PORT ARTHUR - According to the Army and Marines, military enrollment among Hispanics is at an all-time high right now, many of those enrolled are first generation Mexican-Americans.
“It was tough living in Mexico, so we've decided to come here,” says Rogelio Pena.
Rogelio and his wife Ofelia moved from Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico to the United States over 20 years ago, and one of the things they are most proud of is seeing their youngest son join the military.
“We love our son, we're so proud of him,” says Rogelio. “He decided to serve for a country that has given us a helping hand,” he explains.
Tears came down the mothers’ eyes as she spoke to her son.
“Not being able to talk to my family has been the toughest parts,” says their son Christian Pena, who is currently in North Carolina stationed with the Marine Corp.
For over a year, he's been missing out on those family conversations in the living room.
Christian is one of the growing number of Hispanics who have joined the military..
According to military data, Hispanics compromise about 18 percent of those enlisted in the marines today, a nearly 15 percent increase since the Iraq war.
Those like Christian are now one of the largest percentage of any minority groups in the military, something his mother says brings honor to his entire family.
“I’ll always call him "mi héroe" [ my hero ],” says Ofelia Pena, mother of the marine.
Christian is a hero whose family crossed many boundaries, to give him the opportunity to serve.
His father Rogelio became a U.S. citizen years ago, he says he is proud to be able to participate in this year’s upcoming elections, keeping in mind his family and his son.
(© 2016 KBMT)