Face of Defense: Petty Officer Reaches for Stars
By Marine Corps Cpl. Bruno J. Bego
2nd Marine Logistics Group
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., March 12, 2012 Many people grow up with the dream of joining the military to improve themselves. For Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason F. Figgeroa, a hospital corpsman with Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, the military was his ticket to a better life.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason F. Figgeroa, a hospital corpsman at Camp Lejeune, N.C., is preparing to start Officer Candidate School. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Bruno J. Bego
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“I wanted to get out of Hawaii,” the Waipahu native said. “Times got rough, and I was going through some family issues, so it was time for me to go.”
When Figgeroa joined the Navy in 2007, his main focus was to take advantage of the tuition assistance program to get his bachelor’s degree in political science.
“My driving force was education,” he said. “I was focused on getting my bachelor’s degree in order to improve my lifestyle.”
As his desire for education and his passion for serving his country increased rapidly over time, he said, he decided to make the military a life-long profession and to pursue a commission in the Navy.
“Initially, I didn’t join to become an officer,” he said. “After growing and maturing, I started to think becoming an officer is the best route for me.” His wish to expand his prospects and enrich his life required him to take seven or eight classes per semester for two-and-a-half years.
“It was brutal,” he said. “I was definitely stressed out, because besides the college classes, I still had to maintain my military commitments.”
He also had to pay for whatever tuition assistance didn’t cover as he pursued his dream. “It was well worth it,” he said, “because I really want to become an officer.”
And he wasn’t alone in his struggles, Figgeroa said. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Florian C. Rio, the medical battalion’s command master chief, shared his wisdom with Figgeroa from the beginning.
“I do not discriminate,” Rio said. “I mentor everybody equally and provide them with the chances to improve themselves. Now, if there is somebody who is really interested in becoming an officer, like Figgeroa, I talk to that person, and I explain the process. I show them which direction they need to go to accomplish their dream.”
Rio said Figgeroa’s initiative and persistence impressed him from the beginning.
“That’s one of the things I saw about him. He is a go-getter,” Rio added. “He saw the opportunity there, and he went for it. He achieved his goal of getting his bachelor’s degree.”
Figgeroa is preparing to attend his Officer Candidate School class, which begins April 15. And he already has new goals in sight.
“I want a star. I want to be an admiral one day,” he said. “I also want to work at the Pentagon. I just want to have the privilege to step foot into the Pentagon as a staff member.”
Figgeroa’s said his quest not only has helped himself, but also has inspired his fellow sailors and Marines.
“I love the fact I can help and encourage other people to improve,” he said. “I love the Navy. I think joining the military is the best decision I’ve made, and I will continue to do my best to help others.”