It is an interesting play on words with the term “veteran advocate”. While the subject of this article is an advocate of veteran affairs, I am also referring to her long experience as an advocate for Pacific Islanders and veterans alike. Please meet Terri Guevara Smith, a lady I admire and who has become a friend, from Washington DC.
As submitted to the Guam PDN and printed on December 15, 2014.
One of the things that inspire me the most is meeting long time advocates of our culture. Just over a year ago I met such a lady. Terri Smith had traveled all the way from the east coast to attend the Pacific Islander Festival in San Diego. Friendly and outgoing she mingled with the San Diego Chamorros and joined in weekend events at the Guam Club. I later found out she was a former president of the Guam Society of America in Washington DC. She enthusiastically invited several of us to come to DC and share our cultural projects with the Chamorro community there.
Although I haven’t yet taken up Terri’s invitation, we have kept in touch. This last summer, I joined Terri as she visited Long Beach California to receive her award for Outstanding Individual Leadership by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC).
Then on September 20, 2013, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki appointed Teresita Guevara Smith for a two-year term on the Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans. She will be one of five new minority veterans advising the Secretary on Pacific Islander veterans’ issues. Said Guam’s Congressional Delegate, Madeleine Bordallo, “I always enjoy seeing people from Guam do well and succeed, and I know that Terri will make our veteran community and our island proud as she serves on this important committee.”
Terri Guevara Smith is a former resident of Ordot village Guam, is retired from the U.S. Army, and is a Veteran of Foreign Wars. She possesses what she calls a “taotao tano” (people of the land) spirit that compels her to advocate for Pacific Islanders and Veterans alike. She is a staff member of the National Organization of Chamorro Veterans in America (NOCVA). She is also the Maryland Coordinator and the Advisor on Chamorro Women Veterans. Being part of the Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans will provide her particular influence in advocating for Chamorro Veterans and Other Pacific Islanders.
Says Terri of her advocacy, “The Chamorros are certainly and with no doubt important, the Samoans, Carolinians, Tongans, Chuuckese, Belauans and others in the Pacific Islands are just as important and valuable. I have had the honor and pleasure to serve in the Army with many Pacific Islanders; they took care of me and kept me safe and sound in peacetime and war. Giving back and taking care of Veterans from the Pacific Islands is a pleasure and a great honor.
Pacific Islander veterans are welcomed to reach Terri Guevara Smith at email@example.com.