National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2002
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National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2002

Wisconsin Reservist Named One of Military's
Top Hispanics


Throughout his life, Maj. Joseph Almodovar has never been one to let anything keep him down or prevent him from achieving his goals in life. As a youngster, Almodovar, a reservist with the 440th Airlift Wing, Gen. Mitchell International Airport Air Reserve Station, Wis., was raised in what he describes as a “challenging barrio” on the north side of Chicago. Despite all of the difficulties that kind of environment presented, he overcame them all to forge a successful career in the military.

All of his hard work paid off in May when Almodovar earned distinction as one of the top 12 Hispanics in America’s armed forces for 2002. He received the recognition from National Image Inc. during its 14th annual Salute to Hispanics in the Military awards banquet in Las Vegas May 30.

Wisconsin reservist named one of military's top Hispanics National Image is an organization based in Denver that is dedicated to dealing with education, employment and civil rights issues affecting the nation’s Hispanic population.

Alberto S. Rocha, chairman of the organization, said the awards recognize the “best of the best” among Hispanic Americans inuniform.

“Our community has always been, and continues to be, willing to pay the price to keep America free and strong,” Rocha said.

Almodovar said he is proud to be part of that rich tradition.

During the early part of Almodovar’s life, his family lived in a working-class neighborhood in Chicago that had its share of urban problems, including poor schools.

“We moved out of there into more of a middle-class area around the time I was in the fifth grade,” he said. “The educational opportunities were much better.” After high school, Almodovar enlisted in the Marine Corps. He left the Marines in 1979 and served with the Air Force Reserve’s 928th Tactical Airlift Group at O’Hare Air Reserve Station in Chicago from 1980 to 1984. In 1988, he joined the Army National Guard and earned a commission. Almodovar went back to the 928th in 1994 and moved to his current position — he serves as chief of finance and accounting services for the 440th — in 1997.

“The military has opened doors of opportunity for me, and I feel blessed,” said Almodovar, who as a civilian works for the A.T. Kearney Co. as its director of global human information systems. “The only way I can feel fulfilled is to give back to America, especially the Hispanic community.”

And give back he does. Almodovar is a former executive vice president for the National Society of Hispanic MBAs. He raises funds for the Summer Enrichment Program in Chicago, a program that prepares Hispanic high school students for college entrance exams and application processes, job interviews, and more. He has also served on the Sears and Roebuck corporate diversity council and was a founding member and first president of the Kraft Foods Hispanic Employee Council.

Within the 440th AW, Almodovar serves as chairman of the Human Resources Development Council.

“I do all these things because I believe there a huge amount of untapped potential in the Hispanic community,” Almodovar said.

(Information for this story provided by Lt. Col. Ken Warren, 920th Rescue Group public affairs, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and Capt. Ann Peru Knabe, 440th AW public affairs)

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