Local nonprofit shines light on contributions of Mexican American veterans from WWII to Afghanistan

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- One local nonprofit for veterans is shining a light on Mexican-Americans that have served our country. Inside an American Legion post in the city of Orange, there is a museum highlighting the contributions of Mexican American veterans from World War II to Afghanistan.

The United Mexican American Veterans Association or UMAVA has been around for nearly 15 years. Part of their mission: getting Latino veterans recognized for their contributions while serving their country.

"Since its inception we've been able to get our Hispanic veterans recognized by having them receive their Purple Hearts, their silver stars, their bronze stars; we had veterans receive recognition from Belgium for helping capture and repatriating a concentration camp," said Jose Martinez, UMAVA. "This month is especially good for us because it helps us know that we're being recognized."

Veterans have come here looking for comradeship and belonging to a group that understands what they've gone through, no matter which war they took part in. This is where veterans can find help to adjust to life outside of the military.

"We help them with their struggles to get out of homelessness," said Martinez. "If they have trouble navigating the VA system we're out there with them helping; if they need clothing, a shower, we're out there helping any veteran that comes in needing assistance."

UMAVA'S mission: Honoring yesterday, appreciating today, inspiring tomorrow. One way they help the next generation is by raising funds for college scholarships. The program is open to anyone who needs financial help to pay for their education. The other way they inspire tomorrow is reminding us about the heroes of the past, specifically the Medal of Honor recipients

"There's the book that gets published and there's a website. And again there's a lot of our medal of honor recipients are Mexican American but we come from all different walks of life; that's what you'll see there," said Francisco Barragan, UMVA.

The United Mexican American Veterans Association welcomes all veterans who walk into their city of Orange American Legion post with open arms... They let them know in English and Spanish... their family, tu familia... is here for you.
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