Soldier enjoys chance to coach, mentor youth
April 29, 2013
Camp Atterbury, Ind. -- Deciding what you want to be when you grow up can be overwhelming.
Recently, a group of subject matter experts from a variety of career fields -- including the U.S. Army -- gathered to provide young adults advice and information as they make those decisions.
These types of events are especially important since we can affect and mold young minds, said Maj. Jose Hernandez, 205th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East, who represented the Army at the event.
"Having the ability to coach, mentor, and develop today's youth is something we shouldn't take lightly. We as parents, coaches and leaders must assist the youth to create processes to help them build attributes and life skills needed to be a successful adult," said Hernandez, whose father grew up in Puerto Rico and served in the military during the 1950's to support his family. "They are our future, our legacy. If we don't do it, who will?"
Hernandez joined bankers, law enforcement officers, restaurateurs, and others at the "College and Career Day" which was sponsored by La Plaza, a local non-profit organization that works to empower and integrate the Latino community of Central Indiana, in Indianapolis, Ind. The group spent the day talking to and introducing young adults to a variety of career paths.
German Gonzalez, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was a young child, said he is thinking about joining the Indiana National Guard and using the GI Bill to pay for college.
Gonzalez was excited to ask Hernandez, a logistics officer, about the education opportunities the military provides.
"I can't wait," Gonzalez said after speaking to Hernandez. "I'm excited by the opportunities the military will give me."
The military continues to be a positive opportunity for Hispanic youth, Hernandez said. From 1971 to 1989 the number of Hispanic officers in the U.S. Army increased from 1.4 percent to 1.9 percent. Since 1989, the number of Hispanic officers has increased to 6 percent.
"I'm proud to say that I am part of that percentage," said Hernandez, who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1991 as a fire directions specialist and received his commission in 2000. "As younger generations look around and see Hispanics in leadership positions, it provides a glimpse into possibilities. In this great nation, anyone can achieve his or her goals. The first step is setting attainable goals and second is never quitting until they are met," Hernandez said.
The "College and Career Day" event offered students and young adults a great opportunity to learn about a variety of careers and educational institutions, said Jennifer Hutchinson, the Mother-Daughter Program Coordinator at La Plaza. These types of events encourage young adults to further their studies and explore various career options, she explained.
"Having Maj. Hernandez attend the event was important, because it allowed students the chance to have candid conversations with a role model they could relate to. It is important for the youth we service to be able to visualize themselves in any possible career they may choose," Hutchinson said.
"Hernandez is a great role model; he is approachable and friendly -- the kids really liked him. He is also a great example of a person who pursued a career of service that gives back to the community, which is an important value that we strive to instill in our students."
Hernandez was grateful for the opportunity to participate and talk about the Army.
"Any opportunity to tell the Army's story is phenomenal," said Hernandez. "The military is a unique place that accepts individuals, provides individual and team development, and most depart as leaders. At which point, they can transfer the leadership skills learned to the civilian workforce."