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DOWNEY – Rewind almost 31 years ago: Javier Becerra was on his way to an Army recruiting office with his brother who was about to enlist. With no intentions of joining or any previous considerations about becoming a part of the Armed Forces, he walked out an enlisted man.
Little did he know that this decision would end up being his career.
As a graduate of Bell High School, Becerra spent his adolescence in Bell until he moved to the Downey community in 1994, where he’s made his home with his wife and children. Becerra enlisted at the age of 19 and by 20 he was out on his first deployment.
He has dedicated the last 30 years to a career that he loves, rising to the rank of Sergeants Major (E9). He has served as the chief of human resources in the HR department and has provided his support to both the infantry and medical platoons that came across the three chemical plants that were under the protection of the US Army.
Becerra’s deployments have been unique and different from the typical combat veteran for that reason; he has never been deployed overseas for direct combat.
Even though he was stationed locally in the US, this still was strenuous on his family and personal life as he was not free to take the leaves that would normally come into play because his job did not permit it. Becerra states that the difficulty dealing with serving is “being away from the family, knowing that you have a job to do while still supporting them.”
His biggest supporter and the person that he gives thanks for is his wife. Without her ongoing support and the support of his son and daughter, it would have been difficult to continue with his chosen career path.
Along with his involvement in the human resources department, Becerra also contributed his time as a recruiter for seven years, served two years after that in Sacramento, and is now currently dedicated to the 40th infantry division in Los Alamitos.
His expected retirement date is in October of this year.
In terms of providing advice for anyone considering in enlisting in a branch, Becerra states that “all branches serve the same purpose,” the important thing is to find “what you want to get out of it”. His future plans as he looks towards retirement are getting the opportunity to “eat at the table every night with my family” and “spending time together without any limitations.”
He also plans to join corporate America because at the age of 50, he still wants to be as active as possible.
If given the opportunity to relive the last 30 years of his career, he says he would do it all again and “not change a thing.”
“Coming Home: A Veteran’s Story” is a project between the Living Tree Foundation and the Downey Patriot, with the goal of telling the stories of local veterans. If you are interested in telling your story, contact Julie Garcia at (562) 884-8683 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published: Aug. 7, 2014 – Volume 13 – Issue 17