Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Jason Diaz, who served as a fire support specialist and as a military police officer.
Jason Michael Diaz grew up in Queens Village, New York, as the second oldest of four brothers. He joined the New York Army National Guard in March 1997 when he was 19.
As a child during the 1980s, Diaz was surrounded by many people in his life who were in the military, including both parents, aunts and uncles. They helped influence his decision to join the National Guard. He grew up with the mentality that the military was important and it was something he wanted to do. One of the main reasons that kept him connected to the idea of joining the military was because his father was ill with cancer. Insurance was not covering his treatment expenses, and St. John’s University, the college he attended, was more expensive than he anticipated. Although Diaz did not join for the educational benefits, they were a plus.
He attended Holy Cross High School in Flushing, New York, from 1991-1995. Diaz had planned to pursue a four-year degree but only attended one year of college due to his father’s illness. He attended St. John’s from 1996-1997, Queensborough Community College from 2000-2001 and Thomas Edison State University from 2010-2011. He then graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in history.
Diaz was a traditional Guardsman from 1997-2001, enlisting as a fire support specialist. He then became an active Guardsman from May 2001-May 2020 and reclassified as a military police officer. He notes the terrorist attack of 9/11 as one of the moments he remembers the most. His unit was only four miles from ground zero. Diaz knew something big was going on, but communications failed because of the attack. He recalls it being chaotic and feeling like he was waiting a million years for guidance until his unit took the initiative to find a way to help. It was one of the most challenging missions that he and his unit were tasked with so close to home.
Diaz also deployed to Iraq, where he served two tours, first in 2003-2004 during the invasion of Iraq and again in 2010-2011 nearing the end of major combat operations. During his service in Iraq, Diaz received several awards.
Diaz is grateful for his opportunity to travel during his time in the military. He visited Italy, Germany and multiple states, where he met many friends in what he as a “tight-knit community.” Diaz retired as a sergeant first class in May 2020 and resides in Florida with his family.
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Writer: Jessica Alvarado
Editors: Annabelle Colton and Theresa Lyon
Fact checker: Anthony Mendez and David Charles Deprez
Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley