As 2022 draws to a close, we look back at previous “Punto Final” columns with messages specific to Latinas serving in the military.
The Power of Performance
By Captain Jo-Ann F. Burdian
Sector Commander/Captain of the Port
USCG Sector Miami Florida
(Vol. 27. No. 6, 2021)
On July 7, 1993, I stood on a hot parade ground and, with newly cut hair, swore an oath to the Constitution. It was my first day as a Cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and, in fairness, it was a day I spent seriously considering getting out of the Coast Guard. The only boat I had ever been on was the Staten Island Ferry, and I was not completely sure what the Coast Guard was, but I knew I wanted to serve my Nation and I needed to find a college that offered me free tuition. Choosing to attend the Coast Guard Academy was the least-informed, best decision of my life. I would never have imagined that, 28 years later, I’d be back in my south Florida hometown in Command of one of the busiest units in the Coast Guard.
In the intervening years I have commanded a ship at sea, briefed the President of the United States, interdicted illicit drugs, managed crises, and saved lives. I currently oversee over 800 Active Duty, Reserve, and Civilian Coast Guard personnel, plus over 1,000 Coast Guard Auxiliarist volunteers who all work together to promote safety, security, resilience, and environmental stewardship in the waters that surround south Florida. I love my job, the amazing leaders I have the privilege to serve alongside, and the vibrant community we support.
Latinas Adelante! Moving Beyond Diversity, Embracing Inclusion in the Fight for Equity
By Linda Urrutia-Varhall and Dr. Cynthia Baron
(Vol. 25. No. 6, 2019)
As Latinas, many of us face the concept of diversity. In both the civilian and military world, there are offices and personnel dedicated to ensuring diversity as it relates to numbers and representation. But is diversity the true end game to ensure the military, corporations, organizations, and institutions reflect society?
To many, the definition of diversity means different genders and racial/ethnic identities are all in the same room. However, just to place diverse personnel in the same room is simply not enough. For Latinas in particular, once in the room, we must strive to have a voice and power in that room…in other words, fight for inclusion. But the fight for diversity and inclusion does not stop there…along with having a voice we should walk away from the room knowing we all have a fair and equal opportunity to succeed in that particular space.
To be able to succeed, we do need to put some things in place. We should ensure we have “champions” established at all supervisory levels. Many times, this is focused at only the higher levels. Where we really need champions is at the mid-range level. It is often at the mid-range/mid-level where Latinas feel they must decide between a career and family and the majority of the time the choice is family. However, if mid-level champions are in place perhaps Latina up and coming leaders would make career choices based on the mentoring and supportive work environment invested in their success.
Additionally, Latinas should embrace being comfortable being uncomfortable. In fact, that little discomfort means you are moving forward and exploring new territory. In our view, these experiences help us start to feel confident about having a “voice in the room and honing our power” and presents opportunities for career growth.
Looking Back to see the Future: A Historical Perspective on Hispanic American Naval Service
By Rear Adm. Christina “Tina” Alvarado, SHCE, U.S. Navy
(Vol. 23. No. 6, 2017)
As we look forward to the new year, I think it’s important for us to look back on the rich history that has led us to where we are today in our U.S. Navy.
Hispanic Americans have always stood ready to answer the Nation’s call and in so doing, have contributed to the success of our Armed Forces in the wars and conflicts that have defined our nation. Despite challenges, people of Hispanic or Latino descent have never backed away from the call to serve their country, and some have left a permanent mark on naval history, while paving the way for those of us who follow.
Our country has honored the significant contributions of these brave Hispanic Americans. There have been nine ships named after Hispanic Americans and between the Navy and Marine Corps, 15 Hispanic Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice and earned the Medal of Honor. Their stories amaze and inspire.
Such selfless service of Hispanic Americans throughout history only serves to intensify my pride in my cultural heritage and invigorates me to challenge our next generation of Hispanic service members to exceed all expectations.