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War Costs | California Conference Information | Chairwoman Honored | Zuniga Retires | Veterans Scholarship |Sylvia-Freddy | Del Rio | Midyear KC | Sanchez Award | Beatrice Perez | News Continues | Gold Star Mothers | Previous News
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John Aleman, Lucian Adams Chapter recovering from surgery
American GI Forum of Texas Inc. Report: Houston Texas – John Aleman, long-time Forumeer and co-founder of the Houston Lucian Adams Chapter and also a founding member of the Latino Learning Center in Houston is recovering from Knee surgery. He is at the VA Hospital in Houston and has been undergoing therapy during his recovery. Lupe and I, with State Commander Martinez and Grace Hansen visited with John and Jeanie recently while we were on our Vacation. We were happy to have been able to spend some time with him and his wife Jeanie, who is always at his side.
Because of this John's surgery, he missed the AGIF State and National Conferences this summer. John had been scheduled for surgery during the State Conference and was in recovery during the National Conference. Jeanie, who has been a Women's State and National officer was also unable to attend. Those of you that know them know that both are very active in their community as well. John was recently awarded an AGIF Lifetime Achievement Award and has been honored many time by his community in Houston. John is a U.S. Air Force Veteran.
In talking to Jeanie recently, she said, “John is doing very well and has asked that I thank all of you who sent cards, flowers, e-mails and phone calls wishing him well. He is very thankful and grateful to those who visited and continue to do so– from both of us, Thank you for your thoughts good wishes and Prayers.”
We all wish John a speedy and complete recovery and hope to see him at our next conference which, by the way, is being hosted by the Lucian Adams Chapter and the Greater Houston Women’s Chapters of Houston. We are sure both he and Jeanie will be very much involved in planning and executing that conference. We will bring you update information on his status and the status of the conference.
National commander Angel Zuniga Request Help Locating Veteran's Family
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: Corpus Christi, Texas – and the American GI Forum of the US on behalf of Mr. Lucio Jimenez, Jr., Disabled Veteran, 1Bn 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Div Alpha Co, Vietnam Veteran 6-1967 to 6-1968 requests your assistance in locating the family of LCpl Rolando Hernandez from Corpus Christi, TX. Mr. Jimenez can be reached 503 997 9853 or contact Angel Zuniga, National Commander, AGIF-US at 361-563-9353. All information is highly appreciated.
Marine Lance Corporal Hernandez was a member of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division with Bravo Company. He was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Miguel Hernandez of Corpus Christi, Texas. LCPL Hernandez was born on September 26, 1946 and was killed in action on May 22, 1968 in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam when Bravo Company was attacked in an ambush in Con Thien. He had one month left of his tour at the time.
LCPL Hernandez was married to Janie Hernandez and had a daughter Lisa, who was only three and a half months old at the time of his death. He never had the chance to meet his daughter but was able to know her through photos sent by her mother. Rolando also had a young son Rolando Hernandez, Jr. from a previous marriage.
LCPL Hernandez received the Vietnam Military Merit Medal, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal. He earned the Bronze Star in the Con Thien ambush. The citation reads in part:
"Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Hernandez immediately maneuvered to a dangerous exposed position and directed intense suppressive fire up the enemy emplacement. With complete disregard for his own safety he fearlessly advanced toward hostile soldiers enabling his unit to evacuate casualties and deploy for an assault. He ignored enemy fire hitting around him and continued to deliver accurate fire against the enemy until he was killed."
At the time of his death, LCPL Hernandez was 21 years old.
Veterans Foundation Board of Directors and Memorial Staff
2015 California State Conference Honors the Greatest Generation WWII Veterans; Elect New Officers
American GI Forum of Texas Report: Whittier, CA – The California 2015 State Conference was a huge success, with outstanding speakers and the splendid food served by the catering service. The conference facility and charming decor organized by the El Camino Real Chapter and reflected the conference theme, "Tribute to the Greatest Generation WWII Veterans".
Thirty-five WWII Veterans were honored on Friday evening June 26th and the ceremony was a tear jerker seeing these 90 plus year old veterans being honored, some in their military garb, some who had never been honored before. Over two hundred people, families, and guests enjoyed the ceremony and a free dinner.
The conference agenda was strictly a veteran agenda and the panel speakers stuck to veteran issues. Health, PTSD, VA Benefits, Education, Homelessness, California Veterans Programs, Veterans Court.
Everyone in attendance were complementary on the conference and remarked that we had not had a conference like this on in a long long time.
The conference delegates voted to have a new slate of officers and elected the following State officers:
Mario Sanchez State Commander-
San Jose Chapter
Fred Romero. 1st Vice Commander
Alfred Garcia, 2nd Vice Commander
Howard Hernandez, State Secretary
City of Commerce Chapter
Alex Diaz, State Treasurer
Rudy Escalante Chapter (Santa Ana)
Greg Nichols, Sgt at Arms
San Jose Chapter
Isau Herrera, Chaplain
San Jose Chapter
There were 16 resolutions that were passed and will be forwarded to the National Conference in San Francisco later this month.
Past National Commander
Tribute To Greatest Generation WWII Veterans
2015 California State Conference hosted by El Camino Real Chapter
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: Whittier, CA – Jake Alarid, Commander of California GI Forum El Camino Real Chapter has announce that the State conference being hosted by his chapter will be held at the Whittier Community Center, 14181 Telegraph Rd, Whittier, Ca 90604 on Friday and Saturday, June 26-27, 2015.
The Chapter will play tribute to the Greatest Generation WWII Veterans. Members wishing to attend the Conference are urged to make room reservations at one of the Hotels listed on this site. Registration will be $130.00 for adult members and $110.00 for youth. Please make an effort to attend. We’ll see you there.
All information is listed below. If you have questions call Jake at (714) 714-1672 or E-mail at email@example.com.
The Cost of Wars Should Include Health Treatment for Returning Vets
By Jake Alarid, Past AGIF National Commander
America has seen millions of its young men and women go to war all over the world. They come home to their loved ones, sometimes greeted by parades pomp and ceremonies, and some have come home to a hostile environment. Some have come home with physical disabilities and some have come home with other types of disabilities.
This nation must understand and accept that the cost of war and even of peacekeeping. It’s not only the cost of the battlefield and logistics cost, but the cost of the war must also include post conflict costs for treatment and benefits earned by those who have participated on behalf of this nation, as members of the armed forces. Also, the health of children of veterans who suffer from health issues are related as casualties of that veterans injuries or sickness. They too must also be treated and recognized as an integral part of the cost of that war.
When we talk about veterans, we must also include our women veterans. Women in the military are equal in every respect to their male counterpart in the military and must be treated equally in every aspect, during active duty and later as veterans. There should be no distinction made in that respect.
Veterans appreciate the allocation of funds, by the Congress of the United States, to the Veterans Administration, but the management of those funds has not been managed properly, especially in the Veterans Health System. Veterans have died for lack of care; the waiting list for care at many Veteran Health Facilities is three times the time mandated by the VA Health System. Disability claims sometimes take over two years to be processed. Excessive bonuses are paid to Executives even in spite of the system mismanagement.
When a veteran is admitted to a VA Hospital the VA Health System is in place to take care of that veteran. When someone in the Armed Forces is discharged from military service, they have earned certain rights and benefits, which included health benefits; those benefits and services should always be available when a veteran is in need.
In our communities, much is said about healthcare, which is so vitally important to all of us, but at the same time treatment to veterans and the manner in which they are treated is equally important. We cannot diminish health care or our defense, which must maintain to remain diligently armed.
Recently the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) found some VA veteran real properties were being used for purposes other than for veterans’ wellness. They were properties that had been leased to private industries. In one such case the VA waived the revenues in an agreement with a non-profit totaling $250,000 in fiscal year 2012 alone. VA policy does not allow revenues to be waived. Meanwhile veterans are not allowed in that property, and to add salt to injury, the gates to that veterans’ property are kept locked to keep veterans out.
The cost of the Iraq War was in the trillions of dollars, money spent from taxpayers dollars, money spent for a foreign war, mostly because the government was more interested in politics and politicians’ welfare rather than in the welfare of the country. We still have an interest in that area, but we must learn how to deal with people that can be trusted rather than with people that may withhold vital information from our government, lying, stealing, only to later stab us in the back by using our own weapons against us and our allies.
Due to the Middle East War, the veteran population has grown in the past few years. The WWII Veteran population is a fast fading group of veterans. The Korea and Vietnam Veterans are now senior citizens, so the majority of today’s veterans are from the Middle East Wars (1990 to present).
Today’s modern wars are a different type of warfare than the preceding wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam). Given the new technology in warfare, there are differences in the types of injuries that are being experienced by the Armed Forces and the survival rate is higher. At the same time the new technology and advancement in the medical field has opened the door for new diagnosis of injuries and better-equipped hospitals to treat patients. The question now remains, why do we have all the problems at VA hospitals that have been recently surfaced or have been exposed?
As veterans come home to an uncertain future, it is up to each and every one of us to stand up and support all our veterans. It is inhumane to see our homeless brothers/sisters living in the streets. It is a tragedy to see our brothers/sisters committing suicide every day, and it is a disgrace to see that some of our brothers/sisters are not being given the proper and urgent treatment they deserve by the Veteran Hospitals.
To this end, I ask you to contact your Representatives and Senators and voice your concerns and opinion.
Past National Commander
American GI Forum of the U.S.
National Hispanic Heritage Month
Former National Chairwoman Honored by CITGO
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: (Corpus Christi, TX) To commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, CITGO selects leaders from the Community and honors them for their accomplishments.
"During National Hispnaic Heritage Month we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of local Hispanic and Latin Americans in our community."–CITGO
Patsy Vazquez Contes, immediate past National Chairwoman was selected as one of several honorees for her work with veterans and education. A large Ad appeared in the Corpus Christi Caller Times, and a copy sent to our State Office. We congratulate Mrs. Vazquez Contes for her work and her many accomplishments and on her selection as a Hispanic leader by CITGO during Hispanic Heritage Month. We are pleased to publish her on our Texas Web site.
Congratulations for 40 years of Service
National Commander Angel Zuniga joined the Air Force in 1971 and worked as an avionics technician before retiring in 1992. He will retire this year from his second career as an Army Environmental Protection Specialist in Texarkana and return to his home in Corpus Christi. He was recently honored along with others that have reached 30 or 40 years of public service. He is shown below with members of that elite group.
Commander Col. Brandon L. Grubbs and depot Sgt. Maj. Theodore C. Dallmann recognize team members reaching 35 and 40 years of dedicated service. Members reaching 35 years of service are: Helen Campbell and Rose Gauntt; reaching 40 years of service are: Ruby Gaddis, Sandra Moilanen, Alvin Pool, Jerry Shelton and Angel Zuniga.
American GI Forum Awards Scholarships to Veterans on the Anniversary of Founder's 100th Birthday
Beatrice Perez Women's Chapter
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc., Corpus Chrisiti, TX – Members of the American GI Forum State and National joined the Beatrice Perez Women’s Chapter as they celebrated the 100th anniversary of their founder’s birthday Friday January 17, 2014 with their Annual Veterans Scholarship Awards Ceremony. (Click for Photos)
The event hosted by Chapter Chairwoman Leslie Cristan was held at the Harold T. Branch Academy as National Chairwoman Patsy Vazquez-Contes performed the duties of Master of Ceremonies. Dr. Sonia Adriana Noyola, a social studies instructor for the Corpus Christi Independent School District keynoted the event. Ms. Wanda Garcia, daughter of Dr. Hector P. Garcia was also present as a speaker.
Four-one thousand dollar scholarships were award to four area Veterans. US Army Sgt. Guadalupe Chapa, Navy 2nd Class Petty Officer Fred Salinas, Marine Cpl. Andres Benavidez and Army Sgt Joe Ayala were the recipients of this year’s Veterans’ Awards. Ms. Emily Peña, a student at the Irma Rangel College of Pharmacy at Texas A&M, Kingsville received the Dr. Xico P. Garcia Memorial Scholarship of one thousand dollars.
Additionally the Graduating Class of the Academy each received Microsoft Surface Tablets. And the attendees received a Commemorative Calendar honoring the life and accomplishments of Dr. Hector P. Garcia.
Mr. Larry R. Elizondo, Sr., received a Special Community Achievement Award from the Beatrice Perez Chapter, presented by Ms Wanda Garcia. National Commander Luis Vazquez-Contes presented long-time Texas Region 1 Commander Richard Dominguez a Lifetime of Commitment Award. Mrs. Anita Dominguez accepted the award for the absent Commander Dominguez.
Funding for the scholarships and tablets came from Citgo, H-E-B and Wells Fargo. They received special Recognition Awards for their continued support of this AGIF Corpus Christi Program. Other sponsors recognized were Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Whataburger and Texas A&M University among others mentioned.
The large crowd in attendence included many local and statewide dignitaries as well as corporate leaders. State Senator Juan ‘Chuy’ Inojosa was among State Representatives, County Commissioners, Judges, City Council and American GI Forum National and State Leaders. National Commander Luis Vazquez-Contes, Vice Commander Carlos Rivera, National Chairwoman Patsy Vazquez-Contez, National and State Youth Chair Stephanie Lefthand, State Commander John Martinez, State Chairwoman Tina Olivares, State Executive Gil Rodriguez, State Legal Advisor Amador Garcia and local and commanders and chairs from state-wide area chapters.
Chairwoman Leslie Cristan, Beatrice Perez Women, her Chapter and National Chairwoman Patsy Vazquez Contes deserve much credit for an outstanding job and for the continuance of a great program.
San Marcos Forumeers Freddie and Sylvia Garza to Celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary in February
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc.: SAN MARCOS, Texas – Freddie M. Garza & Sylvia D. Nevares, now known and Freddie and Sylvia Garza were married on February 21, 1954. They were married at St. John’s Catholic Church in San Marcos and will be celebrating their 60th Anniversary later this month.
Sylvia is the Texas Women’s State Secretary, the Chairwoman of the San Marcos Sgt. Nevares Memorial Women’s Chapter and past Chairwoman of AGIF Texas Central Region. Freddie is the Treasurer of the San Marcos Forum, founded second only to the Founder’s Chapter in Corpus Christi.
Mr. and Mrs. Garza have 4 daughters, Bobbie Garza-Hernandez, Gail Gonzales, Dottie Fedro and Mandy Carreno. The also have 1 son, Freddie Garza Jr. They are both natives of San Marcos and long-time members of the American GI Forum.
Congratulations to these two wonderful people and may they celebrate many more.
AGIF Dr. Fermin Calderon Del Rio Chapter Scholarship Winners
Smiling students hold up the checks they received from the American G.I Forum Dr. Fermin Calderon Chapter at a recent ceremony. Commander Joe Martinez and Ladies Chair Tina Martinez presented the scholarships of $500 each to 26 graduates of Del Rio High School and Radiance Academy. A total of $13,000 were awarded.
The 26 students who won the scholarships are Amy Adams, Gilberto Arizpe, Audri Arreola, Audrea Calderon, Fermin David Calderon, Hector Cesar Calderon, Jose Adrian Calderon, Sheila Corcino (Radiance Academy), Ariel Cordova, Lisa Y. Diaz, Clarissa M. Faz, Rosendo H. Franco, Katia Garza, Kelsey Green, Cristela Hernandez, Sara Howard, Yesmenia Meza, Grecia Montemayor, Crystal Padilla, Asiris G. Rodriguez, Andrea M. Urueta, Oscar Valdez, Carolina Vaquera, Zachary A. Vasquez, Michael Westlake and Kaitlin Witt. Not all the winners were present for the group photograph at the presentation ceremony
Texas Members at Mid-Year Conference in Kansas City, MO, March 21 – 23, 2013
The 2013 American GI Forum (AGIF) National Mid-Year Conference was held in North Kansas City Harrah’s Missouri. The conference started on Thursday, March 21 and concluded on Saturday, March 23, 2013. Texas was well represented with over 20 Texas members attending. Thank you for supporting your State!!
After the opening gavel business began with various reports such: NE 2012 Conference; HEF Board meeting (Scholarship information); NVOP Board meeting; Commander’s and Women’s reports; Updates on National Issues; Discussion on HACR and NHLA; and Update on the CO 2013 National Conference with appointment of Committee Chairs; Also discussed the possibility of corporations becoming affinity members.
A major topic and concern was the REORGANIZATION as recommended by National Commander Albert Gonzalez. His recommendation to set up Committees with individuals designed to study and make recommendations to the AGIF National Conference on issues such as By-Law revisions; a Business Plan with long and short terms goals and objectives; ways to increase fund raising; a National recruitment and retention Plan; an Executive Director search committee; development of National Veterans Programs with a proposal and planning Committee; formulation of a communications committees; a nominations committee; all devise ideas, directions to stimulate the organization.
I will serve on the Business Plan Committee and State Chairwoman Tina Olivares will sit on the Constitution committee. I will be directing some of our committee duties to our members for suggestions and assistance. Remember we are a TEAM (Together Everybody Achieves More).
Vice-Commander Ceasar Ruiz authored and submitted the only resolution to the assembly. It defines our position in the Order of Precedence to the new Distinguished Warfare Metal (DWM) created by Congress to recognize the contributions by cyber pilots. The assembly passed it and will now become our official position on the issue. It will be forwarded to Congress and the Department of Defense. If you would like to receive a copy via email of this much controversial subject, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon conclusion of the meeting, because of the weather, we cautioned each other to drive safely going home. The Kansas City area was on alert about a severe snowstorm named Virgil coming from the East, predicting about 5 inches of snow. National Vice Commander Angel Zuniga, and I departed from the hotel about 7 am Sunday morning. We were in the middle of the storm unaware of the impact and how treacherous the storm was. In over 2 hours traveling under 50 mph we witnessed many stranded vehicles including a snow plow, realizing that the 5 inch snow was more like a foot or more. Nevertheless, we endured the obstacles and arrived home safely.
Thank you for all of your SUPPORT and hope to hear from you!
Texas State Commander
Forumeer Bob Sanchez selected to receive the NACCS TEJAS - PREMIO ESTRELLA DE AZTLAN Lifetime Achievement Award
Mr. Bob Sanchez is an American GI Forum Charter member and a past State and National Legal Advisor. In the early days of the AGIF in Texas, Bob was an AGIF pioneer who helped mold the American GI Forum. An advocate for Education and Civil Rights, Bob was selected by our founder to lead the fight in south Texas, to get voters out by helping them pay their poll tax, and later to eliminate this unfair tax that kept us and other minorities from the ballot boxes. He was a close friend of Dr Hector P. Garcia and the Garcia family.
Sanchez, has been a member of the AGIF for over 60 years and as an attorney and WWII Veteran he has been an active member of his community. Recently was asked and headed a committee responsible for updates and revision of the AGIF National Constitution. He has been honored many times for his work with the American GI Forum, his community and has now been selected to receive the NACCS TEJAS - PREMIO ESTRELLA DE AZTLAN Lifetime Achievement Award. The American GI Forum is proud to have a member receive such a distinguished award from an Educational Institution. He will be honored on February 22, 2013 at the University of Texas- Pan Am, 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
“Congratulations (Bob) on your selection for this award. This award could not go to a more deserving individual. It has been my privilege to have to have worked with you on issues as they relate to the constitution of the AGIF-US. Know, that many of your AGIF-US family wishes they could be there with you to applaud your accomplishments. Again, congratulations and I look forward to seeing you in the near future.” --Albert Gonzales, AGIF-US National Commander.
"I am proud to be commander in Texas with such distinguished and honorable members. It is an honor for all of us to have Bob Sanchez honored with such distinction." --John Martinez, State Commander, American GI Rorum of Texas, Inc.
The Beatrice T. Perez Robstown Women’s Chapter & the Corpus Christi Dr. Hector P. Garcia Founding Chapter Award Veterans Scholarships
The American GI Forum (AGIF), Beatrice T. Perez Robstown Women’s Chapter Chairwoman Leslie E. Cristan and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Founder’s Chapter Commander Ron Garza hosted the Annual Scholarship Reception on Thursday, January 17, 2013 . Patsy Vazquez Contes was the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies. Corpus Christi Assistant Police Chief Jesse Garcia was the Keynote speaker.
The event was attended by State Commander John Martinez and Board members: 1st Vice Commander Ceasar Ruiz, Austin; 2nd Vice Commander Howdy Leal, Port Lavaca; State Secretary Paul Herrera, Austin; State Executive secretary-Treasurer Gil Rodriguez; State Chairwoman Tina Olivares, Coastal Bend; State Legal Advisor Amador Garcia, Corpus Christi, and Region 6 Commander Richard Dominguez, Rockport. Other chapters present were Richard Roco Forum, Felix Longoria Forum, Robstown Forum, Coastal Bend Women, Beatriz Perez Women, and Rockport Women. A special guest, Colorado State Commander Luis Vazquez Contes was in attendance.
This annual event celebrates Dr. Hector’s profound statement and AGIF Moto, “Education is our Freedom and Freedom should be Everybody’s Business.” Three (3) $1,000 scholarships were awarded to 3 deserving veteran reciepients; SPC/E-4 Jose Ayala, SSGT/E-6 Amando Vidal, Jr. and PFC/E-3 James Green. Repients' essays were read by District Judge Tom Greenwell, Fire Chief Robert Rocha and Commission Joe ‘JAG’ Gonzales. A special recognition award was presented to HEB, sponsor of the event by State Commander John Martinez . This annual event falls on the anniversary of Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s birthday January 17. A special souvenir booklet was available to all attendees. State Commander Martinez and State Chairwoman Tina Olivares presented Martin Middle School with a $200 grant. Wells Fargo Bank presented the Student with Backpacks with a Hands on banking CD that will help them with Financial Education. Money skills needed for life. â€¨Along with that was a budget kit, a place to keep receipts, and a calculator and pen. All the tools to help keep finances in order. There is a lot of good resource information in the CD’s.
This Annual Event began 1996 by Dr. Xico P. Garcia, to continue honoring his brother and the legacy of an American hero, Dr. Hector P. Garcia. Today, this event also pays tribute to Dr. Xico P. Garcia, who has also passed away.
“I am proud of the participation of so many AGIF members and State Executive Board members in attendance. These are the type of events that keeps our communities aware of the work that the American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. provides,” commended Commander Martinez, “This was a very successful event on the anniversary of the birth of our founder and in the city where the American GI Forum was born 65 years ago.” See More Photos
The American GI Forum - Paso del Norte Elects Their 2013 Board
The American GI Forum - Paso del Norte membership held their annual election of officers for 2013 followed later with their installation of Officers on Saturday, January 12, 2013. The photo shows (produced by Don Williams, AGIF friend and future member) the newly elected officers at the Installation Ceremony. Judge Mike Herrera, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, swore in the new officers in with the AGIF Officers' Oath. The members also renewed their allegiance and commitment with the Members' Oath.
New officers for American GI Forum - Paso del Norte are Left to right: Porfirio Montoya, Sergeant At Arms; David Nevarez, Vice Commander; Robert Rivera, Commander; Julio Gutierrez, Secretary; Edward Fleming, Treasurer; Jorge Alberto Armendariz, Chaplain "Sky Pilot".
Congratulations to our 2013 American GI Forum - Paso del Norte leadership team. And thanks to all their members for all the work done for the El Paso Community by American GI Forum - Paso del Norte. Keep up the good work!
Thank You for Your Service, Commander Perez
WACO, Texas – Commander Larry Perez chose to step down as State Commander last June. Our new Commander John Martinez, Houston, members of the Board, and the members of the American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. give Larry a much-deserved “Thanks!” Larry served during a most difficult time, but his spirit and never give-up spirit lead us through many tough situations both State and Nationally. He kept the members informed through the State Office while the organization continued to prosper. It was a very busy 2 years but he and the members of the Board worked diligently on changes needed to improve the organization.
State Commander Larry Perez together with his elected Board members earned the respect of members, not only in Texas but Nation-wide for their tireless work on our behalf. We sincerely want to thank Commander Larry Perez, his wife and family for their service to the American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. We shall not forget you
San Marcos Events Add to Their Scholarship Fund
San Marcos, Texas – Chapter Commander Celestino Mendez and San Marcos Women’s Chair Sylvia Garza each headed events that benefited their on-going Scholarship Programs. A Golf Tournament on July 4th Benefited the San Marcos Forum’s Fund while the women had a food booth during the same day to increase their scholarship program at the San Marcos Grand 4th of July Celebration.
A Flea Market Event and a State Board Meeting in February are on their schedule. See San Marcos photos.
Austin Commander Receives VSO Training, Austin Members Participate in Tejano Parade
Austin Chapter Commander Phillip Gutierres was invited, as a AGIF member, and participated at the Texas-Veterans Commission Veteran Services Officer Initial Training, September 18-21, 2012 in Dallas Texas. The 3-day instructional classes included Principals, Accreditation, POA Privacy, Claims Recognition, Character of Discharge, Claims Movement, Service Records, Medical Terminology, Service Records, Exam Thresholds, VCAA Duty to Assist, Rating Disabilities, Effective Date vs. Payment Date, Due Process, Appeals Process and Legislative Up-dates. Commander Gutierres passed with a 100% score on the final test.
This qualifies him for a class scheduled in 6 months that would give him a Veteran Services Officer Certification. A subsequent to the VSO Certification, 6 months after, will be the final training for the VSO Accreditation. The AGIF presently does not have an Accredited VSO. Sponsored by the AGIF of Texas, Inc., Phillip attended at his own expense.
In another event in Austin, members of the Austin Chapter participated in a parade preceding the unveiling of the Tejano Monument on the grounds of the State Capitol. The Monument commemorates the role important early Hispanic pioneers of Texas, Spanish and Mexicans, played in the early days of Texas History. The AGIF of Austin produced a poster with the image of the Founder, Dr. Hector P. Garcia that was posted on the parade cars of Ms. Wanda Daisy Garcia, daughter of the founder, 1st Vice Commander Ceasar Ruiz and State Past Commander Paul Herrera. See Austin photos.
Houston Lucian Adams Chapter Commander Honored; Members in Fiestas Patrias Parade
On Saturday, May 19, 2012 at the J.W. Marriott Galleria Area in Houston Texas, Cpl Richard Perez (Retired) was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his heroic act during the Vietnam War. The celebration occurred at the 2012 Armed Forces Day Military Ball presented by the United States Marine Corps and the Houston Military Affairs Committee. Lieutenant General Steven A. Hummer, Commander, Marine Forces Reserve; and Commander, Marine Forces North pinned Richard’s Bronze Star along with Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, Congressman Ted Poe, and Amb. Suk-bum Park, Consul-General of the Republic of Korea. Also present were Richard’s wife Betty, members of his family and the American GI Forum past National Commander Antonio Gil Morales and his wife, past State Chairwoman Guillerma.
Another Houston Celebration! Members from the Lucian Adams Chapter of the American GI Forum in Houston participated in Houston’s Fiestas Patrias Annual Parade. State Commander John Martinez and Region Chair Grace Hansen joined in the festivities, which included a breakfast. See Houston photos.
Waco Holds Annual Golf Tourney; Honors Dr. Garcia
The American GI Forum McLennan County Chapter had their 2nd Annual Scholarship golf Touornament on September 8, 2012 at the Battle Lake Golf Course. It was an 8:00 am shotgun start, a $70.00 fee which included breakfast tacos, coffee and a complete meal afterward the Tournament was a great Deal.
Jimmy Duarte and Sharon Manchego chaired the event which awarded 1st, Second and 3rd prizes. They had a $500.00 hole-in-one Certificate for a lucky winnner, but not this time. There was also a raffle during the Awards Cermony. Many of the attendeed did not go home empty-handed.
The State office and State Board were represented by State Commander John Martinez, Gil Rodriguez and Past State Commander Paul Herrera as well as Region Chair Grace Hensen from Houston. National Vice-Commander Angel Zuniga represented the National Board. The event was well attended and participants enjoyed the Event.
Betty Manchego also send a us reminder that they would be celebrating Dr. Hector P. Garcia Day of Remembrance. “ TO REMEMBER IS TO HONOR” was the theme of a Lucheon held on September 19, 2012 at the Tres Mexicans Restaurant on South 6th Street in Waco. Members of the American GI Forum as well as Community members were in attendence.
GI’s Fight to Reopen GI Forum Port Lavaca Chapter
By Peter Moralez
“If it wasn’t for Justo “Howdy” Leal’s willingness to fight to reopen the Port Lavaca Chapter of the American GI Forum, I don’t think that we would be today,” Commander ‘Ed Rendon. “I feel owe a great debt of gratitude to Howdy for his diligence.”
In 2004, when the Port Lavaca Chapter reopened, it was renamed to commemorate ‘ Leal and his determination.
“His name is emblazoned on the building and he will forever be linked to our Chapter,” Rendon said. “And rightly so.”
Leal, who is also a Second Commander of the American GI Forum, Texas Chapter, is no stranger to the good fight. He is a veteran of the United States Army. He served honorably in Vietnam where he earned several decorations, including the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the National Defense Ribbon, the Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal with Three Stars.
“This has been a great honor to have my fellow veterans rename our local chapter after me, but I’m not really sure if I earned such a distinction,” Leal said. “All I set out to do was to insure that there was a place, here in Port Lavaca, where veterans could come together to celebrate our service to the United States, on holidays like Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, as well as a place where we could share in our camaraderie.”
The American GI Forum (AGIF), which celebrated 60 years of service in 2008, is dedicated to addressing problems of discrimination and inequities endured by Hispanic Veterans, Doctor Hector P. Garcia originally formed the AGIF in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1048. Through the efforts of its early leadership, the AGIF has grown to other states, and has chapters throughout the U.S.
Though predominantly Hispanic, the AGIF is a fully interracial U.S. veterans and family organization.
“With respect to the Port Lavaca Chapter, we have about 70 members,” Rendon said. “In addition, we have about a 20 member women’s auxiliary, headed by Chairwoman Gloria Ochoa. Our members have served honorably in World War U, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the Gulf War.”
According, to their charter, the AGIF has been in the forefront in “civil rights struggles, the desegregation of schools, voter registration, fair judicial proceedings, and combat media stereotyping and distortions.
“Our objectives are to promote education by providing information and motivation by providing AGIF scholarships,” Rendon said. “Annually, we provide ten $500 awards to local students.” He added that the awards are based on both academic accomplishment and need, and are handed out at the rate of $250 per semester.
One of the other key objectives for the AGIF, at the state and national level, “Is to lobby for legislation that is favorable to improve the lives of our veterans,” said Leal. “I have been associated with the AGIF for over thirty years, and I started lobbying on behalf of my fellow veterans when Greg Laughlin was our congressman. In fact, I recall working with Emett Alvarez who was, at that time, one of the deputy district directors for the congressman.”
One of the ways that the AGIF, Howdy Leal Chapter, is able to raise funding for their projects is through promoting their weekly bingo events said Rendon.
Every Tuesday night from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. we open our doors to bingo,” he said. “We give out in excess of $1,500 to winners, and the weekly event is open to the public. We also offer food, and beer and non-alcoholic refreshments. So be sure to come out to join us, and. know that whatever you spend’ will go to the benefit of a great cause.”
The AGIF, Howdy Leal Chapter, is located at 2738 W. Main Street in Port Lavaca. West Main Street is also U.S. Highway 87. If you have any questions call 361.218.5128