Born and raised in Arizona, Raul Sanchez joined the Arizona National Guard at 17. He found himself, like many young people, needing a sense of discipline and direction.
His mother had raised him to believe in himself and knew that he could create his own story. Based on the trust that she had in her son, she gave him her blessing and Sanchez began a 10-year journey. He was attracted to the military because of the opportunities, and the National Guard was no exception.
Sanchez has deployed many times in his decade of service, including Kosovo, Afghanistan (twice). While deployed in Afghanistan, Sanchez worked as a Financial Management Technician and was also in charge of Outserve: Afghan, serving more than 400 active military members.
“I organized groups and brought together soldiers that have had no support in their life during the military,” says Sanchez. “It was in Afghan that I found who I was as a man and a human being. I spent every waking moment creating culture and positive leadership, which is a pivotal and important moment in my life.”
As our Grand Marshal representing OEF veterans, Sanchez remembers Afghanistan as the origin of his own leadership development. It was during his service in OEF that he learned to trust himself, as his mother had, and found the strength inside of him to inspire others to have courage.
Sanchez later changed his specialty to Media Engagement Specialist and deployed to Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba, where he worked with every media outlet assigned to GTMO. During his tour, Sanchez was chosen for a secret mission as a Combat Cameraman on the island and received a Letter of Commendation from the Naval Commander of Guantanamo Bay.
As a leader, Sanchez brought his positive culture to others serving with him. In civilian life, he continues to follow the same convictions he developed in service. In life, Sanchez takes every opportunity to make an impact on others, encouraging them to be strong and stand by their own convictions.
He currently lives in Phoenix and works diligently in the LBGT community to spread his belief in the power of one’s own self-worth. He also assists with St. Jude’s in his off-time. Sanchez, who has a culinary degree, is pursuing his Bachelors in Business while working as a general manager for a well-known restaurant in the Valley.
In all endeavors, Sanchez believes, “Dream of what you want to do and then do it!”
We hope you will join us at the 21st Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2017, to see all our Veteran Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “SILENT SACRIFICE: Honoring Our Cold War Veterans.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.
For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE.