About The American GI Forum
The AGIF is dedicated to addressing problems of discrimination and inequities endured by Hispanic veterans. Through the efforts of many of the organization’s early leadership, the AGIF grew to other states and has chapters throughout the United States. Though predominantly Hispanic, the AGIF is a fully interracial U.S. veterans and family organization.
In 1998 on the 50th anniversary of the organization, the U.S. Congress Chartered the American GI Forum as a Veteran's Family Organization. The AGIF has maintained a leadership role in many communities and has gained respect among all ethnic groups.
The AGIF has been in the forefront in civil rights struggles, such as advocating for Hispanic Veterans Benefits, desegregation of schools, voter registration, fair judicial proceedings, and combating media stereotyping and distortions.
The AGIF/US formally convenes at an annual conference held at different parts of the Nation. Educational and training workshops, corporate exhibits and job fairs are held and attended by delegates from throughout the state, as well as government and corporate representatives. Position papers, resolutions and proposed solutions are generated. These papers address issues of concern within the Hispanic community. These, presented at the National Convention are distributed so that action is assured on all issues.
The American GI Forum of the US is comprised of AGIF State Organizations. Elected officers are elected at the annual national conference. The National Board of Directors is comprised of the elected officials and AGIF State Organizations Commanders and Chairwomen.
The AGIF maintains a National Headquarters located at: 635 W. Corona Ave., Suite 114, Pueblo, CO 81004, (719) 299-4838.
The AGIF National sponsors and supports the following programs in the U.S.:
- AGIF National Archives
- National Veterans Outreach Program
- SER, National Jobs for Progress
- Hispanic Education Foundation
To provide information and motivation on education, scholarships and post secondary educational opportunities.
YOUTH LEADERSHIP AND MOTIVATION
To establish AGIF Youth chapters; to train youth in leadership and motivation values; to help with their education through academic and trade scholarships, to promote better career opportunities
To establish communications with corporations and job placement organizations, to assist with job training referrals, and to ensure equal employment opportunities.
To enforce, defend and protect the civil and human rights of Hispanics, women and other minorities and to ensure equal opportunities as mandated by federal and state laws.
To provide input on enforcement of legislation that protects the rights of Hispanic veterans, their families and other minorities concerning affirmative action, benefits from social and educational
The American GI Forum is the largest Federally Chartered Hispanic Veterans organization in the U.S. With Chapters in 40 states and Puerto Rico. The AGIF also supports other Hispanic organizations, such as LULAC, NCLR, IMAGE, HACR and many others. AGIF also has a Corporate Advisory Board (AGIFCAP) that helps with technical advise and financial support.
“Education is our Freedom and Freedom Should be Everybody’s Business”
Out of the days of World War II arose stories of valor of America’s young men and of hope and renewed idealism. As millions of veterans returned home, many looked to the GI Bill of Rights, which guaranteed educational, medical benefits, housing and other basic benefits. But these benefits were being denied in large part to Americans of Mexican decent and other Hispanics throughout the Southwest. This aroused a young Army veteran, Hector Garcia, a medical doctor from Corpus Christi, Texas, and in 1948 he was inspired to rally his former comrades-in-arms. Thus was born the American GI Forum of Texas, dedicated to address problems of discrimination and inequities endured by Mexican American veterans.
The Forum soon became a civil rights advocate for all Hispanics and broadened its activities to include other states and promote greater participation in civic affairs. In spite of its limited resources, the Forum made giant strides through the sheer force of dedicated leaders and hard working members, including the Women’s and Youth chapters, whose participation has helped strengthen the Forum’s structure.
The American GI Forum has been in the forefront of major civil rights struggles. Desegregating schools, initiating voter registration drives, demanding fair judicial proceedings, especially in Southwestern states, and speaking out against media stereotyping and distortions were of major importance. In the sixties, a number of forward steps were taken which benefited Latinos, especially Mexican Americans, the largest group concentrated in the Southwest and Midwest. A Mexican-American Commission was formed under President Lyndon Johnson and Mexican-American appointees served on the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Civil Rights Commission, and Dr. Garcia himself served as Ambassador to the United Nations. Other presidential appointees included federal district judges, appointments to state and local levels were also won and since that time, Hispanics have become a vocal and visible political group.
In 1983, President Reagan became the first President to address the National Convention of the American GI Forum. He acknowledged the military records of Hispanics in this country’s defense, dating back to the American Revolution. More than 40 Hispanics have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He also acknowledged the Hispanics appointed to high government positions.
Hispanics have achieved success in many fields—education, science, arts, business sports—they opened many doors before closed. Still, many of the struggles for simple justice still continue. Bilingual Education needs major attention. Employment continues below National levels for Hispanic. Training programs for the under-educated are in critical need. More advancement in mid-level and upper management positions needs to be achieved. Improvement in the quality of life, economically and socially, is still the dream and the goal for many Hispanics.
Hispanics have always benefited from deep cultural roots, traditional values and an abiding religious faith, which have sustained and strengthened them. In this context, there can be no question that “we are our brother’s keeper.” If there is one human rights violation anywhere, we all suffer the consequences.
It is especially important that our collective wisdom and resources be brought to bear in our struggle for equal opportunities and justice. The American GI Forum will continue to serve as a significant rallying point as demands and needs are expressed by its members. Let us give our best for God, country and ourselves.
Official Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
LORD, Make me an Instrument of Thy Peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Oh DIVINE MASTER, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console, to be understood, as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to ETERNAL LIFE. Amen.