COLUMBUS, Ohio –
The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15-Oct. 15. The Hispanic Employment Program is highlighting employees of Hispanic heritage throughout the month in honor of their enduring contributions to the agency’s global mission of logistics support to America’s warfighters.
What is your position title and role? I am a human resources specialist working as a program manager and certifying official for the Veterans Administration On-The-Job Training program for the DLA enterprise. I provide customer support for veteran participants in the Pathways Career Excellence recruitment program who are requesting VA benefits while participating in the on-the-job training in DLA. I also serve as the liaison between the VA and DLA concerning matters that arise between our agencies regarding any of the available training programs.
How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? How long have you worked for L&M and how did you get your start here? Including military service with the U.S. Navy, my federal government work longevity has been around 21 years. I started with DLA Land and Maritime in 2003 as a general supply specialist manager through the corporate internship program. In 2009, I became a general supply specialist instructor with the DLA Training Center.
How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life? I would say it’s placing my passion, devotion and dedication into whatever I do. That includes my work, lifestyle, community service and dedication to my family. Taking pride in anything and everything you as an individual want to accomplish even in the most meaningless of tasks. Although we may doubt it, there will always be someone who will appreciate what you have accomplished, even if that person is only yourself.
What do you think about when you hear National Hispanic Heritage Month? Honestly, I think about all those who’ve come before me and have opened the doors to our opportunities. Those whose shoulders we stand on like Roberto Clemente, Julio Cesar Chaves, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and Raul Julia, who for me are incredible Hispanic/Latinos at the national level. At the state level we have great mentors, friends, leaders, civil rights advocates and fighters, such as Ruben Castilla Herrera. And of course, DLA associates who’ve worked, paid their dues and contributed to the legacy of this great organization and have retired like Maria Castillo, Felix Huertas, Ramon Valencia, Charles Palmer and others.
How do we make our Hispanic Heritage part of our daily lives and not just confine it to a date or month every year? For me, I celebrate my heritage every day. As a Puerto Rican I am proud of my heritage as Spanish, Taino and African. I seek every opportunity to learn and share more about my culture with people through my involvement in community services such as the League of United Latin American Citizens in Columbus. I am an active member presiding on the governance board of the community school Columbus Bilingual Academy North. I cohost with my long-time friend Benito Lucio on our social media-based program “Frente Latino 2020” offering online information to our Hispanic/Latino viewers on the latest political and social trends taking place in central Ohio. Finally, through music as a tenor sax enthusiast and musician I enrich our Columbus community. My passion comes from a public music school in Puerto Rico with limited resources but with lots of passion for the arts of jazz, salsa, Hispanic/Latino folklore and cultural music. I am thankful for my professors Felix Valedón, Andres León and Santiago “Chago Martinéz” – may they all rest in peace.
Who are some people of Hispanic heritage you admire? My most admired Hispanic/Latino figure is the original Mr. 3,000, baseball hall of famer Roberto Clemente. His fortitude, resiliency, determination and dedication to his dream of becoming one of the best or the best all-around baseball player of his times has no comparison. My admiration also goes out to my music teachers Felix Valedón, Andres León and Santiago “Chago” Martinez who dedicated time and effort to show me the art of music and to keep me off the streets and away from drugs. My beloved mother Olga Caro. It takes an astonishing maternal woman to convince a Puerto Rican kid out of the ghettos of Brooklyn, New York, to value himself, to set goals in life and overcome failures, and to see beyond the trees in front of him a world in which he could be successful. Former DLA Land and Maritime EEO Director Charles Palmer and lastly, my wife of 35 years Ramonita Rivera who served beside me in the U.S. Navy, is the mother of our three daughters Iris, Monica and Gisselle, and now is the matriarch of our clan composed of five grandchildren and three sons-in-law.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today? Has history taught us anything to help us overcome them? We must value ourselves as individuals and see that we’re part of a society that needs us – that as we work together, regardless of our background, level of education, gender, religion, sexual orientation and age, our history will define us as who and what we are. We as Hispanic/Latino Americans of this nation define our history today. As they say today is a present – a gift – we need to cherish it and enjoy it because tomorrow is the future and we don’t know what it entails. And yesterday is the past which is something we will not regain. But today is our present. Let’s make it count and cherish this gift as a challenge to embrace our footprint for a better tomorrow and future.
What is a Hispanic tradition you intend to pass down, that your parents have passed down to you? To enjoy and cherish with passion any task, project or job you accomplish. It might be meaningless but in the whole scheme of the universe someone will value what you’ve done. Even if that someone is only yourself. Because self-enjoyment of one’s own achievements and successes gives you as an individual purpose to strive to do better.
If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? Always give purpose and enjoyment to what you do…everything we put our mind to doing is meaningful!
What do you enjoy the most about your line of work? My favorite thing about my line of work is providing customer support, offering the care needed to the warfighters and taking pride in what we do as an individual. This is what sets us apart from other organizations and creates our legacy. We need to pride ourselves because we support the warfighters of this nation, its customers in general, and have the opportunity to work for such an honorable organization as the Defense Logistics Agency.