Home LifestyleCareer A Conversation With 3 American Legion Veterans in Hoboken

A Conversation With 3 American Legion Veterans in Hoboken

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States. Dating back to 1947, this day in our country is meant to honor everyone who has chosen to serve our nation and its people. Hoboken is home to hundreds of Veterans, some of whom are involved with the American Legion Post 107. Since its inception in 1920, Post 107 has been a community for Veterans in the Mile Square to come, connect with fellow Veterans, and receive resources often needed during the transition back to civilian life. On the second floor of the Legion, tucked away, is a beautiful gathering space with a bar, televisions, tables, couches, and lots of friendly people. We sat down with two local Veterans, Tim Allen, and Maria Diaz, as well as one current West Point cadet, Kennedy Munz, to hear more about their time serving, their transition after being deployed, how they commemorate Veterans Day, and what they love about being from Hoboken. Read on to see our conversation with these local Veterans this Veterans Day — and thank you to everyone who has served, from all of us on Team HG.

The Decision to Serve

“I think it started with G.I. Joe. I always knew I wanted to serve,” Tim Allen, a West Point graduate who served in the Army for five years, shared when asked how he came to the decision to join the military.

tim allen

^ Tim Allen (right)

Unlike many, Tim grew up to actually go on to achieve his childhood dream. He credited a teacher from his junior year of high school as a further source of encouragement to enlist as well as the unwavering and incredible support of his parents. Similar to Tim, Maria Diaz and Kennedy Munz both had inspiration early on in life that impacted their decision.

Read More: This Hudson County Vet’s Story Highlights the Importance of Community

“Even as a kid, I was always attracted to the military. I relate strength to security and they just looked so strong. I have always been in awe of people in the military,” explained Maria.

For Kennedy, it was her stepfather. He served as a firefighter in 9/11 and she knew she wanted to give back to her community in a similar way.

kennedy munz

^ Kennedy Munz

While their responses sound heroic and definite when first asked, they each had their own hardships in actually following through and gaining support. “At first, my friends said, ‘Yeah, right.’ You know, I don’t think they thought I was serious,” Maria told us as she recounted taking this path.

Growing up in Hoboken in the 70s and 80s, the area looked a lot different than it does today. At 16, Maria moved out of her mother’s home and in with her friend. “I went to Hoboken High School. My grades weren’t the best.” Outside of her daily job at a local pharmacy, Maria knew she needed discipline and structure. The military, she knew, would provide her with that and more.

maria diaz

^ Maria Diaz

Like many other high school students, Kennedy had to choose where she would attend college. She was deciding between West Point and Cornell. After connecting with a few girls at West Point, understanding the sense of community, and hearing more about their experience, she knew this was the choice for her.

kennedy munz

In connecting with both Tim, a graduate, and Kennedy, a current student, the topic of community and support rang true through both conversations when talking about West Point. In fact, Tim helped Kennedy through her application process as the West Point Field Force representative for Hoboken. Kennedy explained that she is not sure of where the Army will ultimately take her as she continues her time in school. For Tim, years before Kennedy would even arrive at West Point, his journey landed him serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Transition to Civilian Life

“I loved my time in the Navy.” This was the first thing Maria said when asked about her transition from the military to civilian life. After being based on an island off the coast of Washington state as a Plane Captain, Maria came back home to New Jersey and started a corporate job.

maria diaz

Similarly, Tim was hired at a bank in the city soon after his time of service concluded. Neither found the right fit in their initial jobs, but cite their military backgrounds and network for ending up happy with where they are now. Tim shared how the West Point community and connection traveled beyond its borders.

“I was riding the bus home and saw a guy wearing a West Point coat. I struck up a conversation and found out we were neighbors.” Little did Tim know that this conversation would land him his next role where he still is today.

For Maria, she knew she didn’t want to continue working as a secretary in corporate America. “I wanted to serve. There weren’t many women firefighters, but I took the test and a physical right after.” Maria now serves the Hoboken community as its first Latina firefighter.

maria diaz

Tim is passionate about getting more Veterans to join the Legion for several different reasons, but one of which is to help with this transition. “The community is incredibly important. You leave the culture and are adapting back to civilian life and that culture. It is difficult no matter who you are.”

tim allen

The American Legion Post 107 is working very hard to provide the needed resources for those who are struggling in various capacities. From those experiencing homelessness, living with PTSD, or in need of a support group, the Legion can help. “I would encourage others to get involved. Donate if you can,” Maria said. As the American Legion embarks on Phase 2 of its housing project, support from the community is vital. The housing projects provide shelter to Veterans in the area living without a permanent address. All apartments are furnished and allow for a safe and stable environment. Maria shared how happy it makes her that Hoboken is proud of its Veterans. Now, we need to come together to support this great resource.

While the decision to enlist and the transition after service may be tough, one sentiment that all three shared was the happiness that they took the oath to serve. “Anyone who tells me their kid wants to be in the military, I tell them to do it,” said Maria. Tim’s advice for young military personnel is to “volunteer for difficult assignments and do the hard things.” He warns about missing opportunities that are presented and being sure to take advantage of all the military has to offer.

Commemorating Veterans Day

“Before high school, Veterans Day didn’t really have any direct implications on my life. Until now, I didn’t see the tangible effects on me. Now I get to interact with my teachers who are in the military currently or have served so I am getting a lot of experience with people who have actually seen combat. It’s something that is very unique to my experience here. Before I came here, I think I could count on one hand the number of people I met in the military,” Kennedy described, as she reflected on the meaning of Veterans Day.

kennedy munz

For both Tim and Maria, pride immediately came to mind. Maria expanded on that thought, reveling in the idea that even those who do not think about military personnel often or take our military for granted are forced to think about it even for a moment on this day. Tim shouted out the Veterans he knows personally, stating, “I have a ton of respect for what they’ve been through,” in referencing those in the Army with him directly.

maria diaz

The community can directly support Veterans and Post 107 on Saturday, November 12th from 1PM-5PM at 902 Brewing Company in Jersey City. Proceeds from the event will support the Phase 2 housing project at the Legion.

See More: Backpacks For Life: Saving Lives One Veteran at a Time

The Hoboken Community

“There aren’t too many of us that were born and raised in Hoboken left here,” Maria stated. Kennedy agreed, saying that she feels very fortunate to have grown up in Hoboken and to have experienced a city feel in a tight-knit community. When asked about some of their favorite spots, Maria immediately cited old staples such as Fiore’s and Leo’s. Tim loves Cork City in town as well. For them, one of the greatest ways to continue on with building community is getting involved with Post 107. Beyond Veterans, there are many ways, all in the area, to be involved with the American Legion and support our Veterans.

The American Legion Post 107 is located at 308 2nd Avenue in Hoboken. To learn more about the Post, to get involved, or to make a donation, click here.

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