JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
A chance for a better future and to serve their country are the reasons Mark and Pearl Alvarado, a married couple from San Antonio, made the decision to join the military together.
The couple enlisted in the Navy together in January, just five months after they got married in August 2018. Both of them graduated from basic training and are undergoing their technical training at different locations; Seaman Mark Alvarado at Pensacola, Florida, and Seaman Recruit Pearl Alvarado in the Hospital Corpsman Basic program at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
Both of them knew the decision to join the Navy together as a married couple would come with its challenges, including the possibility they would be serving far apart at different duty stations. But despite that, the young couple believes their decision to join the service will pay off in the long run.
“We believe in our relationship and that we can get through anything,” said 19-year-old Seaman Mark Alvarado. “That’s really the motivation. I tell her when we write, after all this separation thing, it’s going to be worth it. I know we can overcome this obstacle.”
Seaman Recruit Pearl Alvarado, 18, said it’s been weird not seeing her husband, who she has known since eighth grade, every day. But she is remaining positive and is motivated by a desire to succeed.
“I just try to remember, this needs to work,” she said. “Failure is not an option. Just seeing my name taped in the mirror every day, it gets me going because it’s his (Seaman Alvarado’s) last name and our last name. I just want to make his family proud and make my family proud.”
After graduating together from Southside High School in San Antonio last year, the couple was looking at their future plans.
Seaman Alvarado, who earned his associate’s degree through an early college program while in high school, had considered the military but was planning on going to college at first. Seaman Recruit Alvarado was set on joining the service, something she had considered throughout high school.
Seaman Recruit Alvarado brought up the idea to her husband of both of them going into the service together.
“It was my initial idea because we didn’t have anything to do,” she said. “So I brought it up to him and he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I always liked it because of the traveling aspect and learning a trade to help people in general for our country. My husband said he would just join me. I didn’t make him. I said, ‘I’m going to do it and you can come with me if you want.’”
The process which led to the couple enlisting in the Navy together started in November 2018 when Seaman Recruit Alvarado visited Petty Officer 1st Class Rene Sanchez, Navy Recruiting District San Antonio recruiter.
Sanchez said during his meeting with Seaman Recruit Alvarado she mentioned that her husband was considering joining the service.
“I told her if he is interested, to bring him in and we can put him in the Navy, too,” Sanchez said.
The next time Seaman Recruit Alvarado came in to see Sanchez she brought Seaman Alvarado.
“He (Seaman Alvarado) started asking questions and he wound up joining,” Sanchez said.
Seaman Alvarado said when looking at the military as a career option, he had considered the Army. But after he talked to Sanchez he made up his mind to join the Navy because of the benefits it provide and the possibility the Navy will try to station him and his wife in the same general area while they are serving.
Sanchez said as a military recruiter, signing up the Alvarados was a different experience for him as they are the first married couple he has recruited that joined the service together.
“It’s not every day a couple comes in and joins the military together,” he said.
The Alvarados started their basic training in the spring at Recruit Training Command at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, but on different dates. Seaman Recruit Alvarado was the first one to ship out in February, completing boot camp in early April. Seaman Alvarado left for basic training March 25, graduating in late May.
They were in basic training at the same time for at least 10 days. Seaman Recruit Alvarado said she saw her husband once during that time, a chance encounter when they passed each other on the street at the base the day before she graduated from boot camp.
As he goes through his technical training, Seaman Alvarado is hoping he can be trained to become a master-at-arms, who are responsible for law enforcement and force protection the Navy. He said being a master-at-arms would enable him to have the skills and training to become a law enforcement officer should he decide to pursue that after his military service.
Other future plans Seaman Alvarado is considering is continuing his college education to earn a bachelor’s degree and going to officer’s school.
She is expected to graduate from the Hospital Corpsman Basic program at METC Aug. 1
Seaman Recruit Alvarado said her long term goal is to become a social worker, but that she is open to staying in the Navy as long as she can.
“The medical field, I’ve always wanted to do it,” she said. “So if I love what I do, I just might stay.”
Seaman Recruit Alvarado said she and her husband have continued to stay in touch with each other, despite the distance between them as they undergo their training. While they were in boot camp, they called each other when they were allowed to. In addition, Seaman Recruit Alvarado wrote two letters a day to her husband while he was in basic training.
Seaman Alvarado said he is happy with the decision he and his wife made to go into the service together.
“Honestly, it makes me proud because I know it’s going to better our future,” he said. “It’s a story we can tell. It will help us in the long run.”