Happy Veterans Day! Today, we honor the millions of military veterans who have served this great nation in times of war and in times of peace. We humbly thank these brave men and women who have protected our freedoms and thank all the military families for their sacrifices. Nearly 22 million veterans currently live in the United States. Their service will be forever remembered.
Many Latinos have served in the military providing an extraordinary service to our nation. Hispanics have participated in every major military conflict, from the American Revolution to the present-day conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Medal of Honor has been presented to 43 Hispanics. Rafael Peralta, Ramon Rodriguez, Isaac Camacho, Guy Gabaldon, and Marcelino Serna have all been nominated to receive Medals of Honor.
Hispanic veterans have served a major role in American culture and within the Latino community, individuals like Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers of America and a Navy veteran; Desi Arnez, actor and television pioneer who served in the Army; and Ben Fernandez, the first Hispanic to run for President and Army veteran, have all left a unique mark on our society.
Currently, there are over 1 million Latinos who have served in the Armed Forces. I am positive that within this crop of brave of individuals there will be many national leaders and transformative figures, maybe even a future President.
As a nation, we need to do more to help recently returned veterans who are facing especially difficult ongoing challenges. Many post 9/11 veterans, not only have to deal with the nation’s high unemployment and a shaky economy, they are returning home with physical and mental challenges. According to a new report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, “one in eight post-9/11 veterans are living in poverty and the youngest of them have it the worst.. Among those ages 18 to 24, a whopping 21.3 percent live in poverty.” (read more.)
Groups like Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) have been created to help returning military officers adjust to civilian life.
“With the mission to honor and empower wounded warriors, WWP is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering a variety of programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury – from the physical to the invisible wounds of war.”
To learn more about Latinos in the military, please read:
- MyLatinoVoices: “Duty, Honor and Patriotism“ by Jim Estrada. – A thorough account of Latinos involvement in the military.
- OC Register: “Veterans Day event will honor 7 well-known Latinos”
- Fox News Latino: “Veteran’s Day: What does it Mean to be a Latino Veteran?” by Luis E. Orengo
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and marked the end of that War World I on Nov. 11, 1918. This year marks the first Veterans Day in which there are no longer any surviving U. S. veterans of World War I, a war that once mobilized more than 4 million U.S. combatants. The last of these veterans, Frank Buckles, died in February. Learn more about Frank Buckles and honor his legacy at the The Frank Buckles Tribute Fund.