WOODBRIDGE, Virginia --
“It is essential to explain to Hispanic parents that military service in the United States is not the same as in Central or South American countries,” said U.S. Marine Lieutenant Col. Jose Montalvan, a logistics officer. “There are many benefits (housing, healthcare, education) and advancement opportunities (promotion and assignment) available in the Marine Corps.”
A proud son of Nicaraguan immigrants, Montalvan was asked to speak at Gar-Field High School on Oct. 4, 2022 in honor of the school Hispanic heritage month celebration. This was the first celebration of its kind at the school and tickets for the event were sold out. The celebration was a time for students, parents, and teachers to share their culture with the rest of the school through food, a fashion show, dance, skits, and cultural presentations.
The school invited Montalvan to be a guest speaker because of his active social media highlighting his Hispanic heritage and his success story of being the son of immigrants and his journey to become a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps.
He also attributes a lot of his success in the Marines to his parents and his upbringing. “The Marine Corps core values align nearly perfectly with the values of Hispanic culture and the values (that his parents instilled in him) ,” said Montalvan.
At the Gar-Field Hispanic heritage celebration. Montalvan was accompanied by Sgt. Shareef Jones, a Marine Corps recruiter from Woodbridge, Va., and his wife, Cpl. Carmen Jaimes, a legal service specialist at The Basic School in Quantico, Va.
“I was excited to be invited when I heard that a high school was doing a Hispanic heritage month celebration,” said Jaimes, “I have always been proud of my Mexican culture and it is important to my husband and I that our kids know about their culture and where they came from.”
“Seeing the students really research their culture and to teach other students about it was amazing,” said Jaimes.
“My parents had such a bad view of the military because they think of the military as from their homes,” said Jaimes. “Having someone that can share their experiences with the students and parents from the perspective of an immigrant was very beneficial.”
The Marines enjoyed speaking at the event and look forward to attending more events like these in the future with the hope that the success of the Gar-Field High School Hispanic heritage celebration spreads through the community and starts a larger trend for other schools to follow.