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Expanding Hispanic leadership in sea services

By retired Rear Adm. Will Rodriguez, U.S. Navy

Early in 1980, the United States Navy was concerned about the lack of Hispanic representation within their officer corps—specifically their senior officer corps—and the lack of Hispanic applicants for officer programs.

Troubled by this situation, then Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Edward Hidalgo, established the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO) composed of Hispanic officers that could reach out to attract qualified Hispanics to apply to the sea services' officer programs. Over time, ANSO grew to include not only Hispanic officers, but also Hispanic enlisted members of all three sea services – the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – as well as the Merchant Marines.

It is estimated that by approximately 25 years from now, 30 percent of the U.S. population will be of Hispanic descent. In order to keep up with the country’s changing demographics, ANSO continues to support the sea services in reflecting the “face of the nation,” specifically in the senior officer and enlisted ranks. It has grown to 14 chapters throughout the country, with the main purpose of supporting its members locally.
To work towards Hidalgo’s goal, ANSO provides mentoring and career development opportunities to foster professional growth. The organization has directly assisted Hispanic service members in being selected for a number of commissioning programs, promotions and other opportunities for professional growth within their respective career paths.
“Above all else, our dedication to our Hispanic shipmates is founded on the belief that we will help them become the best-qualified candidates as they climb their respective career ladders of success,” said Rodriguez.
Further, ANSO has directly supported a number of Hispanics members in their decision to remain in their respective services. The organization has also helped those who separate or retire to find outside employment. Once members leave the sea service, they are still able to receive numerous veteran benefits through active participation in mentorship events and networking opportunities offered by ANSO.
In addition to supporting the Hispanic men and women of the sea services, ANSO members volunteer in support of local communities to grow the Hispanic youth of today to be tomorrow's leaders.
The ANSO chapter in Washington, D.C. recently supported the National Internship Program of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities by facilitating mock interviews and providing resume reviews for students. ANSO volunteers also shared the career paths and benefits of the sea services.
“It is incumbent upon ANSO to connect with the Hispanic youth of this country to prepare them to become leaders of tomorrow and present to them the positive role models of our sea services,” ANSO National President, retired Navy Rear Adm. Will Rodriguez said.
ANSO has been directly responsible in supporting the sea services’ recruiting efforts, including awarding a number of Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Immediate Scholarship Reservations. 
ANSO credits its success in part to the organization’s annual program. The program consists of a number of one-day working-level symposia collocated with one of the local chapters. The symposia are designed to provide members with career management support and one-on-one mentoring sessions with senior officers and senior enlisted members.  
The next symposia are scheduled for the spring of 2016 in the Southern California area. Retired Rear Admiral Will Rodriguez, National President may be contacted for further information at

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