Jose C. Pizarro, Columnist

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October 2019 Issue

3rd Annual Latino Veterans 8K was a huge success, thanks to the over 200 wonderful people who participated & supported the race!
The annual “Memorial Veteran” selected was Army Veteran José Pizarro (no relation to Jose C. Pizarro);  “Agency of Honor” Award went to the RWB (Red, White & Blue) runners club;  and the “Honor A Veteran” Award,  went to John Ponce, for the second (2nd) year in a row.
“Thank you” to the following individuals and organizations that made the 2019 event possible:
Chef Al and Flee Marie Cruz – Food;   Enrique DjMerge Rosado Jr. – Music;  Jeni Arroyo – National Anthem;  Hector M. Pagan – Photos
Volunteers: M&T Bank, Key Bank, Northwest Bank, Hispanic’s Women’s League,  WNY Hispanic Veterans,  LAMA
Finally, special thanks to the amazing sponsors and supporters: Hispanic United of Buffalo, NYS Troopers, PRCCJ, El Museo, Finish Line, Royal Printing, Buffalo Latino Village, William Rodriguez, Erie County, and the African Cultural Center.
A special shout out to the Latino Veterans 8K Committee: Jose’ C. Pizarro, Roque Pizarro, Stephanie Garcia, David Rivera, Jacob Puff, Mark Manthei, Nadia Pizarro, Eva Gonzalez, Antonio Pizarro, Alberto O. Cappas, Demaris Rivera, and Jaques Garcia.
Please note that monies raised from this annual event is earmarked for: Cost of the Event,  Scholarship Program, and the Latino Veterans Museum Project.
For information on how you can get involved with the Veteran organizations, how to volunteer, become a member, or interested in contributing or to donate funds, please contact:
Jose C. Pizarro, founder  and executive director: Email:  Tel. 716-207-1883.



August 2019 Issue

 As a member of the Latino Veterans of Buffalo & western New York, one of our goals is to develop a local Latino museum. This museum will house various items such as pictures, articles of uniform, awards and stories that tell the story of the history of Latinos in the United States Military – our contributions and sacrifices.  It will be a museum dedicated to the history, contribution, and memory of our Puerto Rican/Latino Soldiers.
For example, some of the historic information one will find in the Buffalo Latino Museum:
Research articles; there is a long history of Puerto Ricans serving the United States Military since 1889, and very little is known, especially in Buffalo, NY.  In an article by Shannon Collins in the DoD News (Defense Media Activity), he writes that “Puerto Ricans fought in the Revolutionary war of 1779 and helped capture cities such as Baton Rouge Alabama, Pensacola, Florida.”
Did you know that Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. under the 1998 Treaty of Paris, making Puerto Rico a United State territory?
Did you know that the Army National Guard formed the first Porto Rico Regiment on the Island on March 2, 1917, and thanks to the Jones -Shafroth Act, which gave Puerto Rico U.S. citizenship by birth, though they aren’t allowed, and still are not allowed, to vote for the U.S Presidency.
Since then, Puerto have been actively involved in fighting all the major wars.  In 1917, it is reported that 236,00 Puerto Rican registered and close to 20,00 served in World War I, and did you know that Puerto Ricans had to go all the way to New York in order to enlist.
In World War II, over 60,000 Puerto Ricans served, many giving their lives for the United States flag, and   In the Korean War 61,000 Puerto Ricans served, also, many sacrificing their lives.
The most noted and highly decorated Puerto Rican military group, the 65th infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, 100% Puerto Ricans, were the only segregated unit to fight in every global war of the 20th century.  For their valiant effort, President Obama awarded them the Congressional Gold Medal.
In addition, Puerto Ricans also fought in Viet Nam and in the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
A Puerto Rican/Latino museum, located in Buffalo, NY, will maintain the valiant history of our Latino Soldiers who risked their lives for the freedom we are privileged to enjoy today.



July Issue 2019

Post-traumatic Stress disorder, known as PTSD, is a mental health disorder that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event like combat, a natural disaster, or a sexual assault.
According to the National Center on PTSD, 12% to 15% of veterans a year, experience PTSD from the Gulf and Viet Nam wars.  From speaking to other veterans, these stats don’t list many veterans who do not seek help to address their PTSD. One of the reasons for not reporting it is personal embarrassment of having a mental problem.  Other reasons listed, are, a long waiting time to be considered for rendered benefits, the stigma of having a mental health problem, and finally, being looked at as weak.
A quote from one vet, “I was awarded a silver star for bravery, you’re not going to call me a coward if somebody like me has PTSD? Then anybody can have it.”
Also, even a high ranked Military General retired after admitting he had PTSD.
In my research for this article, I also found a colleague with PTSD.  He told me the military makes it difficult to get diagnosed for PTSD for two reasons. One is Combat related, which is when you are affected directly from combat; the other is assessing what the combat has done to soldiers from in-direct combat.  An example is experiencing a jeep blow up right before you. On occasions, the military personnel question the vet’s sincerity about PTSD, therefore, some don’t “waste their time” to report it.
The veteran nightmare and trauma experience are unwelcomed memories. The reality or experience of combat triggers or sets into motion PTSD. Any minor thing can set PTSD, like noises or war related events.
PTSD is a severe mental disorder, and it must be taken more seriously. If not addressed in a timely fashion, PTSD will tear away all emotional numbness if one doesn’t learn to unlock or control the combat experience.
If handled properly by the military, suicide would go down. About twenty-five veterans commit suicide every day, many are turned down for observation, or they face a bureaucratic wall to get the service and benefits they so rightly deserve.
It is a damn share how the United States of America treat its veterans, soldiers that went over sea to defend you and me. They come home and are treated like third-class citizens. They get a “thank you” with an empty salute. They are deprived of their deserving benefits. They paid their dues!
The veterans are left alone, alone to battle with the nightmare of living with a disorder they will struggle with the rest of their life. The country they went to defend, has divorced themselves from this problem. We need to do more. The suicide rate continue to grow. More to come.



June 2019 Issue

I am the new editor for Latino Veteran affairs, addressing  related issues, as well as your new Latino Veterans columnist. I’ve been a long-time resident of Buffalo, NY, and a member of the Buffalo Latino Veterans. I write this column on their behalf, and on behalf of all Puerto Rican/Latino Veterans. I hope I do you guys proud. Here is my column:
The country recently celebrated the Memorial Day, honoring our fallen military heroes and those who have served and are serving our country today. Unfortunately – to many – Memorial Day is just another day off, a long weekend to enjoy a family barbecue. On the bright spot, we do have some communities that do honor our fallen heroes with a parade down main street. I wish there were more!
As a Vietnam era veteran, I can remember when it was not popular to be serving in the military.  It was a time where our country was in real turmoil.  Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.  The civil rights and anti-war movement were at its highest peak. Military members or soldiers were called baby killers and warmongers.
Whenever I went on leave, I made it a point to use a student ID card to fly as a student, and in that way, I didn’t have to wear my military uniform.  Looking back, this was not an honorable decision, since both my older brothers served one year in Nam.
Many of our soldiers who were discharged back to society, coming back home, were discharged without any mental preparation to deal with the after-effects of participating in a war where they experienced  or watched their buddies get severely maimed or die in their arms. Many resorted to drugs and alcohol. Many were also diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome known as PTSD.
Today our Veterans are greeted warmly and appreciated for their service. At the Yankees games, at the bottom of the 7th inning, “God bless America” is played and a Veteran from various wars is brought down onto the field and recognized for their service to their country.
PTSD, drug and alcohol problems are now addressed with less of a stigma than in the past. Mental health issues are being taken seriously as the suicide rate of our Veterans have reached an all-time high.  Joining the national guard was kind of frowned upon and labeled weekend warriors in the past.  Presently the guard serves a valuable role as they are also deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of the world to provide military support. I have two nephews who have joined both the army and marines and will probably be deployed soon.
Taking the time to honor and recognize our fallen military heroes, and to acknowledge our Veterans and present military members, is important, It is what gave us our freedom – things that we take for granted.   Coming from a family that has served in the Army, Marines, and Air force, Memorial Day is special to me and my family. As It should be to all Americans.

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