Retired Commander Martha J. Suarez, Nurse Corps, U.S. Navy Reserve
Martha served 25 years of active duty, reserve, and individual ready reserve service with the United States Navy.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, Martha joined the Navy Nurse Corps, spending her first four years as a certified emergency nurse at the Marine Corps Base at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif. Working in the emergency department on a training base for marines presented many unique treatment situations, such as helicopter crashes, amphibious vehicle accidents, rifle range incidents, and acute illness and injuries related to active duty personnel and their family members.
Martha was promoted from ensign to lieutenant by the time she transferred to Naval Hospital San Diego’s emergency department, her second duty station. Martha also represented the Navy at inter-service tennis tournaments held annually for the armed services. Because she loved running, she was chosen to represent the hospital in many running competitions.
Her third duty station, her favorite, was Naval Air Station Sigonella, in Sicily, Italy. In addition to accompanying patients by MEDEVAC to the Navy Hospital in either Naples, Italy, or Landstuhl, Germany, Martha worked at the clinic, was head of the education and training department, was a public affairs officer, and started her own health promotion newspaper column and local TV spot. She was honored to play tennis with Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, and jog with his wife while they were on a four-hour refueling stop. During her two and a half years in Sicily, Martha was the only female to participate in two trans-European bicycle/running relays, raising money for the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.
After her Sigonella tour, Martha left the military. Over the next 10 years, Martha, as a civil servant, worked as an occupational nurse for the Department of the Navy in San Diego. In 2001, she was sworn back into the Naval Reserves, and in 2003, she was recalled back to active duty and was promoted to lieutenant commander (LCDR). In 2005, she accepted a voluntary recall to serve as an operational support officer.
One month after her recall, Martha’s son was killed in Texas while serving on active duty for the Navy. At that time, Martha, her husband, and three of their sons were serving on active duty. Through this tragedy, Martha volunteered with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) and CACO (Casualty Assistance Care Officers).
After being promoted to commander in 2010, she retired and was selected for a Navy scholarship as a federal civilian employee to obtain a master’s degree as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at the University of San Diego. After graduation, she returned to Camp Pendleton in the outpatient psychiatry clinic. From 2015 to 2018, she worked at Veterans Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., in the Homeless Outreach Program.
Martha and her husband, Jose, moved to SaddleBrooke Ranch in 2019. They enjoy the active community vibes, and Martha loves to play competitive pickleball.