Human+Kind: Armando's Story

Armando. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER

Armando. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER

Migration affects the lives of millions across the United States, the Americas, and globally. The Human+Kind project seeks to highlight the stories of migrants in the US-Mexico borderlands and the work of humanitarian organizations to support them, including the work of the Red Cross. For more from this project, please click here.

My mother brought me to the United States from Mexico in 1973. She told me I had to go to school to become a better person. There was a military base near my high school. I told my mother I wanted to become a soldier so I did.

I feel very proud that I served in the United States Army. I spent 6 months guarding Pershing missiles, stationed in an observation post 7,500 feet above sea level in Germany near the Alps. I was a squad leader. We would remain on duty for 72 hours without rest, we would get relieved for 24 hours, and then return to the observation post for another 72 hours. We all survived and accomplished every mission. I was a warrior.

I was deported in 2001. I live with my brother in Tijuana and I can’t work. I have had four knee operations. I have no cartilage in my left knee and it’s very painful. I need another operation but I can’t afford it. I’m a veteran and I have my benefits card but I can’t return to the United States to get the medical care I need. I hope to get a humanitarian visa [that temporarily grants authorized entry into the United States] so they can operate my knee and I can work again. I can’t get it done in Mexico — I’m broke.

I’m a soldier, pure and simple. I am fighting for my nine-year-old son. I have no way to support him. He’s hungry and it breaks my heart. My son deserves better than this.

Armando. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER

Armando. PHOTO CREDIT: CARLOS RODRIGUEZ, RED CROSS VOLUNTEER

When I raised my hand and took the oath to protect my country, [the United States,] it was a moment that I will never forget. No one can take that away. It was a total surrender to a country that originally wasn’t mine [because I was born in Mexico], but that I vowed to defend with everything I had. It takes guts to enlist and serve on the front lines. I served with honor, love, and integrity. If they asked me to re-enlist today, I would do it.

I never became a citizen when I had the chance. I was young and didn’t realize how important that was. If I had [my American citizenship], I wouldn’t have been deported. After completing my six years, I received an honorable discharge. I think I have earned my citizenship.

There is peace and harmony in the United States because of us veterans. I ask the President to help us return to our homes. We belong there. It’s not much to ask. I just want to go home.