Female combat veteran says ‘failure is not an option’

Gulf War veteran Constance Peresada joined the military as a widow with two toddlers and continues to fight for her life today
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 5:09 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -Simple things aren’t so simple when they’ve been taken from you. Like a marriage to the boy you’ve known since elementary school. Constance Peresada married the boy she met in elementary school. She became a widow at the young age of 23, but she wasn’t the only one grieving. Their two little girls, Joy and Sirita were forced to grow up. “I lost him on May 19th, 1984. He had a fall involving a motor vehicle,” said Peresada.

After the loss of her husband she was motivated to join the Army and make a life for herself and her two children. “I wanted at that point to raise my daughters as strong independent women. I had only three months of college and I knew I had to do something to shock me out of my grief. I chose to join the military to let them experience the world.”

Connie trained to be a 91-Bravo. A combat flight medic. She was both Airborne and Air Assault. And though her military future was looking bright, she was on a motherly mission. “I went to my commander and explained to him I was the only living parent and I wanted my children back. He told me to pass all my medical test and I could get my kids.”

Mission accomplished! Connie was reunited with her children and she worked hard to juggle active duty military as a single mom with a three and a five year old. “I would come home from training, spend every moment with them, put them to bed, and I’d be up from midnight to 2 a.m. studying. Failure was not an option. I could not let them down.”

Her country was also calling. The Gulf War broke out and Connie was ready to put her training to the test. Specifically overseas. But the Army had different orders. “My Commander called and told us we weren’t going.” I was crushed. I was angry. I had trained all my life as an EMT. I trained Air Assault, Airborne. I was ready. They said, ‘no’.”

Instead Connie was on a special mission. She was instructed to go to New York and pick up the wounded coming from the battlefield and transport them to Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Connie will never know how many lives she saved, but she does credit the Army for saving her life. After the Gulf War, she had plans to make a career out of the military and retire. But again, the Army had different plans. “The war was over. In 1991, the president at that time, shrunk all the military branches. If you had one year or less on your contract you were out. I had six months. I was frightened. For me, the military life was the only stability I’d ever known. I was not ready, I wanted to do 20 years. I had faith. God must have a plan.”

He did then and He still does today. But He never promised an easier life. Trials continue and there’s a reason her name is “Constance”. She is constantly in the fight of her life. Stage four cancer has come for Connie and while it might touch her body, her faith is unshaken.