As the chief of the Client Services Division in the Army Public Health Center's Laboratory Sciences Portfolio, Lt. Col. Jose M. Pizarro Matos often thinks of "diversity" in a technical way when he examines the various chemical and biological samples that are sent to his lab to determine their effect on Soldier health.

But Pizarro Matos discussed "diversity" in more general terms when he served as the guest speaker for a Hispanic American Heritage Month celebration hosted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense Sept. 23.

Hispanic American Heritage Month is celebrated annually between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, and the theme of the USAMRICD event was "Energizing Our Nation's Diversity." Pizarro Matos discussed the roles that Hispanics play in American culture, including such areas as government, science and the entertainment industry.

As he stood in USAMRICD's new state-of-the-art building at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Pizarro Matos emphasized the contributions that Hispanics have made to the U.S. armed forces.
"Hispanics make up about 16 percent of the Army civilian workforce, and about 13 percent of the active-duty Army population," said Pizarro Matos.

The Army scientist, who was born in Puerto Rico, also described aspects of his childhood and his decision to join the Army. He also shared that military service was a tradition in his family, noting that his sister and brother-in-law also served in the Army.

During the event, attendees from USAMRICD and APHC, heard excerpts from Barack Obama's Presidential Proclamation on National Hispanic Heritage Month, asking Americans to renew their commitment "to honoring the invaluable ways Hispanics contribute to our common goals, to celebrating Hispanic culture and to working toward a stronger, more inclusive and more prosperous society for all."

The attendees were also invited to participate in a dance session where they learned how to perform dance moves from the Hispanic American tradition.

Finally, the event concluded by allowing participants to sample various dishes from the Hispanic American cuisine.

Col. Roman Bilynsky, USAMRICD commander, presented a certificate of appreciation to Pizarro Matos for his role in making the event a success. Participants said that Pizarro Matos' message of inclusion teaches an important lesson.

"I wanted people to understand that our diversity is what makes us stronger," said Pizarro Matos. "We should accept people, no matter where they come from."