Staff Sgt. Gladys Montelongo was a single mom raising three children and managing a Subway restaurant when she decided to change career paths and join the Idaho Army National Guard in 2009.
“I felt I had more to offer and wanted to be a positive role model for my kids,” she said. “I knew joining the Guard would open up opportunities for my family and career.”
Montelongo has since used her military tuition assistance to earn a bachelor’s degree in general studies and is currently working toward a master’s degree in legal studies. She recently applied to law school and plans to use her Montgomery GI Bill to pay the way if accepted.
She has received approximately $55,000 in enlistment and reenlistment bonuses as a 92G Culinary Specialist and in 2011, after returning home from a deployment to Iraq, purchased her first home using a VA home loan.
“I never imagined having the means to buy a house or earn a degree,” she said. “The money and opportunities are there through the Guard and I’ve taken advantage of them all.”
As a culinary sergeant, Montelongo oversees and supervises the preparation and service of large scale meals to Soldiers in training and on missions. She finds the job rewarding and takes pride to elevate military recipes using her expertise and various special ingredients such as bacon and rubs made from scratch.
“Soldiers look forward to seeing us and getting a hot meal when training hard in the field,” she said. “It’s a nice feeling to know we get to provide that to them, so I make to always make quality meals.”
When not in uniform, Montelongo works for Wells Fargo and enjoys cooking for her family, including oldest son Spc. Camilo Sanchez, husband Sgt. 1st Class Juan Montelongo, and brother Sgt. 1st Class Charles Glenn, who all serve within the Idaho Army National Guard.