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Continued | Somos Uno: Bay Pines VA Veterans, Staff Champion Equity for All

Two men stand in a courtyard, on a sunny day, wearing business casual attire. They are both smiling, and standing back to back with their arms crossed over their chests.
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System's Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Specialists Obed Muniz (left) and Jovany Morales-Estada (right) are both retired Veterans. They are part of a four-man team whose military service, and cultural heritage, allow them to support staff as VA continues working toward Inclusion, Diversity, Education and Access, for all.

In honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System is proud to recognize the members of our Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office by honoring their service to our nation, their heritage, and their commitment to EEO.

Their experiences in the military and beyond taught them that a team is only as strong as its weakest link, and sparked an intrinsic belief that people are best when they’re afforded every opportunity to reach their full potential.

Jovany Morales-Estada, U.S. Army Veteran, retired

Morales-Estada has been a VA champion of diversity and inclusion (D&I) for nearly four years, but the importance of this concept was sparked in this Purple Heart recipient long ago.

“I became involved in EEO during my time in the military. While serving in the U.S. Army as a Hispanic soldier, I experienced discrimination,” Morales-Estada shared. “I requested training to become an Equal Opportunity Advisor, and after I was qualified, I took on the additional duty of ensuring that the workplace was reflective of our nation’s diversity.”

After 22 ½ years of honorable service, and multiple combat deployments, the former motor transport operator hung up his uniform but took his values with him.

“I consider it to be one of the highest honors to be of service to others, especially my fellow Veterans,” Morales-Estada shared. “I am honored to be an American and I’m also very proud of my heritage as a Puerto Rican Veteran, who is part of a proud tradition of service.”

Obed Muniz, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran

At Bay Pines VA, equity means ensuring staff do not have to search for opportunities to advance in their career but instead, are provided ample opportunities to grow. Muniz and the rest of the EEO team encourage this growth through consistent self-improvement that generates the most value for the VA mission, its goals, and all those we serve.

“For many of us, when we no longer have to wear the uniform, we still crave the camaraderie we developed with our brothers and sisters in arms,” the former motor transport operator shared. “I entered the VA taking an oath, just as I did in the military, prepared to execute my duties to the best of my abilities.”

In his daily role, Muniz joins his colleagues in ensuring that every employee, regardless of their race, religion, color, gender identity, national origin, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, or disability receives the same opportunities to succeed.

“My time in service and my job today both influences how I interact with my colleagues and those in the community,” Muniz continued. “On the battlefield, American men and women sacrifice their lives to maintain and protect our civil rights. Being part of EEO is a way for me to enlighten myself and others.”

For more information about how VA is working to foster an environment of equity for all, please click here.

From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System joins the nation in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. This is the second half of a two-part series that highlights the staff who help make our mission of serving those who served, a reality.

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