My ANSO Story
The following changed my life: MARADMIN 075/14, Subject – Association of Naval Services Officers West Coast Professional Development Seminar, dated 24 February 2014. On 24 February 2014, I was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, gearing up to leave on my first combat deployment to Afghanistan in less than 90 days. I had never heard of ANSO before, and – to be honest – I did not think to look it up. The MARADMIN stated the Seminar served to “provide professional development and career management information to growing leaders for the future of our sea services. The event is a platform where officers and those planning to become officers will hear about developments in military leadership and technology, discuss best practices, learn from experienced leaders, and explore issues surrounding diversity in the workplace.”
From the day I stepped on the yellow footprints at Parris Island, I was determined to become an officer. I mean, have you seen the Marine Corps officer uniform? All joking aside, I was determined to become a great leader, one who could lead a diverse group of men and women reminiscent of my peers and childhood friends growing up in New York City. Officership? Conversations of diversity in the workplace? The seminar was to be held 2 business days later on 27 February, and I wasted no time in signing up.
Arriving at the seminar, I was thoroughly impressed by the crowd. Navy Captains, a Marine Corps General – certainly more rank that I had been accustomed to interacting with on a regular basis. Yet it was not the collar device that threw me aback. It was the first words spoken to kick off the event – “¡Bienvenidos a la Familia! ¡Adelante con ANSO!” It was at that moment I looked around and realized I was surrounded by service members who looked and spoke like me. What a pleasant surprise.
I had joined The Few, The Proud, but what my Marine Corps recruiter failed to mention was that as a Hispanic, I was part of the Fewer, and certainly Prouder. That day, for the first time in my military career, I felt very much at home amongst mi pueblo. Yet I also realized the work still left undone to represent our pueblo in the officer corps.
One of the many impressive personalities I met was LCDR Brian Alvara, a then-Navy Officer recruiter who would help me realize my dream of officership. LCDR Alvara was a “can-do” kind of guy (as most recruiters are), but what really struck me was his passion to help me achieve my dream as a Hispanic. He, and the rest of ANSO, were truly in my corner in a way not many other leaders were. And they all showed me that for us Hispanics and Latinos in the military, “¡Si se puede!” In less than 30 days, LCDR Alvara helped me put together my Navy Officer Candidate School application. On 13 November, just a couple days after returning from Afghanistan, LCDR Alvara called to congratulate me on my selection to the Naval Intelligence community.
Today, I serve as a Navy Lieutenant for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, having thoroughly enjoyed various tours on carriers, amphibious assault ships, boots on ground with MARSOC and SEALs in Iraq, and instructor duty ashore. I have learned much about leadership along the way, and no-doubt have a lot more to learn. But as I reflect back on my career, I realize ANSO is where it all really started. ANSO taught me the value of leadership, excellence, and dedication to our comunidad, our familia. It showed me the power of professional networking and abundant resources to accomplish goals. Over the years, I have praised ANSO and spread the good word, but today, I am proud to serve as an active member of La Familia as the newest ANSO DC Chapter President.
So if there are any lessons to be learned from my ANSO story they are this:
- Read your MARADMIN/NAVADMINs every single day and share them with others
- Navy Officer Uniforms options provide more versatility than the single Marine Corps option
- ¡Sigue adelante con ANSO!