Hello my name is Nancy Jessenia Vanessa Pancán-Vargas. I was born in Gualán-Zacapa, Guatemala, and raised in Auburn, CA. I am the oldest of five siblings. All the men on my father’s side have served in the military for generations including my father who served in the Guatemalan Special Forces, Kaibil.
He inspired me to serve in the United States military as he and my family did for their country. I was the first and only female in my family to have served in any military branch, which was very unexpected and not very supported by my family – but they eventually were very proud of me.
I joined the U.S. Army at the age of 18 in 2006 and was in until 2013. My military occupational specialty (MOS) was chemical biological radiological nuclear (CBRN) specialist. During my military time I was deployed to Iraq.
During my deployment I realized the struggles women around the world encounter on a daily basis. I have seen it in my home country of Guatemala and now in Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Seeing the cultural expectations of women made me appreciate my life in the United States.
I enjoyed my time in the military and would not trade it for anything in the world. I was exposed to so many different types of people and have learned about their cultures, something I would not have learned in the small town of Auburn.
I am currently enrolled at Sierra College working on my degree in psychology. I plan to transfer to Sacramento State University and work in the trauma therapy field to specifically help other veterans cope with combat stress through cognitive therapy. I also work at the veterans’ center at my school. When I am not working or studying, you can find me enjoying time with my family and friends whether it is taking a road trip to the coast, kayaking, swimming pretty much anything to do with water. I also love to volunteer with veterans, participate in local races and other social activities.
Hometown: Gualan-Zacapa, Guatemala but in America it is Auburn, CA
Years of Service: 6 years 6 months
Rank when you left the service: SGT/ E5
Duty stations: Fort Hood, TX; Fort Leonardwood, MO; Baghdad, Iraq; Kuwait