SFC JENNIFER H. DACANAY
Guam Army National Guard
Sergeant First Class Jennifer Dacanay has served in the Guam Army National Guard for the past 19 years. An Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Soldier since 2006, Sergeant Dacanay was promoted to E7 in October 2012 and is currently the Maintenance Supervisor at the CSMS, the Combined Service Maintenance Shop. Of Korean descent and born and raised in Guam, she graduated from George Washington High School, and joined the military at the age of 24. She is the mother of two daughters and is married to a Guam Army National Guard veteran.
The Decision to Join: Dededo, 2000
Jen is in elementary school in the 1980’s, and Private Benjamin is always on TV. Lorna Patterson stars in the TV series as Judy Benjamin, a ditzy socialite who joins the army expecting to find condos at boot camp, and Jen thinks it’s hilarious. Private Benjamin is the person you least expect to get through basic training, and everyone in the movie tells her so. Surprisingly, hilariously, she keeps pushing through. She’s tougher than she looks, she knows how to cause all kinds of trouble when she needs to fight for herself, and she’s damn funny.
A kid growing up in Guam, Jen loves the movie. “I wanted to join the military since then,” she says.
Jen grows up, graduates from high school, goes to class and works at other jobs, but the military is always a possibility, a potential path. The Guam Army National Guard begins to look more and more like a good choice for her, over serving active duty in the U.S. Army or the Army Reserve.
“My friends were in it, my buddies were in it,” Jen says.
She hears from her friends in the Guard about the G.I. Bill, their sign-up bonuses, and tuition assistance, which is an additional $4,500 per fiscal year. Their I.D. cards get them commissary privileges, and rather than being stationed on a faraway base, they’re based at home in Guam. They have two weeks a year for AT, annual training, and they travel, visiting different parts of the world.
“They came up to me and asked me, ‘Hey, do you want to take the ASVAB? We’re thinking about joining the military, joining the Guard,” Jen says.
“‘Okay!’” Jen tells them.
They take the ASVAB—the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test—together. After the results come in, her co-workers change their minds, surprising Jen. She’s the only one who enters the service.
“I guess they decided not to,” Jen says, laughing, “while I continued on.”
The journey continues.
The journey continues.