Airman credits Panamanian roots for military success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Breonna Veal
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This feature was written in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 - Oct. 15.

According to the U.S. Air Force Personnel Center, there are 324,820 active-duty Service members or approximately one percent of the U.S. population, currently serving around the globe. Of that American minority, active-duty Airmen of Hispanic or Latino descent make-up 12.8 percent of that number.

As part of the 12.8 percent, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Justo Scott, Air Combat Command Security Forces contingencies and deployment manager, said he strives to bring diversity, skill and perspective to the military through his Panamanian heritage.

Scott's military lifestyle began in the third grade when his father enlisted in the U.S Army and moved his family from Juan Diaz, Panama, to the United States of America.

"When I moved to the United States, it was a big culture shock," said Scott. "Everything, even church services, was different."

Leaving family and friends behind can be difficult, but leaving loved ones and starting over in a new country can be daunting. Scott said that having his immediate family to rely on eased the transition and brought them closer together.

Throughout his father's military career, Scott and his family moved over the years to locations including North Carolina, Guam and Texas. His parents used the close family bond to impart their heritage in values upon their children.

"My mother and father made it point to instill their traditions in [me]," said Scott. "A deep sense of family responsibility, loyalty, honesty, respect and a hard-working mentality are all values deeply embedded in my culture and have helped me throughout my life."

Following in his father's steps, Scott enlisted after graduating high school. Now 18 years later, Scott has travelled across the world forging a new heritage.

Now with a family of his own, Scott guides his children as his parents guided him. Scott teaches his children the significance of morals, ethics, heritage and the ability to speak, write, and understand Spanish. He said it's important to never forget where your heritage began.

Scott said his passion for his family also extends to his wingmen.

"I see the Air Force as my family," said Scott. "I want nothing but the best for Airmen and for them to succeed. I make it a point to share as much knowledge and information that I can with my Airmen."

Scott said he takes pride in sharing the values of his heritage with his Airmen. He hopes they help his Airmen succeed as they have helped him.

"I think the foundation instilled in me by my parents has helped me become the Airman I am today," said Scott. "I make it my daily goal to take pride in the uniform, display integrity and continue dedication to service."

Scott said sharing cultures not only strengthens individual Airmen, but also strengthens the Air Force as a whole.

"It is so important for Airmen to share their heritage because the diversity they bring is an integral part in finding solutions to daily challenges. Diversity strengthens military. It is important for us as Airmen to embrace and increase our understanding of diversity as a tool to enhance unit cohesion."

Scott said he plans to continue to strengthen the Air Force while keeping his heritage close to his heart.

"Even though I have lived in America for a majority of my life, I never forget where I am from," said Scott. "I love my culture. I'm a firm believer in not forgetting where you came from and remembering your roots."