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    Soccer coach to combat medic; U.S. Army Soldier’s family inspires love for sports, service

    Soccer coach to combat medic; U.S. Army Soldier’s family inspires love for sports, service

    Photo By Master Sgt. Andrew Satran | U.S. Army Pvt. Juan Rojas, combat medic assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Regiment, 2nd...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Andrew Satran 

    Federal Vaccine Response

    ATLANTA-- A Soldier’s family, geographically separated by a body of water, inspired soccer dreams and healthcare career passions that helped him live a life fulfilled.

    Currently serving at the Atlanta Community Vaccination Center, U.S. Army Private Juan Rojas, combat medic assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, said prior to emigrating to the United States and joining the military, he lived a humble life in Cuba with his family.
    Growing up in Havana, Cuba

    Rojas grew up with his parents and sister in Havana. It was commonplace to dip his Pan Cubano (Cuban bread) in hot chocolate for breakfast, something he remarked was great. Playing barefoot soccer in the street and going to school filled the days. To him, because the internet was not easily accessible, sports was a great escape.

    He recalled his mom was very strict with him when it came to school and sports.

    “She didn’t like when I played sports because I had a lot of injuries,” said Rojas. “She pushed me to keep going to school and would have killed me if I skipped to play sports.”

    His older cousins may have played a part in some of his injuries due to them being older and “tougher” when he played baseball or soccer in the rain, but were one of the reasons he loved sports according to Rojas.

    “I tried very hard to please my mom and dad. They expected me to do as well as Leidy, my sister, in school,” said Rojas. “I always wanted to be a medic. My sister is a pediatric nurse in Cuba and I look up to her, she’s really smart.”

    He and his sister never argued. At a young age, she took him to places and let him hang out with her friends. A role model to him, Rojas said she was very supportive and their relationship was perfect.

    Around the age of 16, the humble life of playing soccer with his big cousins and spending time with his sister, who he adores, would come to an end.

    “My dad and my mom separated when I moved to the states,” said Rojas.

    His mom decided both of them would meet up with relatives in the U.S.

    “My mom’s four sisters and my grandparents migrated to the U.S.,” said Rojas. “I was happy to move, but at the beginning it was tough. Not being able to speak English was intimidating. But I started making friends.”

    Columbia, South Carolina

    Rojas and his mom moved to Greenville, South Carolina, and a few years later settled in Columbia, S.C. where he capitalized on one of his passions.

    “My mom is a big baseball fan and loves to swim,” said Rojas. “She would wake up late at night to watch the baseball teams in Cuba. Her team was Villa Clara, my team was Industriales. My team is better.”

    Rojas said his competitive nature comes from his mom, which is what drove him to train with a local soccer team.

    “My dream and goal was to play professional soccer, I trained with the Soda City soccer team in Columbia,” said Rojas. “That’s all I was doing, working out and playing soccer. I spent summers running and playing, and went to the beach just to work out.”

    Rojas said his odd jobs and a short stint at a technical school studying radiology didn’t pan out.

    “Right before I joined the military, I was a soccer coach for private schools, one of the most humbling best experiences of my life,” said Rojas. “Teaching the game I love with two-eight year-olds, and helping them develop was great.”

    When Rojas decided he needed to do more for himself, he chose the Army.

    His mom didn’t approve.

    “We’re like a dog and cat. She is very protective and didn’t want me to join the military,” said Rojas. “She would cry and yell at me and said ‘I didn’t bring you to this country for you to join.’”

    Though his mom was mad, Rojas said she understood that it was time to do something important in his life.

    Since that time, around 2019 when he enlisted, Rojas has expressed his joy for serving as a combat medic and supporting the state-run, federally supported community vaccination center. His experience supporting COVID-19 vaccinations at his home station in Fort Stewart, Georgia aided his comfort level supporting in Atlanta.

    Atlanta Community Vaccination Center

    “It’s great being out here and I’m comfortable administering the vaccines,” said Rojas. “I made a lot of friends working with the Soldiers, and our state and federal partners.”

    His supervisor at the CVC stated that his flexibility, willingness to help his fellow battle buddies, and showing up early to help with setup has made him stand out.

    “He has been willing to cover down on any position and make sure patients have the best experience inside the Community Vaccination Center,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Don Melville, a combat medic and Atlanta native assigned to 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia. “He is a great Soldier with a bright future.”

    Living a humble life in Havana, moving at age 16, mentoring young adults to play the sport he loves, and then joining the U.S. Army, Rojas looked back and reflected on his life.

    “My dad has said the world is yours. He gives me the confidence to overcome any situation,” said Rojas. “My mom is my #1, being without my dad was tough, I wouldn’t be here without her.”



    Date Taken: 05.21.2021
    Date Posted: 05.21.2021 18:20
    Story ID: 397035
    Location: ATLANTA, GA, US 

    Web Views: 190
    Downloads: 0