding and cooperation between military and civilian communities within Tucson and southern Arizona. They support all armed services here to include the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and their Guard and Reserve components.
Jimenez’s involvement with D-M has gone beyond that of the chairman. She also serves as the honorary commander for the 612th Air Communications Squadron here.
“Probably the highlight is that I got to go to a commander’s call,” Jimenez said. “There were some award presentations given that morning, and I was asked to help present them. I had no idea what I was doing. It was fun! It was great to be able to stand there next to these folks that have done some amazing things that I couldn’t even fathom. It was huge for me.”
Jimenez has had different experiences resulting from her roles as the chairman.
“The MAC is great because I get to know the leadership of the base,” Jimenez said. “With the 612th ACOMS, I get to know the guys on a more in-depth level.”
Jimenez says she enjoys being able to socialize with Airmen and their families more. She has been invited to promotions, retirements, farewells and even dinners.
“I go out to dinner with the spouses of the 612th ACOMS every month,” Jimenez said. “ We talk about ways to support the squadron and better support families in our community.”
Jimenez has also introduced service members to her family. She has brought her son, Logan, on base to meet some of the Airmen to see what they do. Furthermore, she also encouraged her son and his class to participate in morale-building events.
“I go to my son’s school every year and ask them to fill out poster boards and cards,” Jimenez said. “I’ll have my son represent the school and hand the cards out to the service members. It’s cool to show them what the Tucson community thinks of them from a teenager’s perspective.”
Jimenez attributes the motivation behind her desire to support military members to the members themselves.
“What I’ve learned from all of this is that we have a responsibility to be a part of our community,” Jimenez said. “What you guys have taught me, how involved you are. You are out there volunteering at homeless shelters, hospitals and camps. Where you guys get the time to do this, I have no idea. You have your jobs here, your families here, your home families, your kids and still you are giving up your time to volunteer in a community you don’t even really know. It’s very impressive and very inspiring.”