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NEWS | Oct. 5, 2021

Army Reserve Soldier reflects on service in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month

By Cheryl Phillips 88th Readiness Division

First Lieutenant Lucia Mejia, aide-de-camp to the 88th Readiness Division deputy commanding general for support, reflected on her military service in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from mid-September to mid-October.

Several factors affected Mejia’s decision to join the military. “The most important ones were 911, and the fact that both my brothers had joined the military several years earlier. They loved serving in the military and they encouraged me to join. I have no regrets,” she said.

Mejia’s brother Arturo joined the active Army after graduating from high school. He was stationed in Germany for two years and deployed to Bosnia. He served the rest of his contract in the Army Reserve, and deployed to Iraq in 2003-2005. Her brother Jesus served in the Army Reserve and deployed to Afghanistan in 2003. Other family members have also served in the military.

Three cousins, all siblings, served in the Army National Guard. One currently works full-time as an Active Guard Reserve Soldier. Another cousin is a retired Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer who served for 20 years.

Finally, Mejia’s four maternal great uncles all served – one in the Marine Corps and the rest in the Army. “Uncle Elias is a WWII Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient,” she said.

Mejia is following in the footsteps of these family members. She enlisted in 2002 as a 25U Signal Support Systems Specialist. She reclassified to 68X Behavioral Health after returning from a deployment. She was an E7 when she commissioned in 2016 as a Medical Service Corps officer.

“My family is supportive. They like the fact that I have a passion for what I do in the military,” Mejia said. “They also like the fact that I get to have a completely different career on the civilian side.” She works as an Investigator for the Wage and Hour Division for the U.S. Department of Labor in Minneapolis.

Born in Morelia, Mexico, Mejia is “extremely proud of being an officer in the U.S. Army and very proud of my Hispanic heritage. I feel grateful to be able to represent my culture and to be part of one of the most diverse organizations in the world,” she said.

“As a Hispanic woman, I have different experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today, but at the end of the day, we are all Soldiers and part of the same team, and I love the fact that the Army appreciates the different perspectives and experiences that Soldiers from different backgrounds bring to the table.”

Mejia doesn’t see herself as a role model for other Hispanic people. “Everything I’ve done in the military is based on the opportunities that have been available to me and the opportunities I decided to pursue.

“However, I am Hispanic and an immigrant, so I do think it’s important for other Hispanics/Immigrants to know that that the military is a welcoming place that offers tons of opportunities to anyone willing to serve their country. As I said, I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to be part of this organization, and I would encourage everyone who is able to serve, to give themselves a chance to experience being part of this.”

Mejia thinks that her involvement with the Army Reserve has helped her handle challenges she’s faced in her life. “Serving in the Army has given me a different perspective on things, and it has definitely helped me handle personal and professional challenges in a more mature way. Of course, I am not perfect and no one is, but I always try to conduct myself with professionalism because I am aware that I represent the Army Reserve even when I’m not in uniform. I have learned to walk away from some situations before I say or do something that is just not the right thing to say or the right thing to do.”