Branch: U.S. Army
Years Served: 2006-2013
Military Occupation: Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (91B20)
Hometown: Anasco, PR
Twitter Handle: @AlexOrtizAdv
Tell us a little about you outside of the military:
- Alex Ortiz has a diverse background in law, accounting, business, and the military.
- A native of Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, he is currently a 1L law student at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law, a 2022 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellow, and a 2022 SVA Student Veteran of the year finalist.
- Before starting his legal studies, Alex served as a wheel vehicle mechanic who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division.
- Then, he transitioned to the private sector, where he worked at FLORES & FLORES Inc. He played an instrumental role in setting broad expansion goals, establishing policies and procedures to promote an inclusive company culture, and leading successful recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.
- As a dedicated public servant, Alex’s passion for service extends beyond his military service, and he is committed to positively impacting society and the community. He is a natural leader, team player, and problem solver committed to helping others reach their full potential.
- Furthermore, Alex is currently working on two pieces of legislation in Puerto Rico aimed at eliminating the taxation of veterans’ retirement income and incentivizing veteran entrepreneurship on the island, demonstrating his dedication to the veteran community and his commitment to making a difference.
- He is a true leader, driven by a sense of purpose and a desire to impact the world positively.
Why are you participating in the fly-in with IAVA?
- Advocating for veterans and speaking to members of congress on veteran issues can help bring attention to the challenges that veterans face, such as access to healthcare, job opportunities, and mental health support. By advocating for veterans, one can work to improve their quality of life and ensure that their sacrifices and service to the country are recognized and honored.
How did your military experience shape you to be the person you are today?
- My Military service had a profound impact on my life and shaped who I became after my service. My personal growth, becoming a leader, and finding a sense of purpose have profoundly impacted my life and who I have become today.
- Most importantly, the community I built while in the army became my family even ten years after I retired. I now find myself advocating and giving them a voice.
Which one of IAVA’s policy priorities do you believe is the most pressing? Why?
- Modernizing the VA Healthcare and Benefits system. VA Health and Benefits have great programs, but they fall through in the implementation and dissemination of information to veterans. This is mainly due to outdated systems and protocols.
Which one of IAVA’s policy priorities do you have the strongest personal connection to? Why?
- Education benefits. My parents’ highest school grade was 5th grade. I’m the only member of my immediate family with a bachelor’s degree and will be the only member to hold a Doctorate. These opportunities have come with challenges, and I’ve had to fight to receive some education and VR&E services. It should be an easy process, but without modernization and training of staff, we often get disqualified from programs. Currently, the delimitation date on the Forever GI Bill is stripping veterans of their hard-earned educational benefits. The Forever Gi Bill must change to include everyone who participated post-9/11.
More #AllStarAdvocacy videos are available in IAVA’s 2023 All-Star Advocacy Fly-In video showcase.