KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Sept. 15th marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, commemorating the contributions and sacrifices that Hispanic Americans have made in building and defending our nation.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Feliciano-Silva, a native of San German, Puerto Rico, is a Hispanic American currently serves as the battalion senior supply sergeant, Special Troops Battalion, 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
“Growing up in Puerto Rico was very challenging,” said Feliciano. “It isn’t very economically sustainable, and a lot of people seek the outside to better themselves or try to find a better way of life for their families.”
Feliciano was born into a military family. His father, a retired Soldier, served in the U.S. Army for 23 years, and was one of the biggest motivators behind Feliciano’s decision to join the Army.
“The biggest motivation was really having that person in the family that is a service member,” said Feliciano. “My dad would tell me all these stories about how it was during his deployments or the places he visited and all the positive things he recommended about the military.”
Hearing his father’s advice gave Feliciano the same idea and he thought to himself, “Hey, maybe I want to try it and see how it goes.”
After enlisting at the age of 18, Feliciano struggled and faced challenges in the initial years of his career. His transition into this new environment meant leaving behind his family and everything he knew, while he continued to learn the English language.
“In the beginning, I didn’t know too much English; I just knew the basics to survive, and it was challenging,” said Feliciano. “I would just be looking at people like, what are you talking about? What is that?”
Through it all, Feliciano says his fellow Soldiers and leaders always made sure he was taken care of.
“My first duty station was Fort Campbell, Kentucky and they always took care of me, 100%. They always had my back,” said Feliciano.
He goes on to say that Hispanic Heritage Month only further highlights the overwhelming support he and his fellow Soldiers receive.
“I know a few friends that have struggled with English after 10 years in service,” said Feliciano. But they’ve made it so far because the support that we get here is really good.”
Ten years later, Feliciano extended in Germany for another three years and re-enlisted indefinitely to stay in the Army. He states one of his main goals is to finish his master’s degree in sports nutrition and return to Puerto Rico after he retires.
“I would love to buy a house and live in Puerto Rico with my family. The one thing my father always told me was, “You might be in the military, but never forget about your family.””, said Feliciano. “That’s one thing I always encourage people to keep in mind. Don’t forget where you come from; I’m going to do my best, then go back to my family.”