Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Amanda Norcross
Personally donate and deliver essential supplies to members of local communities in critical need, check.
Participate in a toy drive to bring happiness and hope to children in the midst of a crisis, check.
Facilitate the evacuation of 114 Coast Guard dependents to ensure members peace of mind, check.
These are but a small sample of what Petty Officer 2nd Class Rita Martinez did while on deployment to Puerto Rico as part of Hurricane Maria disaster relief and only a couple bullets on the ever-increasing list of positive impacts this Coast Guard Base Seattle yeoman has had.
It should be no surprise that in a symposium held on Sept. 6, 2018, in Arlington, Virginia, Martinez was honored as a recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Military Service Award. Along with 15 fellow service members and Department of Defense employees, Martinez was selected as a recipient for distinguishing herself as a leader, mentor, advocate of diversity and integration of Latina women in the armed forces, and earning the respect of her superiors, peers and community leaders.
“Petty Officer Martinez truly lives the motto, ‘service to others,’” said Chief Warrant Officer Kurt Kolar, chief of the Personnel Services Division at Base Seattle. “As a yeoman in the Base Seattle administration office, she helps her shipmates every single day with pay, travel, passport issuance and a myriad of other human resource-related subjects. Her competence and communication style reassure her customers and they know they are receiving the best support possible.”
In addition to her outstanding work ethics and eagerness to assist her shipmates, Martinez pursues additional roles at her unit.
She served as a representative for a Coast Guard-focused nonprofit where she facilitated the assistance of 13 Coast Guard families in need, took on the role of project officer for the renovation of the command conference room, organized two blood drives that resulted in enough pints collected to benefit upwards of 297 Seattle-area patients.
She also serves as the logistic coordinator for conferences held at base, and is a member of the base morale and district Coast Guard ball committees.
Her extraordinary efforts continue off base.
She served almost 60 hours as a Spanish translator for a local food bank so that they could provide help to members of the Hispanic population who struggle with poverty and food insecurity. She spent 170 hours with a Pacific Northwest-based volunteer group that works to expedite relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Maria.
She also helped develop leadership, communication, teamwork and problem solving skills for 30 children, who speak English as a second language, as part of the Partnership in Education program at Hawthorne Elementary School. She highlighted the importance of protecting the environment by providing information on the Coho Salmon during a STEM event held at Olympic View Elementary.
“When she’s not volunteering to support her community, she regularly treats her office mates with delicious homemade Puerto Rican cuisine and desserts,” said Kolar. “She gives of her time with no expectation of reciprocity and is an inspirational example to others.”
It would take pages upon pages to detail all of Martinez’s outstanding endeavors, but there is no question that regardless of where she is, she makes a positive impact and her efforts will continue to improve her local communities and the Coast Guard as a whole.