I joined the Army Reserve shortly after the Towers fell on 9/11. In 2005, I was deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army to serve my country. While I was there, I met a fellow service member named Matthew. We fell in love and when we came back home we got married.
Matthew and I gave birth to our son David and I got pregnant again. We were optimistic for our future together, and we were talking about buying a house and building a life together with our newborn son and another on the way.
Unfortunately, while I was still pregnant with my second son, Matthew passed away from a disease he contracted while in the military. The past 12 years have not been easy. Raising two boys as a single mom in Arizona, one of whom has special needs, can make it hard to make ends meet. I also went to college to get a degree in nutrition and a Masters in public health so I can provide more for my sons.
The last year has been even more difficult, as I tried to protect my family from a deadly disease and keep our family afloat during a pandemic that put so many Arizonans out of work.
But we’re seeing the end of the pandemic approach faster than we expected thanks to President Biden and the American Rescue Plan. That plan not only provides vaccines for anyone who wants one, it put $1,400 checks in the pockets of millions of Arizonans. With that extra money, I was able to pay the closing costs on a house — a dream that my husband and I had for ourselves and our sons.
The story of my last year during the pandemic is not unique in Arizona. And all of us are lucky for the leadership that President Biden, Senator Mark Kelly and Senator Kyrsten Sinema provided for Arizona families struggling to get past this heartbreaking year.
Hillary Ceja is a Tempe resident.