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On Wednesday, November 10th, Axios justice and race reporter Russell Contreras discussed ways to commemorate the contributions of fallen heroes and the importance of public policy that supports Latino veterans in civilian life after they have served, featuring Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Hispanic Veterans Leadership Alliance board member Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin.

Rep. Ruben Gallego recalled his experiences serving in the military and discussed the government’s role in protecting and honoring those who have served in the armed forces.

  • On the need for military representation in Congressional leadership: “The less people you have in the military that serve in Congress, the less people you have to keep the Department of Defense in check. At times, I’ve seen members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, be way too deferential to the Department of Defense, to generals, not calling into question things that really should be called into question. They should be part of our oversight.”
  • On changing military base names to honor Latino heroes: “The military is growing more and more diverse...especially when it comes to Latinos in the military. We need to have some type of base that’s named after Latino heroes, so that way they have someone to look up to…”

Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin illustrated her experiences as a Latina woman in the Air Force, why reforming the military environment is a meaningful goal, and how her father inspired her career in military service.

  • On the personal impact of a conversation she had with a fellow young Latina enlistee: “I realized that I was a role model and that not only were people watching me to see if I succeeded or not, but the people watching me, and I guess even silently rooting for me to do well, those were my fellow hermanas, and Latinos in the service. She made a real difference to me in how I carried myself.”
  • On the significance of having more high-ranking Latino officers in the military: “I never worked for a woman until I had been in the service 18 years at the Pentagon, and I had never, ever worked for a Latino or Hispanic officer. I think that's important, because the people coming up in the ranks need to see themselves in the leadership, I never saw that. It is really hard to be what you cannot see.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

House passes annual defense bill

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted to pass the annual defense bill 363-70 on Tuesday night, authorizing nearly $770 billion in funding for defenses and national security programs.

Why it matters: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) still has to clear the Senate, but the House passage greatly increases the chances that the must-pass defense bill will move through both chambers of Congress before the end of the year.

Dec 7, 2021 - World

Biden huddles with European allies on Ukraine ahead of Putin call

Putin in the Kremlin. Photo: Grigory Sysoyev/Sputnik via Getty

President Biden will seek to convince Russia's Vladimir Putin in a phone call Tuesday that the price of invading Ukraine would be steeper than anything he's faced in the past.

Driving the news: Biden held a call on Ukraine this evening with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., while Secretary of State Tony Blinken called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to offer America's "unwavering support."

WarnerMedia-Discovery merger faces questions over Latino programming

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas). Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) want the Justice Department to review closely a proposed merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery over concerns it could limit programming and opportunities for Latino creators.

Why it matters: Castro has been leading a campaign to pressure media companies to hire more diverse staff and produce more programming with people of color. Media mergers could make that more challenging.