From Sept. 15-Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, and it’s a great time to recognize the many contributions of Hispanic Soldiers to the military.
Though the Army is now going to celebrate inclusion during Army Heritage Month in June to recognize the many different ethnicities in the Army, it’s still important to recognize the heritage days or months celebrating that diversity.
Master Sgt. Jose Rosario Jr., senior equal opportunity advisor, believes diversity is critical in the Army.
“We’re a reflection of society, and society is diverse, so we have to be diverse in our organizations. It makes us who we are – having a mixture of individuals, a mixture of ideas,” Rosario stated.
Being Hispanic himself, Hispanic Heritage Month is very important to Rosario.
“For me, it just celebrates my roots; where I’m from. It shows individuals who are not familiar with my culture, what we’re about and what we’ve brought to the table. The significance of the contributions that we’ve made to the Army and other branches of service to this country,” Rosario said. “Just highlighting those people. There’s a lot of great things out there and just like in many other races and cultures, everybody has their contributions that they’ve given to society, so I think that’s an awesome way to recognize those individuals and highlight those accomplishments.”
In 2016, 14% of active duty Soldiers and 16% of Army Reserve Soldiers in the Army were Hispanic.
“I think it’s to show other Hispanic Soldiers that look at what individuals have done in the past – you’re fully capable of doing the same thing,” Rosario said. “Especially with a lot of stuff that’s going on in society right now, people probably might be doubters. Of certain things and they get stereotyped … but highlighting the positive, the good, is always a plus. We tend to focus on the negative too much. There’s so much more positive than negative out there.”
Rosario doesn’t have to look far for someone inspiring to look up to. One Hispanic Soldier who has greatly inspired him is his father, retired Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rosario.
“He was an inspiration for me. He was first generation from Puerto Rico. When he joined the Army, his primary language was Spanish,” Rosario explained. “It was Vietnam era. It was the draft. It was a different environment back then, so for me to see him overcome the language barrier, the cultural barrier and be successful in the military … that’s my No. 1.”
Another inspiration to him was Sgt. Maj. Jim Cabrerra Sr., battalion sergeant major for 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who mentored him despite having a different type of job.
“He, by example, showed me what I needed to do. He was field artillery, and I am human resources, but regardless (he) mentored, taught me, showed me the way,” Rosario said. “I think just seeing a Hispanic figure in his position meant a lot to me. I saw possibilities, and I was a young staff sergeant at that time. It was a great mentorship that was happening.”