National Chairwoman Remarks
Words from the American GI Forum of the U.S. Past National Commander
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a month since the conclusion of our 70th American GI Forum of the US (AFIFUS) National Conference in San Antonio, TX. Reflecting back on the last four years, the organization has gone through some prolific and tumultuous times. Either way, we have made great strides in fortifying and turning the organization in the right direction.
As the newly elected National Commander in 2014, I set out to do an in-depth self-assessment to improve the organization. After discussion with the executive board, we agreed to develop plans and policies to codify our goals. I volunteered to develop the organization's Strategic Plan and other policies and procedures that explained and set the rules of our organization.
I traveled on numerous occasions through the years to represent the interests of the AGIF. As a board member of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), I had the opportunity to meet with other organizations' leadership and corporate CEO's to establish a rapport on how our organizations could mutually benefit.
It was always an honor to represent the AGIFUS at the White House Breakfasts and the Veterans Day ceremonies. Especially, the honorable opportunities that allowed our members partake in the ceremony and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I was an honor to represent the National on trips to state conferences in California, Colorado and Texas. Local events include the Veterans and Youth Education & Technology Ceremony in Corpus Christi and the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War pinning of Vietnam Veterans. One somber event was the refusal of the Santo Domingo Cemetery Association to allow Mrs. Donna Barrera to bury her husband in the cemetery. This was a joint effort with LULAC Council 1 and the NAACP of Corpus Christi.
Lawsuits have continued to be a divisive irritant on the organization. At this time two of three have been settled.
As we move forward, I believe that working together; we succeeded in steering the culture of the organization for the better.
I would like to thank the national membership for having the confidence and for their support to allow me to have served for four years as your National Commander.
I would be remiss if I don’t thank each of you for your support, assistance and devotion to the AGIF through the years. I learned and gained wisdom from each and every interaction with you. Thanks to the National Executive and National Boards, State Commanders, State Chairwomen, State Boards, Conference Committees, National Office Staff and each and every member.
Together we made a difference.
As always see you at the next conference.
Immediate Past National Commander
American GI Forum of the US
Acknowledgements, Successes and Thank You from Our Former National Chairwoman
American GI Forum of Texas, Inc. Report: SAN ANTONIO, Texas – I would like to take this moment to acknowledge our accomplishments of the past year and thank those of you who helped make these successes possible. I had the honor of serving as your 2017-2018 National Chairwoman for the American G.I. Forum of the United States. It was an unforgettable year full of accomplishments as new friendships arose, old ones were reinforced, and new challenges welcomed. I was encouraged to seek a second term but decided not to seek re-election because I am motivated to work on several special projects for the organization.
With support from several National Board members, general membership, volunteers and family members who gave of their time and resources without question, we held a successful (and prosperous!) 2018 AGIF Mid-Year and 2018 National Conference. The making of any conference requires balance of work and resources with VISION! Once elected and based on years of experience and dedication to the National AGIF, I immediately got to work. I wrote out a plan, guided by a vision statement that was shared with our National Commander Zuniga (whose support and encouragement never wavered), along with our Board members.
The plan presented had the goal of bringing visibility to the organization at a national level through: (1) implementation of educational programs for at risk students; (2) recognition of AGIF members of long standing membership; (3) promoting awareness and advocacy for military families; (4) highlighting corporations and legislators who recognize the value of the AGIF as an organization; and lastly, (5) help bring financial resources for the national office through sustainable relationships and shared event planning.
It was foremost and imperative to honor not only those individuals that came before us and to also recognize those that are coming behind us. Thursday, July 26, was dedicated to Corpus Christi, Texas, the birthplace of our organization. At the Youth Educational Breakfast and Technology Program, and Community and Corporate Leadership Luncheon were a huge success! Media included radio, tv, social media and newspaper which helped our visibility more than double!
On Saturday, the Women’s Leadership Scholarship Program (a scholarship in honor of Wanda “Daisy” Garcia daughter of Dr. Hector P. Garcia) which honored Women Veterans was also a huge success!
Sustainable relationships in and out of the Boardroom are key to securing funding sources for any conference. After years of fostering many relationships, it was evident that they did matter because our Sponsors were ready to help the National AGIF Conference thrive and succeed, and succeed we did!
I am proud of the work accomplished and resources raised. I consider the National AGIF a role model for providing services for Veterans and their families and hope that our incoming Board will create a vision statement and plan that will continue the great work accomplished this year. The primary goal of the AGIF, since its inception, has been to serve our military communities within our Latino population. This has never changed and should continue with the inclusion of our youth.
Special acknowledgements and thank you are in order for:
- Lupe and Gil Rodriguez, the 2018 AGIF National Conference Co-Chairs who started planning two years ago, or as soon as the Conference was awarded to Texas. They selected a theme and began work with their team that provide immediate results. They provided the leadership necessary to prepare and run a successful conference. Putting personal biases aside, and with immaculate work ethics it allowed their superior communication skills, teamwork and complete dedication to the National AGIF assuring excellent work related to the conference.
- Luis A. Vazquez-Contes, AGIF National office Manager Luis A., a force onto anyone for always having my best interests at heart; keeping my time management on track; staying a step ahead by providing whatever was needed to complete tasks ; and always reminding me the importance and privilege of my role as spokesperson for the AGIF Women.
- AGIF membership who were loyal until the end of our term, endured challenges that provided victories allowed us to performed the little and big things. Yes, I got to smell the roses!
- Angel Zuniga National Commander manifested his quiet, and effective leadership by bringing closure to longstanding and obstinate obstacles for which the organization has long suffered. Confidence in our plan, confidence in the vision and confidence in our action was the principal lesson I learned from you. Thank you for being relentless and never allowing the “nay sayers and hear-says” to dictate our course. Kudos!
It has been an honor to represent the American G.I. Forum of the United States and I could not have done without the Good Lord, my husband Luis and daughters, Leslie, Francesca and Gabrielle. I will always be blessed by their unconditional love and support.
I thank everyone that helped make my term as the 2018 National Chairwoman a success, gracias!
Patsy M. Vazquez-Contes
Immediate Past Chairwoman 2018
American GI Forum of the United States