2020 Veterans Day: A Conversation with A Veteran in Remmie Community, Ricardo Perez
In honor of all veterans who fought for world peace in the name of the United States, Remmie Health is honored to share a story of a veteran within our community, Ricardo Peretz.
A Remmie customer and a South Texas transplant to Seattle, Ricardo Peretz served as a sniper from 2006 to 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. He is also a writer, husband, and father of two lovely girls. Ricardo is currently working on publishing his first book, Born to Fail, about his experiences as a serviceman.
After his deployment in Afghanistan, Ricardo finished his study in Chemical Engineering and then obtained a master's degree in Entrepreneurship from the University of Washington. The leadership he gained during his military career fostered his passion for entrepreneurship. "I'm going to keep my own boss," said Peretz confidently. "I can't stand people who are in charge of me that don't know what they're doing."
During a conversation that Remmie had with Ricardo, he shared his stories as a veteran about his motivations and determination to become a soldier, his experience in the deployment to Afghanistan, life as a father, and his new book, Born to Fail.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: We’re very excited to hear about your experience as a serviceman. What motivated you to join the military?
Ricardo: After I was kind of a lost soul growing, like a lot of teenagers are in general, I just didn't know what I wanted out of life. I ended up going to community college and getting a good opportunity at work, but I had to work the third shift throughout the night from 10:00 PM till 8:00 AM. And then I had classes until noon. It just made everything really tough. I got tired of the grind and I was like ‘I'm going to join the military.’ And hopefully things worked out.
It was a really unique experience. I went to do basic and advanced training. It's called one station unit training in Fort Benning, Georgia. After Fort Benning, I went to airborne school and learned how to jump out of planes for a month. And after that I got stationed here in Washington state. I got put into what's called a striker union. And I eventually deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.
Q: How was the deployment to Afghanistan? How was it like to be back to the U.S. after the battle?
Ricardo: It was a bit tough. Even today I know a lot of guys struggle with the deployment because we were one of the hardest units. We took a lot of casualties and it was a rough deployment for us. So coming back home, it was a tough transition. After you go out there, you basically have to worry about everyday things that you don't have to worry about so much being here in the United States. Any kind of little debris by a road or pieces of trash nearby can trigger those feelings like, ‘Oh man, is there something there?,’ because they hide bombs under everything over there.
For me personally, I started going to community college after I got out of the military, so when I was first taking my first classes, I would expect the professors to start yelling at us. The military mindset. In the military, they yell at you to be quiet, but at school, professors aren't going to do that. So it was a big transition for me as well in a lot of different ways.
Q: I know that you love to write, and you started writing while you were serving in Afghanistan. Could you tell us how you started writing your book? What was the motivation, and how was the process?
Ricardo: I started to write as an outlet because I didn't really have anybody I could turn to. And there was crazy stuff going on, not even just the casualties, but just the way the unit was running. I started to write as a way to vent.
Whenever we lost one of the men we served with, it really made me want to write about it. One of them passed away in 2018 to a very rare form of cancer. He was 29 years old and had one of the rare forms of cancer that people have ever had. It really motivated me to tell our story because he was so young and so vibrant and healthy. But all of a sudden this cancer hit him out of nowhere.
Q: What is the book about?
Ricardo: My experience in the military service is the majority of the book, but the first corner of it is about my graduate school years and how I grew up in a broken home and basically raised myself to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I figured that if I wrote a book about what happened in my military service, a lot of people wouldn't believe it because it's really crazy. But if I talked about how I got to the unit with my childhood and then talk about my journey ending up at the university of Washington, after getting out of the military, it would bring more validity to the things I say about my military service.
Q: You are also a father of two lovely girls. What's the biggest frustration in parenting?
Ricardo: Being a soldier is tough, but being the homemaker is definitely up there. I was left in a role as a stay-at- home-father because my wife is so busy with work. The biggest thing that really frustrates me is, especially in prior to the kids being able to communicate effectively, whenever they get sick with a fever, ear aches or any kind of medical problems. Even as they get older, their communication is still lacking. My daughter once got really sick with pneumonia. The first time, we went into the hospital and they said ‘Oh, it's just, maybe a cold or flu symptoms. Here's a little bit of medicine.’ But she just kept very sick for almost up to two weeks. We had taken her in multiple times to the clinic and they just kept sending us home telling us to keep hydrating her. So my biggest frustration is just whenever they're sick and not knowing.
Q: As a Remmie user, how do you see Remmie can help parents with children?
Ricardo:I know that this device could help, especially in South Texas, where I am from. Because if you want to go to the nearest big city to see a real doctor, you'd have to go at least an hour and a half one way. So you're looking at a three hour round trip to go see a medical professional. It's a huge inconvenience for some people. But the Remmie device to see a doctor with the telemedicine that we're using these days could save the trip and costs.
And it would also be able to benefit a lot of people, especially lower income families because rather than spending all that time, expense and effort to go for something that may not even be as serious as you may think it may be.
Q: Last question. What are your personal goals as a veteran, writer, dad, and human Ricardo Perez?
Ricardo: The deployment was really rough. We lost a lot of men, and even today there's still a lot of trauma and hurt from that deployment. My goal as a veteran is to try and fix the award situation. Whenever our unit came back from Afghanistan, the army deactivated the unit the same month that they came back. When the arm deactivated the unit, a lot of the guys got swept under the rug, their awards were not done right. I've been trying to fix that situation since I learned about it in 2016. So that's my goal as a veteran
For writing the book, I'm trying to create a revenue source so I can fund a documentary. I want to create a documentary for the unit. If you look up online, there's a lot of negative stuff associated with the unit because of a handful of people. It's kind of like a bad apple ruins the bunch. Because of the few bad actors, the entire unit swept it up into it all. There are so many stories about brave young men putting themselves in harm’s way to save and help each other. That's, as a writer and as a veteran, what my goal is for.
My goal as a dad is just to be the best dad that I can be and support my daughters in any way possible. I have my degrees in chemical engineering, so I would love for them to be interested in STEM. But if they want to be artists or social scientists, that's fine too.
And as a human, I want to help as many people as I can. I have so many ideas, which is why I love entrepreneurship. I have so many things I wanted to try to do and create in my lifetime to help as many other people as I can. Everything that I do in terms of entrepreneurship is ultimately for other people, to help and empower them.
Check out Ricardo’s first book, ‘Born to Fail,’ and express your honor to veterans.
Editor: Yijin Kim