COLUMBUS, Ohio –
The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month each year from September 15th to October 15th. 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’m an inventory management specialist or material planner. I manage close to 20,000 items. I make sure there is enough inventory, identify and resolve critical supply problems, and interface with internal customers to guarantee my items are in good “holistic” health. I’m also a team trainer in my current position.
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? I’ve worked for the federal government a total of 15 and a half years. I served in the Army for three years and as a “weekend warrior” in the Puerto Rico Army Regular National Guard for 10 years. I’ve been a member of the DLA Land and Maritime workforce for 12 and a half years. Back in Puerto Rico and after 21 years working in the private sector, I was looking for ways to spend more time with my wife Maricarmen and our daughter Liane. At that time, I worked long hours and was on call 24/7. As a store manager and a funeral home manager, I was responsible for everything that happened at my assigned locations. One day, I was looking at the local newspaper and stumbled upon a recruitment ad for DLA. After discussing it with my wife and daughter, I applied. I was recruited through the corporate internship program – a great opportunity – but also a big compromise for me to leave my roles as a leader. The rest is history.
How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life? I’m extremely proud of my Hispanic heritage. We have the best of the two worlds: Spain (Motherland) and the USA (new). From Spain we receive the Spanish language, our religious belief, culture, traditions and values. I think that our work ethics, dedication and commitment stand out. My father worked hard to support and provide for my mother and their five kids. In my civilian career, I had the honor and privilege to work with many Puerto Ricans that worked very hard as well. I think those are the most influential factors that I take from my Hispanic ancestry/origins.
What do you think about when you hear National Hispanic Heritage Month? I think about our rich history that pre-dates Christopher Columbus. Our blended identity that is rooted and influenced by Native Americans, African and European cultures. I think about our Spanish language that is shared among 20 Hispanic countries and my beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Our diverse culture, people, traditions and our strong religious beliefs shaped us.I think about the dedicated hard-working individuals trying to make a decent leaving no matter the circumstances. Hispanics in general are very resilient individuals.
How do we make our Hispanic Heritage part of our daily lives and not just confine it to a date or month every year? Embracing who we are. We should not be afraid of being identified as Hispanic and speaking Spanish between us. Our language, culture and traditions are so rich, and I know we have a lot to share and teach people different than us. I also believe that we don’t have to assimilate everything from the American culture or any other country we may live in. We must engage and learn from them without losing who we are and our place in society. We need to respect others as we would like others to respect us. I think that by working hard daily we can show others how appreciative we are of all the things we have.
Who are some people of Hispanic heritage you admire? My deceased parents Víctor and Ana. They were decent, hard-working individuals with a strong faith. They taught me morals, religious values and a strong work ethic – especially to always be honest no matter the circumstances you face. I admire Major General Alberto Picó, the Ex Adjutant General for the PRARNG during the administration of Governor Luis A. Ferré from 1969 to 1972. Picó was responsible for my passion for the Army, and he was the reason I pursued a career as an officer in the U.S. Army. I also admire Pope Francisco, the first Hispanic Pope, and Roberto Clemente who lost his life doing volunteer work.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today? Has history taught us anything to help us overcome them? Hispanics are the largest minority group in the U.S. Everywhere we go, we find good hard-working Hispanics. There are teachers, nurses, doctors, professors, lawyers, small business owners, etc.I don’t think we have enough political representation at any level within the government. The key for us to overcome most of the challenges is to pursue higher education and educate others by our responsible actions, work ethics and staying resilient to overcome the challenges.
What is a Hispanic tradition you intend to pass down, that your parents have passed down to you? I’m Catholic and my parents were devoted Catholics. They worked hard to provide us with a private Catholic education. So, I would like to pass down to my daughter Liane all the religious traditions and values that I learned from my parents. I hope that after she graduates in May of 2022 as a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine, she will be someone that will keep alive all those religious traditions, keep working hard and keep speaking Spanish.
If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? I have a few: “Keep working hard no matter how many obstacles you are facing.” An ex-coworker at Kmart Corporation taught me the following saying: “The sky is the limit” and I always think about it when I am facing challenges. My third one is: “Welcome diversity, but especially people who think different than you.”
What do you enjoy the most about your line of work? I enjoy supporting our nation and defense community. Everything I do daily affects our end customers or warfighters. Because of my background with the Army, National Guard and the Reserve Officer Training Course, I put myself in the warfighters’ shoes and work as hard as I can to make sure that the items I manage are in good health.