Name: Morena Lopez (Retired USAF MSgt)
Title: Marketing Representative
Morena Lopez loves her job.
The minute you ask her about Sandboxx, she’s off like a cannon.
believe100,000% in what we’re doing. I’m really excited to be a part of it,” she says. “Here at we’re at the beginning of the whole military experience for these families Sandboxx .That’skind of exciting.”
She brings that same enthusiasm with her to Lackland Air Force Base where she greets new trainees with a smile. By night, she answers questions for Sandboxx users as a customer happiness team member and experienced Air Force veteran.
Because of her extensive military experience as a service member, spouse, and parent, Morena is a powerhouse of information.
Need to know when graduation is? She’ll look it up.
Want a restaurant recommendation for after basic graduation? Ask away.
Unsure of what to pack for Air Force BMT? She’ll tell you.
Ready to get married right after BMT graduation? She’s an expert on that, too.
Below, she shares insight on the Air Force lifestyle, what deployments are really like, and why she loves working for Sandboxx.
How long were you in the Air Force? What was your job?
19 years, 6 months, 22 days. But who was counting? I worked as a supply logistician.
What made you choose the Air Force?
I lived on a base in Germany. I went to visit my cousin there. Her mother had married her stepfather who was in the Army. She moved to Germany to live with him. I went to visit for a summer when I was 16 years old and ended up staying for three more years. I didn’t know anything about the military. My aunt would always say she would have joined Air Force. I looked into it and joined.
What did you enjoy most about the Air Force lifestyle?
The structure, believe it or not. I thrived off of it. Once you retire or get out, nobody cares what you do. I’ve been told what to do for 20 years. I miss the camaraderie. In Quality Assurance (QA), we would have our coffee time. All of a sudden I retired and didn’t have that anymore and the understanding military mindset and the people.
Favorite duty station? Why?
For the longest time it was Oklahoma. It was my first base. Then, living in England, are you kidding me? It was amazing. There’s specific things about each location.
I was in Tucson for 8 years on purpose. I loved the heat. I was there a total of 11 years. I don’t have a specific favorite. Now that I’m here in San Antonio, I love San Antonio. This is where we knew we were always knew we were going to retire.
Who is deployment harder for: the service member or family members?
Deploying, I always felt, was harder for the person left behind. For you, deploying is full of new and exciting things like finding your new routine, meeting new people, exploring the base, figuring out which DFAC has the best food.
The person left behind gets to experience the everyday things, alone. And, of course, there’s the “deployment curse”. Once the military member leaves, all things that can go wrong, do!
Tell us about your deployments. Did you enjoy those?
The deployments I’ve been on have been good. By that I mean I’ve experienced some memories. Fortunately, I typically stayed on base, so I didn’t see a lot of terrible things.
What was the experience like?
A few of my deployment highlights:
- Rode a camel and shopped at a gold souk (market) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Climbed the Ziggurat of Ur in Iraq
- Watched dolphins play off the beaches of Masirah Island in Oman
- Drank traditional sweet tea with the locals in Kuwait
- Experienced real war-time scenarios in Afghanistan
It wasn’t always easy and fun, but I’ve always tried to make the best of my situation.
I’ve run 5Ks at multiple locations. I even did a 10-mile race once and only once (5k is my personal limit!). Fitness is big in the military in general, and especially in a deployed environment. People tend to really focus on that.
So is attending college classes! I’ve taken quite a few during my deployments.
In Riyadh, women had to wear an abaya if we went off base. Imagine 120+ degree weather in the blazing sun, fully clothed in long sleeves and long pants, closed-toe shoes, and wearing a silk gown over everything with a scarf covering every inch of your hair. It was unpleasant, but I was determined to experience the culture!
Is there anything you miss about deployments?
I miss deploying in some ways. I don’t miss the 3-5 days of travel to get to a location, though! I miss how close-knit people tend to get. When you’re at home with your family, you have that to focus on. But when you’re all grouped together with no family around, you become each other’s family.
And my favorite thing: You realize what is most important in your life. Missing the things that you may take for granted when you’re home become the fondest memories when you’re deployed.
And the shopping. I would be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t enjoy the shopping. Rugs, pashminas, purses, jewelry, tea sets, furniture, Faux-lex watches (faux-Rolex!), you name it, I’ve got plenty of it! The base sponsors a “bazaar” of sorts where vendors come on base and you can purchase things, and I loved it!
How did you first hear about Sandboxx?
I was volunteering at an airport USO and one of the ladies working there said, “This company came in called Sandboxx and they wanted to hire someone.” She passed along the information to me.
Then, Sandboxx’s Senior Strategist Paul Davis came down and talked to me. He asked if I could start tomorrow. I told him, “I could start today. I’m retired. I’m just a master gardener now.”
What does your day-to-day job look like?
I work with personnel on Lackland Air Force base to ensure a smooth operation of
I ask the MTIs if they recognize the Sandboxx envelopes, and they’re like, “Yes, who are you guys?!”
By night, I work as a customer happiness team member. I sit by my computer and answer questions for family members about the service, Sandboxx letters, delivery times, and more.
I like to help people. We’re really here because we care.
What lessons has Sandboxx taught you?
How to take the punches, my goodness. It really has. And how to learn to communicate with people on their level. I’m learning people skills.
I loved being a part of the military and being a part of it still. I had to come on base after I retired. I wanted to be around military people even before Sandboxx. I’m not ready to give that up anytime in the future. Working for Sandboxx, it fulfills so many desires and passions in so many aspects.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Helping people like the trainees. They’re all scared. I kind of guide them. The family members who are left behind. The Sades of the world. I got you. Especially when it’s Air Force related because I can really speak on experience.
It’s definitely taught me to be more customer service and people oriented. The people behind the counter, I want to be nicer to them now.