By William D. Rodriguez
Rear Admiral, United States Navy, Retired
Board Member, Hispanic Veterans Leadership Alliance (HVLA)
Past President, Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO)
The continuing focus on Diversity and Inclusion has become more of a “Race issue” and a “Gender issue” than an “Ethnicity issue”. The Hispanic American population has grown to be the largest minority group in this country, and yet, comparatively speaking, our Armed Forces still do not reflect “the face of the nation” with regard to the Hispanic American population. This is particularly true in the Flag and General Officer, senior officer and senior enlisted ranks. This is NOT Diversity and Inclusion! As you will remember, forty-five years ago the emphasis to increase the number of African Americans in key colleges, universities and other educational and business institutions was through Affirmative Action and Quota Control. This program which was deemed as successful had its flaws. It had very little, if any, regard for any ethnic community, and there was little concern for meritocracy. Of note, however, the program eventually produced a significant number of African American Flag and General Officers. These senior officers then served as examples and potential mentors to those who came behind them. Similar to what was done for the African Americans over forty-five years ago, there should be a renewed emphasis and focus on the ethnic communities, specifically, the Hispanic American Community. Furthermore, there should be an in-depth analysis of the demographics of Hispanic Americans in the Armed Forces and specifically in its senior ranks, and the DoD and the Services should take an approach towards tracking and mentoring of Hispanic Americans in order to advocate for them, ensure they are fully qualified for promotion into the senior ranks of the Armed Forces, and are given a fair and objective opportunity for promotion without prejudice or discrimination.
Full version of the Op-Ed can be found here.