With a warm smile, Adais Garcia Jr. treasure the many moments he lived both overseas and in the U.S. He is an army veteran who upon his return decided to assist fellow veterans as they transition from duty to civil life.
“I help them stay focused, you gotta be patient,” Garcia said. “I’ve been through it, so you just gotta be patient.
Garcia said his inspiration to join the army was his father.
“He was in the military, and when I was a kid I used to play with toy soldiers, and I said ‘man, I always wanted to be in the army,’” he said.
Garcia moved to the Coachella Valley when he was 9 years-old. He lived in Thermal and went to Coachella Valley High School. He made the decision of dropping out of high school when he was 17-years-old.
“I was bullied when i was in high school, and a lot of it had to do with the pandilleros, the gangs back then, I just didn’t want to go to high school,” he said.
If he wasn’t going to study, his father told him he had to find a job. Garcia decided to enlist in the army. His motivation grew upon witnessing the patriotism of his superiors.
“Going through boot camp, I saw how they acted, their authority their command presence and I said, ‘ I want to be just like them,’” Garcia recalled.
This army veteran served from 1979 to 2014. In those years, he held many positions including: scout, tanker and military police. These roles took him all over the world.
“I was in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn that was overseas in combat,” Garcia proudly said. “Here, I did Operation Garden Plot, which is the LA riots, and I also did Operation Jump Start which was a border mission.”
According to Pew Research Center, “in 2015, 12% of all active-duty personnel were Hispanic, three times the share in 1980.”
With Hispanic Heritage Month underway, Garcia reflects on his contribution to his country and his Latino community.
“I’ve done my part protecting the country, my people you know, but I also represent the Latino community especially at the rank and the position I held in the military,” he said. “Very few latinos hold that title, and I am happy to say that I was one of them.”
After his years of service, Garcia completed his bachelor’s degree in management and business and a master’s degree in organizational leadership. In his spare time, he trains youth interested in joining the army, and he assists returning veterans with paperwork and disability rights.
Garcia’s best advice is to stay focused and to visualize life goals.