Marine Veteran

MVP - That Feeling Of Comradery

“When I joined the Army in 1994, Ihad already done two years of JROTC in high school. The day after my 17th birthday I enlisted in the Army with the hesitant consent and signature of my parents. I had always been interested in the military from GI Joe, books, history, and films that instilled the idea of a brotherhood of men and women and the belief of defending the nation with the values of good vs. evil.” 

“I was born and raised in and around the projects in the Bronx, New York, until my early teens. My parents were immigrants, and they became naturalized citizens. My dad was from Puerto Rico, and my mom was born in Mexico. I was a latch key kid as my parents worked so hard.  I think my dad served in the Korean War, but he never really talked about it. I am proud to be a first generation American.” 

In his early teens, they moved to Plant City, a small town in Florida known as ‘The Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.’“They were able to buy a house and get me out of that bad environment. Many of my friends in the Bronx eventually were locked away or had ‘gone away’—died.”

“When I signed up for my first 4-year tour, I thought: ‘when I’m done, I’m done’—and I stayed in for 23 years. I kept moving up and reupping.” Boot camp was in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. During his first year, both of his parents died. “I was an only child, and at 18 the Army became my immediate family.”

After boot camp, he spent the next seven years stationed in Germany. “It was a great experience! I grew up and traveled all over Europe from the ages of 17-24.” He became trilingual—speaking English, Spanish, and German. He returned to the states in early 2001 to Fort Bragg in northern North Carolina. 

Then 9/11 hit. “When I joined in 1994, I was only planning on doing one, maybe two 4-year terms of service so I’d have the option to owe no more time to the Army, and I would be free to follow my passion of film/acting and becoming an NYPD officer. As I watched what happened and how the world was forever going to change, it made me want to stay in longer than I would have ever initially imagined. I knew I had to stay and be part of the fight. I couldn’t leave my team after such a tragedy for our country.” He was deployed to Iraq and did two tours back-to-back from 2003-2005. He then spent a year in Korea and returned to the US to Fort Lewis, Washington for two years. 

During an extensive, year-long process he applied and was nominatively selected to serve in the White House Communications Agency from 2009-2013. His Army experience in leadership, logistics, operations, and management were essential in being selected for this prestigious assignment.

During a Rapid Deployment in 2014, he deployed to Afghanistan for almost a year. In late 2014 he returned to Fort Drum, New York until he retired in 2017 with the rank of Sergeant First  Class, Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, and moved to Las Vegas with his wife and two children. “By this time, I disliked the east coast’s cold weather, and my wife had family in Las Vegas. After leaving the Army, I took a couple of months off to regroup. My first civilan job entailed a 3-hour round trip commute that was not worth the commute and unsustainable as much time was lost in the day.” After a short-term job in 2018, he just started a new job in 2019 in Project Management in the entertainment industry.

“As a combat veteran who served for over two decades, more than half of my life time, in the service from Presidential, Tactical, Theater, Strategic, and Combat Levels/Operations and that as a Pre/Post 9/11 combat veteran you realize that your optics and morals are not the same as for some people.”

“MVP has been monumental and instrumental to my transition. I was first introduced to MVP by a fellow MVP member. I attended the Las Vegas center’s first anniversary event/session and immediately felt like I was part of a unit/military family again upon arriving. The morals, values, ethics, and optics that we have from our service and in MVP are of a different caliber than most people would not relate to or understand, but in a positive and powerful way.” 

“MVP to me is that feeling of comradery and esprit de corps, unable to be replicated anywhere else for veterans. It’s a tribal and family community. You can get it out on the exercise mat, and some can get it off their chest from group discussions. It has also been instrumental to me to learn and listen to the MVP members for their advice and experiences during transition. I will continue to be an MVP member and look forward to assisting the program and new members in their next chapter of life.”  

“I have lost too many brothers and sisters in combat and after combat while dealing with their own internal wars. I have helped many of them while I was on active duty and now that I’m retired by listening and continuing to being a mentor.” 

“I know and see that MVP is an outlet for some of the members who need it and it makes them keep moving forward—it is a house of hope, sanctuary, and a family reunion every week with a good workout in between. Resiliency is in all veterans, and we all cope with change and life in different ways. I balance it with faith, family, laughter, and sweat.” 

“I will continue to be involved as it is a great program. If I show members that if I can transition well—they can as well. Being in the service half of my life has been a privilege and an honor. Transitioning is difficult to so many and if I can open the optics that you can and will do it, only if you are hungry and determined to use the skills and values that you have and make an impact. I want to continue to mentor and provide any assistance and guidance I can to my MVP family.”

In addition to Roy’s new job, his family and MVP, he is working on a book/screenplay tentatively titled: From Bronx to Bagdad and Everywhere in Between based on the journals and logs he kept during his time in the Army. “I want to leave a legacy for my kids that shows a human element and also a behind-the-scenes look at military life.”