One Door Closes and Another Opens

As I sit here surrounded by the executive leadership of the California Veteran Community.  It’s day 2 of the CalVet Leadership Summit,  a gathering of the Senior and Executive Level leaders of US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, CA Veterans Affairs, the County VSOs,  DAV,  American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America,  Swords to Plowshares, VetFund Foundation, other Veteran Service Organizations from around the state.  I’ve never seen every VA Medical Center and Regional Office, and County  VSO in one room at the same time.  The newly appointed CalVet Secretary, Dr Vito Imbasciani MD called this summit to identify barriers faced by the Veterans of California and create strategies and alliances to better serve the Veterans.  The Secretary and other leaders have set a tone of leaving politics and agendas at the door.

I was asked to attend and represent the LGBT Veterans in the State. The timing of this Summit couldn’t have been more perfect.  I was laid off from my position at VOA as a Peer Support Specialist in the HUD-VASH Program due to lack of funding. With my experience of being an underemployed and homeless Veteran I have an insight in the struggles of the Veterans that most of these leaders don’t know first hand.  At first I asked myself why am I here?  I don’t belong in this room surrounded by these executives with travel budgets and resources to give up a week to travel to the Capitol. However, some how The gods smiled down on me and made this opportunity possible.

When I return back to LA,  I’ll be using the contacts made here to plan the upcoming Operation: Do Ask,  Do Tell 2016 and establish resources and programs for the Veterans in LA,  and possibly find a new position working to continue to serve LGBT Veterans not only in LA but across the State.

“War Comes Home: Shad Meshad”

My past employer, The National Veterans Foundation, sent me this link this morning. It’s an interview of one of my personal heroes and mentors, Shad Meshad an Army Vietnam Veteran who now dedicates his life to helping Veterans and their families cope with the struggles of coming home after war. As a young man barely 19 years of age, I was sent to Iraq to bring freedom to people I knew little about & told I would probably die for my country. I was scared out of my mind, and was lucky to come back home. As a kid, you are tried to react to the stress of combat, and you encounter many things that the normal person only reads about or sees on TV. That is something that you never forget. To this day I still have nightmares about dead bodies on the side of the road, in crumbling buildings or bombed cars. The sweet stench of death and burning flesh is something you never forget.

However, the home I came back to didn’t feel like home. This was back in 2004, when I was kicked out of the Army for loving a man, and they gave me the boot immediately after my deployment. I didn’t get a chance to completely debrief, as they say. My life was on the line for an entire year, I lost a good friend, I protected the men and women who where at my side. And when I loved a man, I was told thank you for your service, but we don’t want you anymore. When I came home it took me years to not freak out from the sound of a door close. I still have problems with crowds, people I don’t know and fireworks. I know I’m a mess, but I’m a work in progress. I’m also working on fixing myself so I can once again love a man, and accept his love in return.

Everyday I bare the scars of war, and the scars of being outcast for loving a man. So, I thank Shad for giving us a little insight as to what our Veterans really go thru. I know first hand what its like, and if it wasn’t for people like Shad, I don’t know if I would be alive today.

War Comes Home: Shad Meshad:

Apolonio E Muñoz III | C: 818.281.6060 |

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Religious Families Are Disowning A Record Amount Of Homeless Gay Teens | The Gaily Grind

After reading this article I’m truly saddened that this is happening. W as modern Americans can’t allow our youth to be kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the streets. I remember when I was growing up in my home, I moved out at the age of 16, when my father and I would fight constantly. I knew then I was different, and hadn’t come out to myself. I remember him calling me faggot and saying that my friends only wanted me around so they could rake turns on me. It wasn’t until several years later that I even felt comfortable with a man, I fought my true self for years, getting engaged at the end of my senior year, and again in the Army.

We have to create a loving and safe environment for our kids to to grow up in. If we are disowning them in the name of a religion that is supposed to be based on love and acceptance, what message are we truly giving. This is part of the reason why I created Sister Mariposa, she exists to spread joy and acceptance in a world that is cruel. If she can help at least one person, then she can die a happy nun.

Religious Families Are Disowning A Record Amount Of Homeless Gay Teens | The Gaily Grind.

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