WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 30, 2014) -- Hispanic Americans have made incredible contributions to the nation, and the Army is giving them special recognition during National Hispanic Heritage Month, an Army spokeswoman said.

"The Army is committed to building a strong, long-lasting relationship with the Hispanic community," said Mari Monserrate, Hispanic outreach liaison for the Army's Office of the Chief of Public Affairs.

The outreach efforts are especially significant during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, she said.

The endeavor has personal meaning for Monserrate, who developed the Hispanic outreach program "from the ground up" in the two years since she has been in the position.

"It's my passion to work with the Hispanic community," the Puerto Rico native said. "It's my cultural background, so I have a personal connection, not only to the Army force of Hispanic heritage, but also to the Hispanic community nationwide."

There are commemorations, award ceremonies and other events throughout the nation that the Army is participating in to honor the service and sacrifice of Hispanic Americans.

The Army is also highlighting the service and sacrifice of 17 recent Medal of Honor recipients, who are of Hispanic heritage. The 17 were part of the "Valor 24" who received Medals of Honor in March, decades after the valorous acts, dating as far back as World War II.

"To continue to showcase the dedication that they gave to the Army and to this nation, we will be doing a social media campaign on Twitter," Monserrate said. "We're posting the stories of those 17 Soldiers -- 15 of them who gave their lives to the protection of our nation."

The tweets, she noted, will appear on the Army's account, @USArmy, during the month.

The Army maintains a webpage called Hispanic Heritage in the U.S. Army, which can be found at www.army.mil/hispanicamericans. The site includes historical information, links to resources, and showcases the service of Army personnel of Hispanic heritage.

Now and throughout the entire year the Army is committed to communicating with and engaging with the Hispanic community, and recognizing their service and sacrifice, she said.

"It's very important that we include Hispanic outreach in everything that we do, and there are many ways to do that," she said.

For example, she said, the Jazz Ambassadors of the U.S. Army Field Band recently played three concerts in Miami, and included music from Latin American composers, she said.

During the concert, band members talked about "the Army profession and what it's about and what you can do being in the Army and how you can contribute to your community and the nation by being part of the Army," she said.

The latest figures show that about 12 percent of the active Army is of Hispanic heritage, she said.

"That number has been growing steadily, since 2008," Monserrate said. "What we want to do is have that number continue to grow."

In a tri-signed letter marking National Hispanic Heritage Month, Army leaders said the vision and determination of Hispanic Americans have "transformed our nation."

Americans of Hispanic heritage have made "immeasurable contributions" to the Army and the nation with their service and sacrifice, wrote Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.

More than 40 Medal of Honor recipients are of Hispanic heritage, they noted.

"Hispanic Americans represent our military with deep, abiding patriotism and heroism and continue to make a difference through their dedicated and professional public and military service," the tri-signed letter reads.

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