Marta Antonia Rivera Diaz

marta antonia rivera diaz

Branch: Army

Duty Station: Fort-Hood

Number of Deployments: 3

Number of PCS's: 8

About the nominee: I'm am a life-long military family member. After growing up as an Air Force brat, I became the wife of an amazing AMEDD Soldier. Unfortunately for my career, that happened shortly after graduating from culinary school. Unable to live with being unemployed for long periods of time, I tried to make the most out of our transient lifestyle and sought careers that would transfer well- I even joined the Army! Unfortunately, my knees didn't agree with running or boots, and as a result, I was honorably discharged. But I was able to take with me the customs, courtesies, and knowledge that a Soldier learns in Basic Combat Training. I decided to use that knowledge to better serve the spouses and Soldiers I would encounter along my journey as an Army wife. I began volunteering with the Army while we were stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany. I worked alongside my husband as the youth pastor for a group of high schoolers. Working with those amazing teenagers, whom I have had the pleasure of watching turn into fantastic adults, prepared me for motherhood in a way. Later, I began to work closely with the Protestant Women of the Chapel fellowship while stationed in Fort Bliss, in El Paso, TX. As the 2nd VP in charge of Programs, I was in my element! Hosting and creating was the perfect way for me to minister to my fellow military wives. During our assignment, my mother (a veteran who served 24 years in the Air Force) came to live with us as her battle with Multiple Sclerosis had caused her to become a paraplegic. It was as my mother's voice that I discovered the pangs many veterans are facing when seeking VA treatment and care. I became a staunch advocate for veteran's care and rights because of my time with my mother. Two years after my mother became our dependent, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, too. I decided that my culinary career should no longer be put on hold. I began writing my first cookbook- a collection of international recipes from my years of travel. It was published in 2016- right after my husband redeployed from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. That same year I embarked on my latest culinary adventure. My "Online Culinary School", a food blog called Sense & Edibility. I'm extremely proud of our 12-year-old twins whom I homeschool. I'm proud that they are not only resilient like most military children, but that they're amazing human beings, as well. Both of our children are scouts in Trail Life and American Heritage Girls. I enjoy volunteering as a leader in my daughter's troop as their Troop Treasurer. As I look at my life as a military spouse, my greatest accomplishment is leaving people better than I found them. As the FRG leader for my husband's unit, Bravo Co, 21st Combat Support Hospital , 1st Medical Brigade; I take pride in creating a family-like relationship amongst our Soldiers and family members. I always say we have the best unit in the Army, and I truly believe that. Sometimes, being a leader means breaking hard truths to spouses, at other times it means walking through tragedy with them. Above all, my goal has been to blur the lines between where the unit ends and the family begins. I believe that when we do life together, authentically, the mission, the morale and the triumphs are successful and enjoyable. My joy is knowing, in their hearts, spouses and Soldiers don't consider me "Ma'am", they consider me, Marta, their friend.

Hobbies: Anything involving food, dancing, and traveling.

Interesting Facts: Unlike the majority of the military spouses who have Military Medical Records Folders which begin shortly after they were married; mine begins with my birth certificate.

What is something you’ve learned from being a military spouse? No one can relate to pretension. The ideal way to build people up to the best version of themselves is to be real, be approachable, and be genuine. That will then inspire them to do the same.

In your opinion, what is one of the most important issues facing military families? The increasing OPTEMPO comes at a time in our society where spouses are looking to pursue their careers in spite of their daily unknowns. However, in spite of wanting to better themselves, whether personally or professionally, spouses are still looked down upon and ridiculed in a way that makes them want to isolate themselves from their service member's unit family. This isolation leads to an increased level of stress, depression and marital conflict which then compromises the Soldier and, in turn, the mission. There needs to be a bridge between the spouse and the service that encourages their participation, and the use of their gifts, in a genuine and respectful way. I believe this is the way to build morale, facilitate programs that benefit families, and restore the camaraderie that once existed amongst the military as a whole.

What is one of the best aspects of being in a military family? We are afforded the opportunity to meet and love individuals from all over the world. We pray for our service member's lives together, we cry tears of joy and pain together, and we do life together. The rest of the country can benefit from experiencing the life we live.

What is one thing you want to accomplish with the Military Spouse of the Year title? I want to encourage spouses to pursue goals which they MAY think are unattainable, or have to be put on hold, because they are supporting their warfighter. My goal is to encourage spouses to drown out the white noise of criticism which is designed to make them feel inadequate, and motivate them to not only use their gifts to change their lives, but also to change their duty stations and the units they call home. I want to give a fresh perspective to service members who have preconceived notions about military spouses. I want to challenge them to see spouses for who they really are, or who they can be- team members in the same fight.

Reasons for nominating:

It is impossible to meet Marta without being forever changed and inspired by her. She has a zeal for living a life unlike any other and she has not allowed the many moves and deployments offered as a wife of a Soldier, or unexpected twists in life, divert her from her dreams. She grew up in a military home, began making name for herself in culinary school and married her Soldier. Nearly 19 years later, she has carved out a niche as a pastry chef, food blogger, and photographer and has published her own cookbook. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Marta's impact in the military community is impossible to understate - at each duty station she has made a name for herself as a servant-leader. She has served in numerous FRG leadership roles, lead women's ministry groups with PWOC and facilitated homeschool co-ops for her twins, among other activities. She currently is serving as an FRG leader for her husband's unit, which just returned from a deployment. She also leads an American Heritage Girls Troop. Marta has been living with Multiple Sclerosis for just under 10 years. She has faced this illness with courage and faith through her mother's diagnosis, then her own diagnosis. When the illness became too much for her mother, Luisa, to live independently, Marta became her primary caregiver until Luisa passed away quietly at home with her family in hospice care many cherished years later. Marta remains dedicated to her family, her Soldier, her culinary craft, her husband's soldiers/families and her friends. If anyone embodies the spirit of an enterprising, dedicated, hard-working and triumphant Military Spouse, it is Marta. -- Jennifer Herbek, Fellow Military Spouse