AGIF Completes Their 63rd Annual Conference
The American GI Forum of the US concluded its 63rd National Conference in Albuquerque, NM (July 13-17, 2011). During the National Conference the American GI Forum worked on expanding its footprint in the local area. The American GI Forum collaborated with local agencies in a veteran’s job fair; they coordinated with Washington governmental agencies to provide speakers and intertwined all this with their internal business. The Sheraton Uptown was the official hosting hotel.
The 2011 Heroes Hiring Heroes Veterans' Job Fair was sponsored by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services, Adelante Development Center, Inc., the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, the New Mexico Veterans' Business Outreach Center, and the American GI Forum of the United States . This event took place on July the 14th at the Hotel Albuquerque. There were close to 2000 veterans attending the hiring fair with over 75 employers. The American GI Forum was proud to collaborate with all the local agencies
Speakers from different governmental agencies included; the Honorable Christine Griffin, Deputy Director Office of Personnel Management; the Honorable Steve Muro, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs National Cemetery Administration, Dept. of the VA; the Honorable Junior Ortiz , Deputy Assistant Secretary Dept. of Labor; Ms. Stacy Vasquez, Deputy Director Homeless Veterans Imitative Office, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dept. of VA; VADM Melvin G. Williams, Associate Deputy Secretary U.S. Dept. of Energy; Mr. Kevin Secor, Veteran Service Organization Liaison Officer, Dept. of the VA. and others. From the New Mexico state government the Honorable Tim Hale, Cabinet Secretary Dept. of Veterans’ Services and Mr. Lloyd Calderon, Director NM Veterans Business Outreach Center. Mr. Michael J. Mahoney, Associate Director, Division for Strategic Human Resources Policy, Mr. David Schettler, Deputy Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs National Cemetery Administration
Presenters on July 13-15th Veterans Training workshops included: Ms. Sonja Brown, Chief Voluntary Services & Public Affairs Operations NM VA Health Care System; Mr. Clifford Shields, Director Santa Fe National Cemetery, National Cemetery Administration Dept. of the VA; and Mr. Ismael (Milo) Garcia, LISW, Team Leader, Readjustment Counseling Services Santa Fe Vet Center.
The three-day 63rd National American GI Forum Conference was well attended with delegates from several states. They were privileged to have in attendance Veterans from WWII. At the Thursday luncheon we honored: Fortino Gonzalez, member of El Squadron 201 (Mexican fighter squadron that flew under the American flag); Mr. Keith Little, member of the Navajo Code Talkers; Mr. Ernesto Montoya, survivor of the Bataan Death March; Mr. Louis Tellez, Mr. Alfonso Sanchez and Mr. Robert Sanchez, WWII Veterans.
Keynote luncheon speakers included; Mr. Junior Ortiz, Deputy Assistant Secretary Veterans Employment Training Dept. of Labor speaking on behalf of Secretary Hilda Solis, Dept. of Labor who was called back to Washington DC, and Ms. Anna Escobedo Cabral, 42nd Treasurer of the U.S. The Commander’s Banquet keynote speaker was Mr. Larry Romo, Director of the Selective Service System. A special Commanders’ award was presented to Raul Tapia, Attorney-at-Law, DC in recognition for his work on the PBS’s The War. Mr. Tapia negotiated the final agreement with Ken Burns to include Hispanics in the documentary.
Mr. James Maestas, Denver Central Chapter, Denver, CO received the highest award a member of the American GI Forum can receive the “Dr. Hector P. Garcia” Award for his more than 45 years of service to the American GI Forum and veterans.
The 63rd conference ended with Omaha, NE being selected as the 2012 conference site and CO the 2013 conference site. Elected officers for 2011-2012 are: National Commander Albert Gonzales; Vice Commander Angel Zuniga, Secretary John Naverette, and Treasurer Cipriano “Cip” Griego. Women officers are Chairwoman Alicai Rodriguez, Vice Dora Gonzales, Secretary Kathy Clenin and Treasurer Betty Manchego. The elected officers will continue to advocate for and address veterans issues and all resolutions approved by the National Conference assembly.