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Buitron: My ability is to help people

For Sgt. Stephanie Buitron, wanting to help others is something that’s in her blood.

“You have this opportunity to do something that is not only going to benefit our country, but with the way things are going now, it benefits other people,” Buitron said about serving in the military. “You have the opportunity to go and be of service to people. That’s my ability, is to help people, especially children. That is why I teach. This also gives me another platform to serve.”

1111 BuitronBuitron, like so many, is on active duty with the Army National Guard and returned from a nine-month stint in Afghanistan last February. She teaches career preparedness at Escambia County High School.

Buitron was deployed with the 226th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade out of Mobile. She is a military policeman and worked as a radiotelephone operator.

“I take radio calls for our unit,” she said.

Buitron graduated from ECHS in 1986 and after a year of studying at JDCC, she enlisted into the United States Marine Corps, serving as a military police officer.

It wasn’t until 2010 that she reenlisted in the military, this time with the National Guard, Buitron said.

“After I finished my time in the Marine Corps and during my time working here, in 2010, my daughter and her best friend decided they’d enlist in the National Guard,” she said. “I was talking to her recruiter and we were discussing everything. He was telling me you can reenlist. He told me I still have the opportunity to serve my country and be of help. And I enlisted.”

During her time in Afghanistan, Buitron received a battlefield promotion to her current rank of sergeant.

Buitron said her time in the Middle East was different because of her age. She celebrated her 45th birthday while deployed.

“As you get older, it’s kind of hard to adapt to certain changes,” she said. “You’re so used to having your space. That was a change, but you accept it and you move on and you do what you have to do.”

While serving overseas, Buitron said she got the opportunity to talk with United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel over the Thanksgiving holidays.

“He asked about my family, my unit, and he asked about how we were being treated as soldiers, and did we feel our command was being good to us,” she said. “I told him I had no issues, so that was great.”

Sometime later, Buitron said she received a letter from Hagel with a coin, which was special.

“I got coined by the secretary of defense,” she said. “I was so excited about it.”

Buitron comes from a military family.

Her father, Ishmael Walker Sr., is retired from the Alabama Army, National Guard and served in the 711th Signal Battalion in Atmore. Her son, Mikael, is a specialist in the Army and is stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Buitron’s brother, Christopher Walker, served in the United States Navy and is an Atmore city councilman. She said Christopher has always been a big influence in her life.

Additionally, her son in law, Quinterio Hunter, is a sergeant in the National Guard.

Buitron said Veterans Day is a special day for her because in Atmore, the military is treated with such respect.

“They do a very good job of honoring our veterans,” she said. “They make us feel appreciated for the work we’ve done.”