polonio E. Muñoz III was born and raised in Kingsville, TX, a small town about 30 mins South of Corpus Christi, TX. In grade school Apolonio was nicknamed “Apple” by his friends as a way of shortening his name into something that was easier to pronounce. Apolonio still goes by Apple to this day in various settings, such as work and school. While in high school Apolonio was an active member of the H.M. King High School JROTC, Armed Drill Team and Honor Guard, obtaining positions as a Squad Leader, Platoon SGT, BN S-2 and finally taking on the position as BN XO. Apolonio demonstrated great aptitude for Military procedure, attention to detail, and ability to train and lead, that he was encouraged to pursue a career in the U.S. Army.
Apolonio left his home town in South Texas shortly after graduation, beginning a proud and honorable life serving within the U.S. Army. Apolonio began his training at the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Center in Ft. Jackson, SC where he was assigned to A CO, 3rd BN, 13th INF RGT. After the completion of Basic Training, Apolonio went on to the U.S. Army Signal School located in Ft. Gordon, GA where he was assigned to C CO, 447th SIG BN, 15th SIG BDE where he graduated at the top of his class. Upon completion of his job training, Apolonio went onto his permanent assignment at the Historic Cambrai-Fritsch Kaserne in Darmstadt, Germany. There he served as a Radio Telecommunications Operator (31R) with the B CO, 440th SIG BN, 22nd SIG BDE, V Corps. While at B CO, 440th SIG BN, Apolonio was elevated to the rank of E-4/Specialist and to the position of Assist Team Leader for C32 Small Extension Node In March 2003C32 came on order to deploy to Iraq in support of combat operations. While in Iraq C32 was attached to HHT, 2nd ACR (Armored Calvary Regiment), where he ran a communications site in the heart of Baghdad, Iraq, until March 2004. While on this deployment Apolonio was nicknamed “Money” by his Team Leader, as he found solace in on-line shopping to help relieve stress of being in war-torn Baghdad. Shortly after his return from Iraq, Apolonio was faced with the decision to leave the U.S. Army where he had served honorably and selflessly from October 2001 to June 2004. This decision was a difficult one for him to make, however with the DADT Policy he had no choice. In June 2004 Apolonio took an honorable discharge for being a homosexual, which at the time was incompatible with military doctrine and moral.
While back home in South Texas Apolonio attempted to pursue an education, but found some difficulty in concentrating which he found years later was related to him having PTSD, Apolonio then returned to the workforce where he worked for several notable private security firms such as US Security Associates in Corpus Christi, TX and IPC International in San Antonio, TX. In November 2007 Apolonio made another life decision, to relocate to Southern California and start life over. On November 9, 2007 Apolonio boarded a one-way flight from San Antonio to Los Angeles, CA with only the unknown ahead of him.
After a few weeks in Los Angeles, Apolonio came across a job lead for a security position at The Salvation Army Bell Shelter. It wasn’t till Apolonio showed up for training that he was informed that due to his computer experience the management felt he would be better suited to serve as a Case Manager in their Winter Shelter Program. Apolonio worked with 70+ homeless individuals to provide much needed assistance such as referrals to housing legal and medical resource providers. When the contract that funded the Winter Shelter Program ended Apolonio was asked to take on a permanent position in the Veterans Dept under the main shelter program. While working for the Veterans Dept at Bell Shelter, Apolonio started to find his true calling in life. He discovered that he could utilize his life experiences to do something for his fellow Veterans. Apolonio worked closely with the Los Angeles Veteran community assisting his fellow Veterans find employment, housing, and other services to aid them in becoming productive and independent members of society. In February 2009 Apolonio discovered that his controversial life-style was starting conflicts certain members of the management, and was contradictory to the views of the Salvation Army.
Knowing there are more Veterans who needed his aid, Apolonio joined the National Veterans Foundation (NVF) in March 2009 to assist the Veteran Community at a national level through the NVF’s Life Line for Vets. At the NVF, Apolonio utilizes his knowledge of the VA system and various other Veteran programs to assist his fellow brothers and sisters in arms receive all that is due to them for their selfless service to their country. Apolonio is not afraid to fight tooth and nail to see that a fellow Veteran is being treated justly and receiving all the services that is due to them. What drives Apolonio is a saying he lives by, “They fought for us, so we have to fight for them.” In January 2010, Apolonio worked with the NVF management to revitalize their community outreach efforts. In addition the NVF’s crisis hotline, they also had been operating a Homeless Veteran Outreach Program, where the staff would venture out to locations around Southern California and hand out food and supplies to homeless veterans they would encounter.
With the Community Outreach, Apolonio was able to influential to the NVF revamping its training, education, and employment programs. The first was a newly adopted training module on basic financial skills designed especially for servicemembers. With the collaboration of the NVF, State of California-Employment Development Dept, National Financial Educators Council, US Vets, and SASSFA, Apolonio was able to coordinate two day long financial workshops to approximately 100 Veterans free of charge. As the NVF’s Outreach Coordinator, Apolonio attends numerous veteran resource fairs, Stand Downs. Apolonio represents the NVF on the following Boards & Committees: San Gabriel Valley Veterans Employment Committee (Treasurer, Public Relations), Southern California Veterans Employment Committee (Public Relations), 211 LA County-Veteran Advisory Council (Member), Greater LA Collaborative on Veteran Homelessness (Member).
In August 2010, Apolonio took another crack at returning back to school. This time around he chose to attend University of Phoenix and enroll in their Bachelors of Human Services Program. Apolonio is currently about 60% done with the program, and is looking forward to continuing his education after by enrolling into a Masters of Social Work program either at Phoenix or one of the local Southern California Universities.
Despite all the work Apolonio was doing at the NVF he had a part of his life that was being neglected. He had been doing great work to bring the resources in Southern California to the Veterans he served, but he felt that he was doing his fellow LGBT Veterans an injustice. Apolonio joined two notable all-volunteer organizations. The Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which takes on a mission to “To Promulgate Universal Joy and Expiate Stigmatic Guilt!” The Order strives to strengthen the community through drag activism, by raising much-needed funds for community charities, and by bringing about a better understanding of gay spirituality. The LA Sisters also work to unite the various factions of the Southern California lesbian and gay community and raise drag awareness among individuals, businesses, and organizations that are often ignorant or even hostile to members of the drag population. In October 2010, Apolonio joined the LA Sisters and took on the name of Novice Sister Mariposa Patriota. Novice Sister Mariposa (Mari) has been working to bring the plight of the LGBT Veterans to light, and let them know they are not alone. Currently she is completing the requirements to becoming a Fully Professed Member in the Order.
Apolonio in his free time continued to seek out his LGBT Veterans hiding from society. It was through the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) that Apolonio was able to link with other LGBT Veterans, and meet several of whom where integral in the history and eventual repeal of DADT. While attending the National Conference which was held in Albuquerque, NM in October 2011, Apolonio was moved to do whatever was needed to revitalize the dormant Los Angeles Chapter. After a few months, the Greater Los Angeles Chapter was formed, and the initial Board asked Apolonio to serve as their first President. Apolonio recently took on the additional position as Membership Chair on AVER’s National Board. Apolonio feels at home working with AVER, and is striving to bring the hiding LGBT Veterans out of the wood work. Once they are out Apolonio with the help of the other AVER-GLA board members will foster a safe haven for those Veterans impacted by social inequality.