Growing up in Northeast Los Angeles, Jose Espinoza recognized at an early age the positive impact the Army could have on him. With 9 sisters and 6 brothers, Jose’s early life helped mold his desire to serve a higher purpose. Joining the United States Army as an infantry soldier at 17, Jose has served a total of 4 years active duty, 26 in the Reserves and National Guard, and speaks fondly of his time in the Service.
Jose was stationed in Germany where he met and married a fellow soldier. Having finished his active duty, he remained in Frankfurt, Germany in the Reserves while raising his son before coming back to Southern California. Being in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, Jose says he felt like he took his freedom for granted having grown up in the States. “I did not know what the sacrifices encompassed until I visited Checkpoint Charlie, and got to look over the Wall.” The experience, for him, put things in perspective, and helped him appreciate the freedoms he has.
Leaving the infantry after 13 years, Jose worked in service support, joining motor transportation. He licensed hundreds of soldiers over a 10 year period as a master driver/instructor. He also worked in Human Resources and Logistics. He feels his time in the Service has taught him how everything works together for the greater good. “When you’re put back in the ‘rear with gear,’ you begin to use your brain to problem-solve in a different manner. I learned you stay until the job is done. You do it with pride. You do it with honor.”
Jose is thrilled to be able to spend more time with his youngest son upon retirement. His advice for those recently ending their military service is to attend the retirement seminars offered. He has kept busy running his own telecommunications business, and hopes to use his military benefits to go back to school to become a geologist. Jose’s lifelong love of art has been able to come full circle, and he creates beautiful scenic/abstract sand portraits, offering to incorporate loved ones’ ashes into them as a memorial. He makes a concerted effort to keep in touch with soldiers who suffer from PTSD, and looks forward to getting more involved in programs to help combat that. He creates metaphysical art pieces to help others heal, and hopes to one day teach veterans how to create art using the same mediums as a form of therapy. “I don’t do it for money. I do it because I wish to help others find peace in this chaotic world.”
Looking back on his time in the Service, Jose says, “in the big picture, know this: any nation worth defending is a nation worth defending. When you put on the uniform, know that you are honorably serving your brother and sister to your left and right, and you are serving the family members of those service members.”