Military Oral History

The Puerto Rican Experience In The U.S. Military: A Century Of Unheralded Service

written by Dr. Harry Franqui-Rivera; Senior Digital Aide, Monique Aviles


Band of Brothers
Veterans explain the bond existing between them because of their service regardless of class, gender, racial and political and ideological differences.

Courage Under Fire
In this section, Puerto Rican veterans recount their experiences under fire and what it felt to go through their “baptism of fire”.

One of the common topics in oral histories with Puerto Rican veterans is discrimination. This section offers the veterans’ own voices to illustrate the racial and ethnic discrimination they faced while serving.

Kindness in Times of War
Even during the most trying times, soldiers experience kindness and themselves were able to feel empathy and show kindness and compassion to their own, civilians displaced by war, and even to the enemy.

This section is dedicated to the veterans’ struggles with PTSD and their efforts to help other veterans to seek help, treatment and support.

Tradition of Service
Officially, Puerto Ricans have been serving in the United States Armed Forces since 1899. That has created a tradition of service which many times is passed from generation to generation.

Veterans and their Communities [Paying it Forward]
In this section, Puerto Rican veterans narrate how they immersed themselves in working for their communities. Some put it as a way of paying forward what they were able to accomplish because of their military service (from scaping poverty to studying and becoming professionals and acquiring leadership skills).

Veterans Helping their Own
It is not uncommon for veterans to work and volunteer providing services and leadership, and to be advocate for veterans’ issues. This section explores their efforts to help other veterans from navigating the state and legal bureaucracies to understanding and using their G.I. Bill benefits and finding aid and support groups.

Veterans Reflect on the Cost of War
In this section, veterans reflect on what they’ve learned from their experience in war and how it affected them and those exposed to it.

Why they Served
In this section, veterans explain what motivated them to serve in the military. Even those who volunteered for service did so for different reasons.