The success of Garifuna leader in New York

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1. Who inspired you achieved so much success serving in the U.S. Armed Services as a Garifuna leader? What specific branch did you serve and for how many years?

What inspired me to achieve my success in the U.S. Armed Forces was my circumstances. I really just wanted to go to college but my parents did not have the money to send me. The military was not even an option for me however the decision that i made to join gave me the opportunity to finish school debt free. I joined the US Navy. I was a Navy Corpsman. My job was aide those Navy and Marines in the battlefield. I served in the US Navy for 10 years.

2. What advice would you give to a young person who aspire to have your success?

The advised I would give a young person who wants to follow my footsteps and be successful is that they he/she needs to know exactly what type of career they want in the U.S. Armed Forces. To be committed to that career and ask for a mentor at their first duty station. To know that is not going to be easy but nothing has been easy for our Garifuna community but we move forward and we thrive that has always been in our DNA.

3. What do you do on the daily basis to keep a healthy lifestyle?

The things that I do to keep a healthy lifestyle is play soccer with my wife. On the summer from Monday- Friday is what we always do. We walk 5 miles a day everyday and we keep our minds and spirit in shape as well by reading the bible and motivational books.


Edson Arzu was born in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala on October 28, 1981. As a child Edson always wanted to be a doctor when he grows up. In 1992 Edson and his two brothers Julio and Christian arrived to New
York City to live with their parents.

Education has always been an important factor in Edson’s life. To
pursue his career in health care Edson joined the US Navy at the age of 19. There he learned how the chain of command works in the military. Military was not easy for Edson but, the experience helped him built character. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom and in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Edson attended Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, Illinois which is equivalent to a Physician assistant in the
civilian sector.

In his second command Edson was in charge of the immunization and pediatric department in Naval Healthcare Ambulatory Care Center in Newport, Rhode Island. Some of Edson Arzu military achievements include: Navy and Marine Achievement medal, Global War on terrorism medal,
Global war on terrorism expeditionary medal, good conduct medal, Battle “E” ribbon, Humanitarian medal, National Defense Medal, Purple Heart medal, Navy and Marine Achievement medal for heroism,
he was also selected for junior sailor of the year in 2002. In 2003 he was named Blue Jacket Sailor of the year which a distinguish recognition among top junior sailors in the Navy.

On April of 2008 Edson was honorable from the military and went back to Bronx, New York City. In New York City Edson attended Monroe College where he obtained his MBA with a concentration in health management.
In Monroe College I learned how to analyze company’s financial statements and how to create a business plan. With the education that I gained at Monroe College I was able to start my own nonprofit organization named Garifuna Veterans of America. Garifuna Veterans of America was established on
December 2012 . My goal for our organization is to identify Garifuna service members that had served in the US Armed forces. Also to create awareness in the Garifuna community in about those soldiers that made sacrifices for this country and for our community. These my way on keeping the Garifuna culture alive , by honoring those who have fought for our freedom and by making sure that we appreciate their sacrifice. We will partner up with Garifuna community leaders to guide our community in the right
direction. I believe that the skills that my team and I posses will be an asset to guide our community to a worldwide cultural recognition. I will use my skills to serve my community in a positive way. I will maintain a “military bearing” when dealing with other Garifuna leaders to achieve a common goal. I will also learn more about my Garifuna culture and engage in every venture to support our custom, culture and way of living. I will take pride in representing my Garifuna culture and follow those leaders who have the same interest in heart.

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