Born in Del Rio and raised in El Paso, Jennifer Rubio joined the military as soon as she graduated high school.
“I graduated in ‘92 and didn’t have any plans after that so I joined the Navy. Actually, I wanted to join the Marines first. My sister was in the Marines and I wanted to join and kind of be with her, but she told me ‘you can be a Corpsman in the Navy and still be with the Marines’ so that’s what I did,” Rubio said.
After first serving in Corpus Christi then in Hawaii for three years, Jennifer decided to start a family. She raised three children and joined the reserves where she served for many years. Then in 2003 she was recalled to active duty and again in 2005. That’s when she met her husband to be, Juan Rubio. A Corpsman himself, they worked together in Corpus Christi and married a short time later.
Jennifer continued her duties until 2009, driving back and forth from San Angelo to El Paso. Juan is a Silver Star recipient and has two Purple Hearts. They both knew the struggle of re-adjusting to civilian life.
‘It’s been a little bit of a journey to get where we’re at. We both had issues and trying to get ourselves emotionally…I guess back in gear,” Rubio said.
During that journey, they discovered a passion; fishing and building custom rods. Then, they turned it into a nonprofit to help combat veterans, much like Juan, recover and deal with struggles like PTSD.
“It’s really been amazing to see how much the rod building has helped him. And to take it a bit further and take veterans out and introduce them to something he’s passionate about it just rubs off on them. To give something to a veteran that you actually built yourself is very personal. This is something we actually spent a lot of time on and built it ourselves and it may not be perfect but we put a lot of time and effort into it and it’s just nice to give something that you built and put a lot of thought and everything into it,” Rubio said.
Their next fishing trip is focused on females.
“We’re wanting to focus on the female combat veterans because sometimes they don’t get all the credit they deserve. Believe it or not, it’s a challenge just to be a female. I didn’t have the opportunity to go overseas and fight in combat. Later on in my career when I had a little bit of rank, it’s automatically…’oh how did you get that? What did you do to get your position?’ and I’m like because I earned it. Just being a female in the military is challenging,” Rubio said.
As for advice Jennifer would share with others like her:
“I’d tell them to strive to be the best. Don’t let being a female hold you back and to stand up for yourself,” Rubio said.
The following is Jennifer Rubio’s nomination letter:
“She has gone above and beyond call of wife, mother, and best friend. I am a 100% disable combat veteran. She sacrificed her Navy career falling short of 3 years in retirement from the Navy. She than took special classes to be a caregiver then took a state board test through the VA to be my personal caregiver to help with my PTSD Traumatic Brain Injuries and Anxiety Disorder. Every day she gets all our kids fed, dressed and out the door for school. All while getting me dressed, prepare all my medicines I have to take throughout the day and then help me remember my VA appointment. Now she her passion to help others, we have started an nonprofit organization to help reach out to other combat veterans and wives or husbands on an All experience paid weekends fishing trip to help reduce the number of veteran suicides.”