The story of my Veteran Familia.
We all know the courageous stories of men and women fighting in wars. They are our heroes, our dependable, hard-working members of our American society. And I am every so proud to be able to say that many of the men in my family have served our county.
During WWI, WWII, Vietnam and the Korean wars, Men would leave their families to fight in a war for our independence while families not being guaranteed that their husbands, fathers or brothers would come back. If that isn’t courageous, I don’t know what is.
My own Mejico familia struggled deeply with life in the military. My familias roots are from Mexico. One way or another they made their lives in Los Angeles, California.
During WWII my Papa (Dad’s Dad) fought in the army. I don’t know all the gruesome details as I was not old enough to have had a chance to ask him questions. What I do know is that in combat, he lost his nose. He had to have plastic surgery to create a new nose.
At 8 years old, he was the first person in my life that was torn from me. In my innocent eyes, he was my savior, my hero, my Papa. I remember my family taking him to the hospital, but didn’t exactly know why. In the summers, he would take care of my brother and I. Those days are so clear, with memories of riding in the back of his big station wagon with his floor covered with NyQuil bottles.
The connection came later in my teens. He had PTSD. As a society, we unfortunately do not acknowledge the psychological damage war has on our fighters.
My Papa functioned, but he was so scarred from the war that he was a silent alcoholic. I later found out why they would rush him to the hospital. He had become so violent in his drunken states that they would take him to a hospital to be restrained and probably given sedatives.
The story is that once I was born (I was the first grandchild), he promised to stop drinking. And he did. I miss him to this day. I’m so grateful for his bravery of a family man to take care of his family even though I’m sure he was internally suffering. I’m so grateful he stood up to fight for America even though he was a Mexican citizen. Did you hear that? Yes, he was born in Mexico and I’m not exactly sure if he came here legally or not, but he had a green card (from what my family has told me) and he fought for us, the American people! His own mother did not even speak English or Spanish! She spoke Nahuatl from what my Dad had told me. Take that Mexican hater #45!
He fought in WWII, he was scarred for life, but as a child, I never heard him complain once! On the other side of the coin, I never heard him speak of him servicing in the Army at all. I just want to hug him one more time and tell him that he never suffered alone! But as we know, our Vets do not always get the best treatment, which is a sad reality. Worse, my Papa’s generation was very “machismo” and men were really not allowed to be “weak” and seek help.
I want to give him one more kiss on the cheek and tell him he was my hero for more than one reason.
He was a MEXICAN man carrying a green card and an American Hero!
Happy Veterans Day to all the men and women who have fought for our independence!
Cheers to my Mejico familia:
My Papa, Joe Ruiz fought in WWII:
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My late Uncle, Louise Ruiz (Dad’s brother) served in the Navy during the Korean War. He sadly committed suicide on a Navy boat at the age of 18-19. Apparently, having to deal with his own father’s mental illness (PTSD) and then having to deal with the high expectations of being in the Navy during the Korean war, he couldn’t take it and he jumped off his Navy boat. I sadly never had the chance to meet him. Just as I send a heavenly hug to my Papa (his father), I send a hug to my late Uncle Louis. Thank you for having the courage to join the Navy and fight for our American Independence!
Next in line was my own Father, Stephen Ruiz. Now, think about his family history so far. His father had PTSD from WWII, his brother committed suicide during the Korean War and he still had the courage to be taken to the Army. Right after high school, he was drafted, which was during the Vietnam War. They sent him off to Vietnam and he did share some of his stories with me. He was in the middle of combat. He saw some of his buddies go down. He partied, he met “women”, but in the little amount of time he was in combat, I could only imagine how that affected his Psyche.
My Nana (his mother) must have been distraught with the fact that her only son was alive and was in the middle of combat. She ended up writing a letter to the President requesting to have my drafted Dad not fight in the actual war because she already had a husband who had PTSD and lost her oldest son (above) while in the Navy. They agreed and sent him to Germany to protect the Nuclear plants. Even though my father was drafted, he went and fought. Thank you to my Dad for serving in the Army and fighting for our Independence. I of course send a million hugs to my Dad!
My Ruiz family had courage despite their internal struggles! My father survived the affects of the wars within his own family. He struggled with his own internal demons, which at the end of the day, they did take over. He numbed himself with alcohol. As a Vet, he was taken care of as far as medical costs, but I truly feel that our Govt. does not take the effect of War seriously. He was not screened for PTSD despite his families background and his own eyes of battle.
Battle wounds not only effect the Vet, but it is a family affair.
On my Mothers side, my Grandpa, Jesus Moralez fought in WWII. He survived. Thank you Grandpa for your service!
My Uncle Art Moralez was in the Army during Vietnam War (Mom’s brother). I don’t know if he was drafted, but he obviously served. Thank you Uncle Art for your service!
My Uncle JR (Mom’s youngest brother) was in the Navy.
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Clearly, I have both sides of my family who served! Happy Veterans Day to you and to all the Vets. Thank you for your service!!!
(Revised November 2018)
Written by the daughter, granddaughter and niece of these wonderful Vets. Camille Ruiz aka Cami*Star.