After finishing college, Gomez was concerned about his inability to speak English fluently and didn’t immediately join the military. He visited his sister in the summer, in Wisconsin, getting a job as a lifeguard at a waterpark, which didn’t require much English. After two months, the thought of staying there instead of joining the military became unbearable.
“I go to Puerto Rico and I am going to take the ASVAB and I am going to join the military and that’s it,” Gomez told his mother as she asked why he wanted to leave Wisconsin.
“The next week I have the ASVAB. I pass the ASVAB with 68,” Gomez said. “They were like, ‘hey, you have a good score.’”
Gomez was excited about the real possibility of joining the Coast Guard, which had the most stringent ASVAB requirement. All the Coast Guard recruiters in Puerto Rico were from the island and they all spoke Spanish, making it really easy for Gomez to sign up and get advice. They told him that he would be all right with the amount of English he spoke.
Gomez waited for the earliest date to leave, counted down the days and shipped off to boot camp; leaving his wife, Ashley, and parents for a short time, planning to unite with them upon graduation. There was one problem though, he didn’t really speak fluent English upon landing at boot camp’s front door. He expected to be yelled at and for boot camp to be physically hard, but he didn’t realize how hard it would be, not understanding why he was being yelled at and being unable to perform all of the tasks required of him on the spot, minute by minute, second by second.
“Mom, I want to quit,” Seaman Recruit Gomez recalled telling his mother in letters. “It’s not difficult, like all the things we have to do; it’s too difficult because I do not understand.”