SAN ANGELO, Texas — Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually Nov. 11, to honor military veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
San Angelo takes pride in honoring veterans. Richard Rodriguez, Leandra Hernandez and Luis Martinez shared their experiences of being in the military and life after serving their country.
Luis Martinez served in the United States Air Force for 15 years.
Although his service came to a halt when he was injured by an IED in Iraq in 2009, he explained how he was honored to have served the U.S. and is still serving the community today.
Martinez is now a part of the All Veterans Council of Tom Green County and San Angelo Veteran Support Organization. These organizations are a place where veterans of the Concho Valley, their families and the community come together to bond, seek help, advocate or just simply swap "war" stories.
"I have an extended family. I have brothers and sisters that served all over the world knowing that at the drop of a moment if I ever need anything I know they'll have my back like I'll have their back. That’s what's so great about serving," Martinez said.
Leandra Hernandez served in the United States Air Force for six years.
Hernandez explained how capturing moments while in the military had a huge impact on the families who wanted to know what their family members were doing while serving.
"I served and was a photojournalist, so I got to document a lot of the missions that you would otherwise not see. I think the impact that we had was to be able to share that story and being able to let people back home know what our troops were doing and how they were making an impact in their communities and nationwide,” Hernandez said.
After serving, Hernandez created the women’s veteran organization, 'WoVeN'. It is a nationwide network for women veterans of all service branches and eras that empowers them with information, resources, and social connections.
Richard Rodriguez served in the U.S. Army for 14 years.
Since serving, he now works with local veteran organizations. He always advises veterans to seek the help they need because life after serving is not always easy.
“Not everyone can say they signed that blank check and would give their life for this country. I want veterans to know there are so many different resources available in San Angelo and everywhere for them to talk to someone about anything they may be going through,” Rodriguez said.
The Veterans Day discounts at stores are nice, but they aren’t the sole purpose of this national holiday. This holiday was created to honor our veterans. These three veterans say celebrating their service is something that happens everyday, but honoring the fallen military on Veterans Day is essential.
"We celebrate Veterans Day everyday. We see each other and we see each other quite often so Veterans Day for me is celebrating with all the other veterans you don't see on a regular basis,” Rodriguez shared.