Recognizing Hispanic American Heritage amongst the ranks

by Jay Townsend

Hispanic-American Soldiers have served in the U.S. Army for more than 236 years in support of the nation.

The representation of Hispanic-Americans on active duty has increased by 10 percent during the past 30 years. In 1985, it was three percent, and in 2016 it is 13.7 percent.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a major Army command comprised mostly of civilians.

Typically in a USACE Command there are a few Army “green-suiters” that make up the command team, aside from that the number of Soldiers begin to dwindle.

SWD has two additional Soldiers that serve alongside the division’s 85 civilians. Both of those Soldiers happen to be Hispanic Americans.

Lt. Col. Rene Rodriguez, operations officer, is an Army Reserve Soldier and 1st Lt. David Sanchez, military personnel officer is a Texas National Guard Soldier.

Both are serving on orders in the Southwestern Division.

Rodriguez, from Farmersville, Texas joined the military 17 years ago.

While reflecting on his career Rodriguez said “the Army has provided me with advanced training and a wide array of leadership opportunities that will give me an edge when my military career is over.”

Sanchez, a Los Angeles, California native said he joined because he wanted to serve for those who couldn’t.

“It’s a privilege and honor to serve our country. I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience the pride and comradery that comes with putting on the uniform,” said Sanchez.

Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Rodriguez and Sanchez said they were proud of their heritage and the role Hispanic-Americans have played in the Army and Corps’ history.

USACE Galveston District’s Employee Spotlight on Bryan Williams

GALVESTON, Texas (Oct. 4, 2016) – While attending classes at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama, Bryan Williams was approached by an Army recruiter who inquired about the career field he was pursuing. Enrolled in general classes, Williams told the recruiter he would have to think about it and get back with him.

Determined to provide him with an answer, he reflected on his past educational experiences and found the answer in the least expected place – his high school year book.

The inscription below his senior photo read, “My future goal is to work in finance or to become an accountant.”

“I really enjoyed working with numbers at that point in my life and I decided to go with it,” said Williams. “To this day it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Williams began his career in Army, serving more than nine years on active duty as a finance technician. After an honorable discharge, he worked in finance for three military bases across the country (Fort MacDill, Florida; Fort Irwin, California and Fort Eustis, Virginia) before relocating to Galveston, Texas, in 2011 to work in the Resource Management Office.

“I started off as a Department of Defense intern in the comptroller field and, following my internship, was offered a permanent position as a budget analyst in the Resource Management Office,” said Williams.

One of the assignments Williams is most proud of was the role he played in implementing the new USACE Financial Management System Time and Attendance module in fiscal year 2015, while temporarily assigned to accounting.

“This opportunity provided me with a better understanding of the accounting side of the house as opposed to only doing budget,” said Williams. “Working outside of my comfort zone definitely broadened my experience and I felt good about an achievement that wasn’t in my current job description.”

Responsible for all general and administrative expense accounts, he is also the point of contact for all district funding from Funding Authorization Documents Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request and remains busy throughout the year finalizing quarterly budget reports and preparing for new fiscal year requirements.

Williams earned an Associate of Science in Network and Security Management from East Coast Polytechnic Institute University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with focus in Finance from DeVry University. He earned his Level II Department of Defense Financial Management Certification and was recognized by Maj. Gen. John Peabody, commander of the Mississippi Valley Division, for his efforts in implementing the time and attendance module. When he is not ensuring the accuracy of funding within the USACE, you can find him spending time with family, riding his motorcycle and playing basketball.