During January, 2010, I enjoyed traveling to Phoenix AZ, Dallas TX, Sacramento CA and Anchorage AK. My travels offer me an insight to the pulse of the people and many Veterans I connect with. In every case, as I meet many people we start with small talk and at some point the common question surfaces "where are you from?"
I am certain you have enjoyed getting a pulse as well and similar small talk. What I have concluded is that this small talk always leads to my race or ethnic background. My ethnic background is Mexican, born and raised in Chicago Il. However, I have said in the past that I am an American-Mexican race, I did so to be politically correct.
My travels last month made me reconsider my race. I looked up the definition of race and there are clear definitions in particular " any people united by common history, language, cultural traits...". This hit the nerve of my thought. I am of the American Veteran race as I am united with my fellow Veteran by common history, language and cultural traits.
I started to be part of the American Veteran race when I earned the right to wear the uniform of the United States Marine Corps at age 17. My photo is the cradle of my American Veteran race.
While in uniform, I signed and gave an oath to comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a language of its own.
I am sharing this with you as I continue to share my vision nationally. I have learned and continue to learn that the American Veteran is a relevant race. If we as a nation fail to change on how we serve our American Veterans, soon, we may find the American Veteran to be a dying breed. It has been reported that 23 - 40% of American homeless adults are American Veterans! This is not the result we should accept and it is my aim to eradicate that notion by 2035.
My last photo taken while in uniform was September 9, 1999 with Master Sergeant David Folsom and Brigadier General Mary Wilson, during my visit to Okinawa Japan. While on travel, it was at that time I decided to retire April 1, 2000, with tremendous intention on what I decided to achieve. I am not alone, many have joined my aim and we will REFUSE TO FAIL! Semper Fi, and thank you so very much for crossing the line together with me!