SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
We all had lives before that day when we raised our right hand and vowed to defend the Constitution of the United States. Although we are united through our service, we all have a heritage and unique story to tell.
For Senior Airman Teresa Guzman, 4th Force Support Squadron self-assessment program manager, personal heritage is something to celebrate, both in and out of uniform.
In addition to serving, Guzman is an active member of the SJAFB Hispanic Heritage Committee. Guzman and her family are Puerto Rican, but she was born in Perth Amboy, a small town in northern New Jersey.
“I chose to be a part of the Hispanic heritage committee because it is important to me to share my heritage with others,” said Guzman. “Puerto Ricans are very proud and welcoming. We love to share our customs with the world and this is an opportunity to educate others in a way that allows us to express ourselves.”
Her grandfather began visiting the U.S. in the 1950s to seek better opportunity for his family.
“At that time my grandparents lived in a small wooden house by a river in Ponce, Puerto Rico,” said Guzman. “Eventually in 1971, my grandfather decided to move the family to the United States.”
Guzman’s grandparets had ten children and had to seek work inn factories to be able to support their family after arriving to the U.S.
“Despite starting off their new lives here underprivileged, they always talk about how happy their upbringing was,” said Guzman.
Additionally, Guzman is not the first person in her family to serve in the military, her father, one of her uncles, and one of her aunts also served.
“My father was an Army cannon crewmember,” said Guzman. “My uncle joined the Army infantry right after high school.”
Guzman’s aunt served six years in the Army and continues to aid the military by working in military affairs at a state veteran’s home.
The closeness Guzman shares with her family and their shared heritage is also attributed to their religious values.
“My grandmother was a devout catholic, who attended mass a few times a week,” said Guzman. “She would gather the family some evenings to pray the Rosary together and keep our faith strong.”
Guzman said that she values faith above all, the importance of family, and hard work. Guzman also believes that diversity and inclusion help improve the Air Force.
“Diversity and inclusion benefit the Air Force because it gives the Airmen a sense of belonging,” said Guzman. “Airmen bring new perspectives and backgrounds to the table, expanding knowledge and strengthening wingmanship.”
Guzman wants to continue her Air Force career past her current enlistment and plans to remain an advocate for the Hispanic heritage committee. The committee sponsors events around base to share the Hispanic and Latino community’s culture and to celebrate their heritage.
“This is the first year I have been part of the Hispanic heritage committee but I look forward to continuing to be an advocate and inviting others to celebrate my heritage as well as their own,” said Guzman.