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Amber Bilderain, program manager, Lifestyle Insights, Networking, Knowledge, and Skills, native of Albuquerque, N.M., has been involved with the Marine Corps for more than 18 years. Her position at L.I.N.K.S provides her with an opportunity to continue to work closely with Marines and spouses. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I've Learned: Amber Bilderain

23 Mar 2015 | Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

I’ve been part of the Marine Corps for a long time, both as a Marine and as a spouse. I love the Marine Corps and I’m very passionate about it. It’s definitely a big part of my life. I’m proud of being a spouse but I’m also proud of working with the spouses.

I joined the Marine Corps in May, 1997 and I got to the Combat Center in December of that same year. I reached my end of active service in 2001 then came back on orders in 2003 with my reserve unit.

I joined because I knew that I wasn’t ready for college. I needed some discipline before trying to go to school full time and the Marine Corps got me settled down and focused.

I talked to the Army Recruiter before the Marine Corps recruiter, and he was kind of appealing to the side of me that was a wild teenager. As soon as I talked to the Marine Corps recruiter it was more like ‘we work hard, we play hard’ and I thought if I’m going to be anything, I’m going to be the best.
My husband and I went to [Marine Corps Base Camp Hansen] in Okinawa for three years, then we asked to come back here. We wanted to come back because we love the community and we love the small town. We had a lot of friends that retired here so we still had a big support group.

I’ll be married 14 years in May. We have three children, our oldest Jaden is 14, Gianna is 10 and Gena is 4, they keep me busy outside of work.

I like hiking, snowboarding and I especially like Muay Thai boxing. I have spent about a year and a half training with Fight Club 29 on base.

Being here, I love that I can go snowboarding within an hour and a half or I can go to the beach and try surfing in the same day.

I’ve been snowboarding since I was 19. Over the years, I’ve tried to learn something new every time I go and now I get to teach my kids. I’m really drawn to the mountains and when I’m up there, my head’s clear and it’s just me time.

My oldest child is not sure what he wants to do. This past Christmas we were out walking around and he says ‘I really think I want to be either a Marine or a cop.’ It’s so important to me that he took an interest in the Marine Corps. I’m very proud and I would definitely support him.

When my husband was deployed in 2003, I was here as a reservist. Getting involved as a spouse, I had to learn what it’s like getting information and connecting with your Marine. It was a neat transformation and I definitely like that I can relate to both sides.

I’ve been with L.I.N.K.S for seven years. In the program we teach family members about the Marine Corps lifestyle, and I get to talk about something I love. The most rewarding part of my job is working with our volunteers.

The history, traditions and the pride we take in everything we do as Marines is something that is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. I love the loyalty aspect of it and having that brotherhood, but the pride is something that has shaped my life.

What stands out to me is the people I served with. We still keep in touch and some of them are even my children’s godparents, because that’s how close we are. I can definitely say my favorite part about being a Marine was the Marines.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms