By Russell ToofOctober 4, 2019
SEMBACH, Germany -- Sept. 15 - Oct. 15 is the national observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. Permanently put into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, the 30-day period recognizes the culture and contributions of American citizens of Hispanic origins coming from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
This year's theme is "Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving our Nation." As far back as the Revolutionary War, Hispanic men and women have participated in every major conflict in the Army's history.
"It is a very proud month in which we all have an opportunity to learn about our Hispanic heritage and our contributions to the nation," said Master Sgt. Carlos Dubon.
Dubon is currently the Regional Health Command Europe Senior Career Counselor. His job consists of counseling Soldiers and their families about the benefits of continued service and advising RHCE leadership about Army retention policies and procedures.
"I have a direct role in the Army's number one priority, which is people," he said.
"I was born and raised in Guatemala," he added. "Luckily, Germany is a country with access to music, food, arts, and religion that supports Hispanic heritage. One item in particular that makes me feel like I'm back in Guatemala is all the different festivals."
During Hispanic Heritage Month, the U.S. Army commemorates the long-standing and remarkable contributions that Hispanics have made in building and defending the nation.
One example of that is Col. Manuel Pozo-Alonso, originally from Zamora, Spain, who assumed command of Dental Health Command Europe earlier this year. His military career encompasses more than 29 years of service, including 12 years of active service in the U.S. Navy, five years in the Navy Ready Reserves, and 11 years in the U.S. Army.
"My whole family is still in Spain," says Pozo-Alonso. "Being in Germany means having the opportunity to visit my parents and siblings more often than I ever dreamed, spending quality time with them after being gone for so long, reconnecting with my roots and sharing the Spanish culture with all."
"Understanding different cultures makes us better informed, educated, well-rounded, worldly and ultimately stronger," he added.
Today, more than 142 thousand Hispanic Americans make up more than 14 percent of the Army's Total Force.
According to Pentagon officials, the Army understands the value and strength that an all-inclusive, diverse environment generates. To sustain a high-quality force that is trained and ready, the Army will continue to ensure that all Soldiers and civilians are given the opportunity to maximize their talents and potential and are treated with dignity and respect.