Serving with Pride and Dignity in the Armed Services
Ms. Mary A. Young
U.S. Air Force
Ms. Mary A. Young distinguishes herself as the Functional Affirmative Employment Program Manager, Equal Opportunity Operations Directorate, Air Force Personnel Center at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. She leads the Air Force People with Disabilities working group and is a member of the Air Force Barrier Analysis working group. This group was chartered to examine the barriers to employment of women, minorities and Person’s With Disabilities.
At only 18 years old, Ms. Young decided to work for the Air Force. Unlike many Latinas who join any military branch, her family was not surprise of her career choice, simply because her cousins and father had friends who already worked for the Federal government. Today, she states the best of her job is to provide guidance and advice on Hispanic employment and recognition and has learned to have a greater appreciation for diversity and people with disabilities. “I have motivated and mentored many Hispanics,” she states. “I have directly and positively contributed to the development of our nation’s future leaders.”
Ms. Young served as the Air Force planning advisor for the Hispanic National Image Conferences in 2008 and 2009. Moreover, Ms. Young advised senior AFPC awards program managers on AEP/SEP-based awards and participated in a working group to improve identification and nomination processes for Hispanic military and civilian engineers in support of the annual Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award Conference. In 2009, she was honored by Texas Senator Carlos Uriste with the state’s Yellow Rose of Texas Certificate signed by Governor Rick Perry. Since 2002, she has been an active mentor for two young Hispanic women in San Antonio, TX. Both are professionals, and their success is, in part, a testament to Ms. Young’s sage guidance and dedication to helping others realize and achieve their fullest potential.
Her advice to the young Latina is to “take full advantage of every career opportunity available, to do the best job they can and mentor other Hispanic females and help them reach their goals.”
Specialist Lucia Monreal
National Guard Bureau
“The best part of my job is to see the patients,” says SPC Lucia Monreal who currently works as a Dental Specialist assisting dentists in the examination and treatment of patients, as well as helping manage dental offices. “I love teaching them all about dental care and preventive measures to keeping a beautiful smile.” On the other hand, the difficult part of her job is to deny soldiers from a deployment due to a serious dental work.
Monreal is currently performing duty as a detainee guard in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her average workday consists of 13 to 14 hour shifts which leave her just enough time to eat, sleep and exercise when not working. Her position as a detainee guard has provided her a unique opportunity to witness firsthand how Iraqis in her custody interact, pray and speak.
She joined the National Guard at 18 years old and today with more than four years she gladly states to plan to stay for 20 years or more. Although she considers herself independent and challenges her male counterparts with schooling or physical labor, her biggest challenge has been deployment on a detainee operations mission for a year and leaving behind her now 2-year-old daughter, Mia Renee.
She has distinguished herself as a leader, developed skills and training that she is proud of. “I am now a stronger person mentally and physically,” she states. “I have travelled and met new people and cultures, have my dental training, Combat Lifesaver Course Training, and now have returned with a detainee operations mission with law enforcement experience.”
As a Latina, she would like to be remembered as one who accomplished much from being a single mother, to assisting as a dental sergeant, to gearing up in much weight and different weapons as a guard in Iraq against hundreds of Iraq detainees. “I’m proud I have pleased my family and friends and love to show other Latina females that anything is possible,” she says. “We can do anything a man can do, don’t ever let them put you down or let them see you can be weak. Stay focused and strong and the rewards will come.”
Master Sergeant Lillian G. Natal
National Guard Bureau
Master Sergeant Lillian G. Natal distinguished herself while assigned to the Office of Cultural Leadership and Development at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia. MSgt Natal is responsible for the development of policies for the selection, validation, support and training of newly appointed Human Resources Advisors of 88 wings located throughout the 50 States and Territories.
It was March 1996, at the age of 34 that she decided to make a career out of the military. Although her family was surprised at her decision she didn’t look back and moved forward. Today though some of the biggest challenges faced has been deployment, staying fit and trained she says to have acquired discipline, integrity and patience from the military life. “With the constant changes you have to stay on top of your skills,” she says. “I have worked as a training manager, an assistant to a program manager, a unit career advisor, help in recruiting and retention. There is something new to learn.”
She is a supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis, Epilepsy Foundation, Children’s Cancer Research, Leukemia & Lymphoma, Men’s Basketball on Wheels, The District of Columbia Walk for Breast Cancer, and the National Cancer Research Foundation. MSgt Natal’s sense of service was visible when she deployed as a single mother to Ali Al Saleem, in Kuwait during Operation Nobel Eagle. During this deployment she distinguished herself as a role model and leader. MSgt Natal’s willing involvement toward educating others about National Guard opportunities and her selfless commitment to Senior NCO performance serves as a role model to the Latin American community and to other women.
Natal believes anything is possible but one must work for it. “I gave my best at everything that was put on my plate and no challenge should be an excuse to quit,” she states. “Failure is not an option, it’s a poor excuse for mediocre.”
Commander Alicia Garcia Vantran
U. S. Coast Guard
She signed in as a US Public Health Commissioned Officer in 1999 when doing her last year family physician residency in Puerto Rico. Today, Commander Alicia Garcia Vantran is cited for excellence in military service and achievements as a Flight Surgeon and Medical Doctor assigned to the United States Coast Guard Medical Department/Clinic in Washington, DC. As a Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Ventra performs flight physical examinations on pilots and flight school candidates, crew members and crew member candidates. She provides specialized job training for every Nurse and Health Services technician in preparation for independent duty and provides direct supervision to the staff nurses.
While deployed on the ship/cutter USCG Cutter Eagle she provided medical services to 100 Cadets every week. Dr. Ventra willingly volunteered to travel to the Dominican Republic to provide medical care to the less fortunate.
She organized a team of doctors to render medical services to over 200 indigent Dominicans and the Haitians living in unsuitable conditions in Santo Domingo. Dr. Ventra was selected to work at the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the Health and Human Services in Rockville, Maryland. For her competence, she was awarded a medical grant specifically for minority medical students.She was selected to serve as the senior medical officer for the Commandant’s (commanding officer of the Coast Guard) change of command ceremony with President Bush. Dr. Ventra has also worked with Indian Health Services Ceremony, Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and Social Security Services.
As a Latina physician who came 10 years ago from Puerto Rico, one of the biggest challenges at the beginning of her career was the language. “The first day of my job was hard,” she says. “It was hard to listen all the time English.” Nevertheless, she did not allow the barrier to stop her from moving forward. She enjoys military life, has learned to work as a group and as a team and enjoys seeing her patients be better.
She encourages every Latina to give their 100 percent in their job and to be involved in their job or outside community. “Every person should have a goal in their life and say that I can do it,” she says. “If you want to do it, you will do it.”
Ms. Irma Edys Fuentes
U. S. Coast Guard
“I have always liked characters of power especially the uniformed ones since my early years of life,” says Ms. Irma Edys Fuentes who is cited for exemplary performance and achievements at the Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit (CEU) Miami as manager of the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Section (CADD) in Miami, Florida. Her section provides drafting support for 15 engineer and architect designers. She mentors interns who are predominantly Hispanic in a program that hires part-time contract technicians through a disability rehabilitation program.
With 17 years of experience with the U.S. Coast Guard, Fuentes recounts the beginning of her career was a challenge, and that was being the only female to occupy the position of an architect in the design section, which was composed of 34 male architects/engineers. “I was old enough to understand and accept the challenges of the career when I accepted the offer,” she states. “It made my father proud to see that his daughter had started to work with a military organization. It was no surprise of the choice I had made.”
Though gender has been one of the obstacles in her career, she is gratified to know that her job consists of helping with the reconstruction of the military dwellings destroyed during disasters like hurricanes or flooding in the Area of Responsibility (AOR). In the days after Hurricane Katrina struck she volunteered to drive in a three day caravan of five recreational vehicles hauling relief supplies.
Ms. Fuentes also finds time to serve the community, working during the weekends providing food for the homeless, and aiding senior citizens taking them to doctor’s appointment, hospitals and running errands for them after work. She also encourages most of the Latinos and supports them to become not only proficient in what they do but “top notch” professionals.
“Don’t ever, for any reason give up,” she states. “There is always tomorrow and it will be bright and sunny and the sun rays will illuminate you to a degree where you will succeed. Most important be proud as a Latina of the culture and inheritance, keep your culture alive.”
Ms. Loraine Fahling Defense Logistics Agency
Ms. Loraine Fahling began her government career as a civilian with the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in the early 70’s working as a nurse assistant and today she has distinguished herself while working for the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, Contingency Operations Directorate where she works supporting the Emergency Essential (EE) and Volunteer Program.
In 2008, Fahling volunteered to deploy to Iraq for six months with her employer, the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service. She was instrumental in the reduction of a documentation backlog requiring electronic filing. She was able to completely eliminate the backlog of over 30,000 documents and maintained the time standard for processing all future documents. While deployed, she continued her volunteering spirit by coordinating a humanitarian event with school children in the states who collected stuffed animals to give to the Iraqi children.
She arranged with the Iraqi Military in Baghdad to hand out over 100 stuffed animals to Iraqi children of Iraqi soldiers. She also coordinated with a school teacher back in the United States to hand out “thank you” letters written by high school students to give to our soldiers. She has volunteered her time to assist Hispanics, females and minority students at Western Michigan University with writing their resumes in order to seek government employment. She supported and encouraged Hispanic youth of their pursuit of higher education. She worked with the committee to develop creative approaches to raise funds for the annual HEP scholarships presented to students. She has demonstrated her commitment to this nation by volunteering to deploy to Iraq for six months in support of our war fighters.
She believes in herself, believes in not giving up and follows her mother’s footsteps in order to excel in her career. “She is a retired Doctor and she always told me that it wasn’t easy for her being a female and a Hispanic while she was coming up,” she says. “She always had to prove herself and became very well known in her field.”
Her goal is to help all soldiers from all wars and thinks Latinas have come a long way but there is more to do. To move forward her advice to the young Latina is “don’t give up on your goals and dreams,” she states. “Believe in yourself, always help and mentor our young generation.”