PHOENIX (Jan. 13, 2016) — Soldiers are familiar with the emotions that come with a deployment. They put their lives on hold, which includes Family, jobs and school, to serve. Some will do this multiple times in their career. Spc. Raul Sanchez, a financial disbursing technician with the 159th Finance Detachment, has deployed three times in nine years. Although his last deployment interrupted his studies at the Arizona Culinary Institute, or ACI, it was the support from the school that allowed him to return home and quickly finish his degree.
Sanchez says ACI’s veteran-friendly environment is what helped him succeed.
“ACI helped me come back from deployment and graduate within a couple months,” Sanchez said. “I am now working in my chosen profession.”
The Arizona Department of Veteran Services certifies the school as a veteran-supportive campus. One of the requirements to maintain this certification is to continue training through the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, or ACMF, on how to best understand military culture and support veteran students.
“The designation of [being a] veteran supportive campus is very important to our service members. It tells them that the school is doing everything to care and support our veterans, service members and their Families,” said Mario Aguirre, employment outreach coordinator with ACMF.
Sanchez said he cannot express how much ACI goes above and beyond for veterans.
“They are constantly seeking improvement from students, faculty and other veteran supportive organizations to better support veterans,” Sanchez said.
During his second tour in Afghanistan, Sanchez began to investigate a career in the culinary arts because he observed similarities in military and culinary life.
“I want to travel, and a career as a chef allows me to move anywhere in the world – just like a career in the military,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said a lot of the skills he used on deployment can be used in the kitchen such as staying calm under pressure.
“Over the years I found out that cooking makes me happy,” Sanchez said. “Most people find comfort in eating, I find healing in cooking food for others to eat.”
Sanchez loved cooking so much that he went on to earn an associates in culinary arts. In appreciation for ACI, Sanchez nominated them for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot award.