(Photo: Getty Images) (Young woman holding a piece of bread close-up, selective focus, focus on bread)

President Obama honors Latino Iraq war vets at White House dinner

Corporal Clara Surita is among 200 veterans and their guests attending a special dinner hosted by President Barack Obama tonight at the White House.

Surita was deployed in Iraqfrom October 2009 through July 2010 as a soldier serving in an U.S. Amy quick reaction force with the mission to respond to combat whenever needed.

“I would do it all over again,” says the 25-year-old. “It’s something to give back to this country where I’ve received nothing but opportunities. I came to this country by myself at 15 from Peru with nothing and no one, and to be where I am right now is incredible.”

Surita says the hardest thing about her time spent in Iraq was the environment,  particularly her small base with its confined quarters. “Going from absolute freedom to a small space is really difficult,” said the war vet.

And her happiest memories serving in the army, Surita explained, came from “learning about myself as a leader and getting respect.”

The dinner, the young vet says, is a gesture from President Obama that she truly appreciates in honor of her service.

“This event is more than enough,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to being able to interact with the President.  

As for her final thoughts on service, Surita remarked that she’s proud to be a U.S. Army veteran and would encourage other Latinos to consider joining.

 “The army is a great way for Latinos to step up – after all, we’re a big part of this nation in a really important way,” says Surita.

“I will serve for the rest of my life until I can’t.”

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