Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
My name is Ramiro Navarro Jr. but call me “R.J.” for short. I’m the proud son of a migrant Farm Worker and a Tejana School Teacher. I’m an Oregonian born and raised and have lived in Keizer most my life. I was a 63B, Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic, in the Army for 3 years. Did one deployment to Talil, Iraq in 2009 and experienced the traumas of combat for many years after. When I decided to return to school in 2013 for Business Management, I worked at Chemeketa Community College as the Veterans Representative on the Student Council. I took an opportunity to gain business management training and with that certification I hoped to run my own farm. More specifically, a farm similar to the one I worked on as a youth in Bonanza, Oregon. I gained employment to experience first-hand the different aspects of farming that I was unfamiliar with and quickly worked my way up the ranks to a management position. From planting and maintenance to harvesting and canning, I enjoyed working the different aspects of the farming industry in Salem, Albany, Keizer, St. Paul, McMinnville and Newberg for years. Raising 2 toddlers I became a metal fabricator so I could stay closer to home. Still volunteering here and there I was recognized for my work in the community and offered a position as the Veterans Program Coordinator at Project ABLE where I continue to work today.
“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.“— General Douglas MacArthur
Since first attending college, I’ve been a voice that veterans can depend on.
My first year at Chemeketa I was promoted to the position of President of the Veterans Club, hired on as Veterans Representative and organized many events to raise funds for the Veterans Lounge and other events on campus.
Why do I do this?
Struggling with mental health, addiction, divorce, recidivism, homelessness and unemployment are all very real consequences of deploying to a combat zone. I should know. What I’ve noticed though is how some have consistently failed our Veterans with policies that weren’t written by veterans with lived experience but in a manner to line pockets. I’d like to put a stop to frivolous spending as I did while deployed, stopping private contractors from price gouging the American tax payers, and make sure we fund evidence-based supports for those who serve.
Here’s are a few questions to ask in hopes of understanding what’s going on:
If your answer was the Veterans for all three questions, then you are CORRECT! Unfortunately this is the world that I struggle against everyday. Civilians telling Veterans how they should feel, case managers telling Veterans what they are experiencing and organizations/contractors/landlords doing what they can to make every penny they can off our most vulnerable with absolutely no empathy because of policies we have in place that allow them too.
I’m blessed work in a field that truly understands people struggling with trauma, but I can only do so much from my current position and it’d be my honor to do so much more as your Representative. Thank you for your time, your support and your contributions. Hopefully we can do more work together to give our Veterans the better quality of life that they deserve.