ABOUT USOut of the days of World War II arose stories of valor of America's young men and women and of hope and renewed idealism. As millions of veterans returned home, many looked to the GI Bill of Rights, which guaranteed educational, medical, housing and other basic benefits. But these benefits were being denied in large part to Americans of Mexican descent and other Hispanics throughout the United States.
This aroused a young Army Major veteran, Hector P. Garcia, a physician from Corpus Christi, Texas, and in 1948 he was inspired to rally his former comrades-in-arms. Thus was born the American GI Forum dedicated to addressing problems of discrimination and inequities endured by Hispanic veterans.
The Forum, its Women's and Youth Auxiliary Forums, soon became an advocate for all Hispanics and broadened its activities throughout the states to promote civic affairs.
The American GI Forum Founder Dr. Hector P. Garcia, MD was recognized by the Nation for his work in service to America and was presented the country's highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.
Following, Dr. Garcia's pioneer work for veterans and in public affairs was further recognized by the United States Treasury issuing a new series of Savings Bonds with the $75 Bond bearing Dr. Garcia's portrait.
The Forum's motto is: "Education is Our Freedom and Freedom should be Everybody's Business." This concept is the basis for two of its largest programs: the Veterans Outreach Program (VOP) and Ser-Jobs for Progress, Inc. (SER). VOP is based in San Antonio, Texas, providing employment training & employment, and counseling for veterans in the Southwestern U.S. Local chapters carry out outreach activities affecting their communities.
SER has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas. The SER Board of Directors has representation from the American GI Forum, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and major corporate sponsors. Local SER affiliates operate employment training centers, residential and other services in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico.
The American GI Forum today continues to be a beacon of hope and an avenue for involvement for the returning veteran and/or the ordinary citizen aspiring to improve conditions within his own community. Local, State and National Conferences continue to promote and move forward an agenda put forth in 1948 for the betterment of all citizens and by the American GI Forum.
Picture above, Pete Magana 1951, courtesy of the Magana Family