BATON ROUGE, LA (LOCAL33) (FOX44) – The Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs has been doing its part to better the lives of local female veterans and it’s all thanks to the help of Alex Juan.
For many joining the military is a family tradition.
“When I was in high school I met my ROTC instructor at Jefferson High school. He did so much for us and helped us in ways that go above and beyond. So he really inspired me and took me under his wing,” said Juan.
But that wasn’t the case for Alex Juan.
Both of my parents immigrated here so it’s not like anyone in our family ever served.”
“At the time we weren’t living in a great place. It didn’t really seem like I would be able to get out of the poverty or the situation that I was growing up with, and he pulled me aside and said you know what there’s a better life out there for you. And he taught me about the core values of the Air Force and that’s all I ever wanted to do. So I conned my dad into signing when I was 17.”
Juan enlisted in the Air Force in the security forces filed, a field that was predominantly male.
“And at the time there really wasn’t women in that field, so it was kind of an uphill battle and having to prove yourself constantly that you could fit in. When I first came full-time there was me and 56 guys.”
Now, Juan continues to be a pioneer for women veterans in her role as the first female veteran to be named Communications Director with the Louisiana Department of Veteran Affairs.
“ Female veterans experiences, both in the service and how they re-integrate once they get out, are completely different than our male counterparts. So we need to have someone there that can advocate for them differently.”
Juan also created The women Veterans Outreach Program for the state, another first for the department.
“It’s a small step in letting my female veteran counterparts know one, we see them, we recognize their value and service, but also that we’re doing things to make their lives better.”
Juan said she plans to continue to raise the bar and break barriers to better the lives of female veterans.
“The main goal has always been I want to leave this world better than I found it. If I can do anything, if I can use my voice, my pain, my joys, trials, tribulations, whatever to help that happen I’m happy to share that with the world. I’m happy to continue to work to make sure that the next female that comes up doesn’t have as hard of a time doing so.”