Spc. Sebastian Olvera serves as Public Health Specialist for U. S. Army Health Clinic. He is responsible for conducting preemptive medicine inventories, inspections and surveys. He is also responsible to ensure sanitary conditions are maintained in food storage and preparation, and that industrial hygiene is well maintained at U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
Olvera is a Hispanic American, born in Toluca, Mexico, a small town on the outskirts of Mexico City. Growing up in Mexico gave him the opportunity to live close to an extended family rich in the culture of a nation passionately proud of its history.
He has easy confidence in the way he moves, raises a hand to greet one with a handshake, and a bright, welcoming smile that is animated with the vitality of youth. His instant, easy-going friendship is relaxed and contagious. He is a natural storyteller.
"In Mexico, where I grew up, it was a place that most people might call poor. But for me, it was an absolutely perfect place. I loved having my aunts, uncles and cousins near. There was always someone nearby to share an adventure or to just hang out with and have fun," he said. "I love every bit of it, still."
As he grew older, Olvera's father left for the United States in search for better job opportunities to benefit his family. He worked long hours in the tree business. After a time, although it was hard for the family to leave their beloved Mexico, his family joined him in Painesville, Ohio. For Olvera it meant meeting new friends and learning new customs.
As he learned more about his new community, he became an eager learner. New opportunities seem to appear every time he turned a corner. "I especially loved high school, I can easily say it was the best time of my life," he said.
To help with his school expenses, he worked with his Uncle Salbino in a family-based business, "basically a taco shop," Olvera admits, "But, an incredibly good taco shop."
The shop gave his family a foundation, added value to the community and made it easier for his family get to know their neighbors and build new friendships.
"Eventually, the neighborhood began to feel like an extended family, even for my mother who had found leaving Mexico so difficult," he said.
After high school, he began to look for opportunities that would further his education. "That's when the Army really caught my eye. I felt it was the best way to help me secure my future."
Becoming a Soldier also helped Olvera fulfill a deep commitment he felt to assist his family. It's not easy to miss the pride and satisfaction in his expression, his head high, his voice warmed by emotion as he talks about contributing to the family finances.
"Joining the Army helped me with a steady pay check. I was able to send money home to assist with my families' expenses. It makes me feel good to honor them this way. I love my family, they will always come first."
Olvera now has a second heritage, one he whole-heartily acknowledges with pride as a member of America's Armed Forces.
"I am proud to be a Soldier. I love working at the clinic. I love learning new duties and gaining more experience. I enjoy serving in this community and the benefits that help my family to move forward," he said avidly.
Olvera is quick to credit Master Sgt. Russell Kruse, the Non-commissioned officer in charge of the Health Clinic team, as paving the way for its Soldiers to work well together.
"Master Sgt. Kruse makes it simple for us to get to know and support one another," Olvera adds. It is an easy declaration of a man who has come to trusts his leader.
For Hispanic Heritage Month, Kruse held an observance with a casual dinner and a movie at the golf shack on post. For Olvera, it was an effortless way to become more familiar with his team members. He said that each member must work collectively to ensure the best possible service is provided to the Dugway community. This pride is noticeable in all the clinic's Soldiers.
"I like that I can share my background. I am proud of my Mexican heritage, my culture, my parents, grandparents and my extended family."
Olvera has recently enrolled in college. This fall, he will begin to pursue courses with the hope of becoming a veterinarian, a dream that was cultivated in his grandmother's garden as a boy.
"I like the way the Army makes me feel about myself. I feel proud as a Hispanic American, proud to be a Soldier. I feel confident to move forward with my goals."