LULAC Honors Its Veterans at Defenders of Freedom Breakfast
July 6, 2017
San Antonio, Texas – Today, at the 88th League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Convention and Exposition, our nation’s veterans were recognized for their service to our country. As part of the convention, LULAC hosted the Defenders of Freedom Breakfast to recognize Hispanics who have served our country with distinction.
Honored at the breakfast this year was Sergeant First Class Jorge Otero Barreto, who served five tours, from 1961 to 1970 in Southeast Asia. Otero Barreto is the most highly decorated soldier in the Vietnam War, and among his 38 military commemorations has three silver stars, five bronze stars, four Army commendations, five Purple Hearts and five air medals. Most notably, he served 200 combat missions with three different airborne divisions, which is unheard of.
LULAC National President, Roger C. Rocha, Jr. recognized Otero Barreto with the LULAC Presidential Medal of Honor for his service to our country. The LULAC Presidential Medal of Honor is the highest award that the LULAC National President can bestow.
For his valor and heroism, Otero Barreto is known as America’s Rambo. “I went to fight for freedom. I spent ten years in VietNam. I am proud. I have just one life to give to my country,” said Otero Barreto.
Close to 90 percent of LULAC Council #777’s membership are veterans—male and female. The Laredo, Texas Council President, Julie Bazan, said, “Sergent First Class Otero Barreto’s service to our country should be recognized. We need Congress and the White House to recognize his service to our country as well. He took care of his men and is a loved member of our community. This morning at the breakfast a caravan of people from Laredo were present to help honor him."
Another featured speaker at the breakfast was three star Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez who was involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein. “Two days ago, we celebrated America’s Independence Day. Many put their dreams on hold. Some of those who served never had their opportunity to pursue those dreams because of the sacrifices they made. Regardless of where we came from, serving our country is an absolute responsibility."
The breakfast highlighted the important role veterans play in helping the next generation of leaders understand how they can advance change. Veterans must ensure our children embrace the common good and speak out against injustices. “We must teach our children that America’s strength lies in its diversity,” added Sanchez.
"Throughout our nation’s history, Hispanics have been proud to serve, fight and in many instances have paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country,” said LULAC National President, Roger C. Rocha, Jr.. "In fact, Hispanics have fought in every U.S. conflict from the American Revolution to the war in Afghanistan and have received at least 44 Medals of Honor."
During the convention, LULAC will continue to honor and educate veterans through the following programs: a discussion of the “Choice” program which allows veterans the use of their own physician when they are unable to be seen by their VA physician; information on burial benefits, as well as, the compensation and claims process which can be difficult to navigate; challenges and fears for green card veterans; and a town hall where veterans can discuss a variety of issues related to the VA. In addition, the convention will highlight the work done by the LULAC Veterans Program. For example, this year LULAC sponsored 10 Vietnam commemoration events around the country honoring Vietnam veterans for their service.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.