DVIDS – News – Soldier strives to unify local community


JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va .– In June 2020, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Israel D. Lopez was called to a meeting by one of his former commanders. Lopez’s battalion was emerging from the end of George Floyd’s death. His CO wanted to give him and a assembled team the opportunity to talk about the incident and its effects. At the end of the meeting, Lopez’s former commander left the team with a challenge.

“So now that you’ve spoken, what do you want to do?” ” He asked.

The meeting ended.

Those words were what prompted Lopez to begin his community service efforts and later be recognized as Military Citizen of the Year.

Lopez is an aircraft pneumatic repairer assigned to 1st Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment, stationed at Fort Eustis as a training developer. He is also his battalion’s equal opportunities chief and the unit’s public affairs representative.

Despite his demanding jobs, Lopez invested more than 1,000 hours of personal community service throughout 2021. He designed projects to strengthen unity and created partnerships with local organizations such as the Do-Gooders of Hampton. Roads, Community Knights and Barrett-Peake Heritage. Foundation.

Lopez has a vision.

“My vision is that we can use this event as a stepping stone to public service,” Lopez said. “Because we’ve been able to partner with so many organizations, what we’ve made possible is that if you have a passion, we can help you find that passion or help your unit get involved in it. things and people that they may not necessarily have connected to themselves.

According to Lopez, he believes in his work and its impact because serving the community is important, especially as a military person.

“At the end of the day, everyone in the military is a leader. Even if you don’t see it, there are people in your community who admire you, because you wear this uniform, ”Lopez said. “Once you step into the service, you become little more than the average citizen. “

Lopez experienced this impact firsthand.

In November 2020, Lopez and his unit were working clearing a graveyard overgrown with grass and weeds in Hampton, Virginia. The cemetery had long been left without care.

Lopez was helping pitch a tent when a woman came over from a nearby bus stop to have a conversation with him.

“Hey, you come here every month, don’t you?” ” she asked.

Lopez took a break from work. – Yes ma’am, he said.

“Why?” the woman questioned further,

Lopez replied, “It’s just something we do ma’am.”

The woman burst into tears. Lopez listened in awe as the woman explained how she had family members in this same cemetery where they worked.

“These kinds of stories make it easy to go back each month. You don’t get them all the time, but when it does, it’s amazing, ”Lopez said. “It all becomes this huge learning moment through the power of affirmative action and what you can do when you apply yourself. “

Lopez’s hard work during the year 2021 was recognized and he won the title of Military Citizen of the Year.

“I wasn’t looking for a price, that was the last thing I thought about when we got this idea,” Lopez said. “The thought that I would be considered Military Citizen of the Year, I cannot thank my Commanding Officer enough. You never know how far something is going to go until it happens. I happen to have a great command team.

According to Lopez, this award means that the efforts of his battalion count. While Lopez may have won the name award, he genuinely believes he belongs to his battalion.

Lopez’s vision remains strong and continues to strive to unify the community.

“Find something that excites you. At this point it’s not work, it’s something that you do because you care, ”Lopez said. “It will never become too much, for it will just be part of who you are.”

Date taken: 06/01/2022
Date posted: 06/01/2022 14:35
Story ID: 412549

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