Fil-Am veteran Gina Ortiz Jones nominated US Air Force undersecretary

United States President Joe Biden nominated Filipino-American Gina Ortiz Jones for undersecretary of the US Air Force on Tuesday, April 27.

If the Senate confirms her, she will become the first woman of color and Filipino-American to serve in that role.

Ortiz Jones, 40, served in the Iraq war from 2003 to 2006 before running as the Democratic nominee for Congressional District 23 in Texas in the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Lesbian in the military

Ortiz Jones has spent her career “working to protect US economic and national security,” the White House wrote in a statement

The openly gay veteran served multiple positions in intelligence work, and performed military operations advisory roles after serving as an Air Force intelligence officer. She served in the military during an era dubbed as “don’t ask, don’t tell” – when queer service members were forbidden to be public about their sexuality.

Ortiz Jones also had a stint in foreign investment, leading the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) portfolio in the Office of the US Trade Representative.

During her 2018 congressional run, Ortiz Jones said she would prioritize “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants brought to the US as minors. She said in an Inquirer article that her Republican opponent Will Hurd had been silent about the issue.

In 2020, she committed to fight for quality and affordable healthcare, public education, and the creation of good-paying jobs in the Texan district that shared a border with Mexico.

She lost both 2018 and 2020 races to her Republican challengers.

On her public Facebook page, she advocates for LGBTQ+ and Asian American rights.

From an immigrant family

In an October 2020 interview with El Paso Times, Ortiz Jones talked about her mother, Victorina Ortiz, who immigrated to the United States more than 40 years ago as a domestic helper. 

Victorina, a native of Pangasinan, raised Gina and and another daughter by herself, working multiple jobs and long hours. She taught the girls to give back to the country that had “given them so much.”

“Her example and our Catholic faith have guided my life of public service,” Gina said in the interview.

She said this lesson is why she and her sister chose their career paths – with Gina in the Air Force, while her sister in the US Navy.

“It's a privilege to be an American citizen, and I'm in this fight to protect the American Dream,” she said in a September 2020 Facebook post.

– Rappler.com

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.

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