Joe Acosta is one of the hundreds of thousands of Hispanic American veterans that served in Vietnam. After graduating from Arvin High School , Acosta went from working on the farm fields in Bakersfield to the front-lines in Vietnam.
"I was apart of that big draft and I got sent to Vietnam", said Acosta.
Acosta was set to attend UCLA on a scholarship but instead was drafted into the Marines and later transferred to the Army as an infantryman. He says he was drafted during a time when many Hispanic Americans were racially discriminated against.
"I'm the recipient of the bronze star and the soldier that was with me, he was white, he got the silver star for the very same thing I did", said Acosta.
The experience only further pushed him to outperform and prove others wrong. "You need to disprove all those things they say about you and your race and heritage, and the only way to do that is to improve yourself make yourself better". In his pursuit to be the best, he sought to work among elite units and climbed his way up the ranks.
"Here's this Bakersfield farm laborer and now I'm a middle manager in the military responsible for the lives of 30 men. I volunteered for Airborne school and Ranger school and fortunately I was able to get that and prepared me for that military career", said Acosta.
His military career spanned 20 years and it has now turned into a passion in helping fellow veterans.
"We experience the horror of taking human life, and that's the pain that my fellow veterans come to experience and who better than a fellow combat veteran that can say I've been there I've done that.
Acosta counsels veterans at the Bakersfield Vet Center located at 1110 Golden State Avenue. The center is open Monday through Saturday.