MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — It’s 6 A.M., the house is completely lit-- large boots thump and tiny bare feet patter quickly across the floor. The Cruz family of four is wide awake whipping up breakfast, preparing lunch and scrambling to get everyone out the door for work and school.
Then-U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Cruz heads off for another busy day as a 6th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical service technician while his wife, Chelsea, departs to take their children to school and start her own work day.
Once the work day ends, the sun sets and other families are finally recuperating. The Cruz family embarks on what is nearly another full shift – cook dinner, bathe the kids, help their 10-year old, Connor, with homework then begin their own school work, exams and studying.
The grind is tough when a lifelong dream awaits on the horizon. However, the Cruz family proved it possible to get there.
After working various jobs without finding career satisfaction, in October 2012 the Palmetto, Florida native, enlisted.
“I enlisted in hopes of discovering who I was as a person, who I really wanted to be and what I wanted to do for the rest of my working career,” said Cruz. “My goal was to make the best life that I could for myself and my family.”
While working full time at MacDill, Cruz earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health. He pushed his education further by earning a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in healthcare management.
“Lt. Cruz has an incredible work ethic, no task is too small or too big for him to eagerly lead or participate,” said Lt. Col. Neva VanDerSchagen, 412th Medical Support Squadron commander.
After excelling in his master’s coursework, Cruz earned a direct commission as a medical service corps officer. MSC officers are professional healthcare administrators and executives who play a critical role leading and managing one of the nation’s largest, most diverse healthcare systems.
“I have many interests in life and have never been fond of sticking with one thing, as I love change and to learn new things,” said now-1st Lt. Brandon Cruz, 6th MOS medical service corps officer. “I have enjoyed being a medic and being hands on with patients thus far, but with a passion for business I could not have chosen a more suitable career field as MSC.”
Cruz and his wife proved they are stronger together — Chelsea simultaneously achieved her Doctoral Degree in Nursing and commissions as a captain this September.
“My family has been the largest support group by far,” Cruz explained. “My children Connor and Madelyn (age 3) were great through all the long weekends of staying inside while Dad and Mom finished homework. It was a continuous effort to balance work, school and family life but we managed and in the end succeeded.”
Cruz and his wife will attend Commissioned Officer Training at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama August 13, 2018 and head to their first duty assignment as officers at Peterson AFB, Colorado upon graduation.
“I have no doubt that he will make an excellent officer,” said VanDerSchagen. “He has a remarkable talent of knowing when to use his followership, leadership and team building skills for the betterment of his coworkers and the Air Force Medical Service mission.”
“My future goals are to continue to grow as an Airman, as a husband and a father,” said Cruz. “I never want to stop learning and improving and I am excited to see where and what the Air Force has in store for my family and me.”