Staff Sergeant ERIC ALVA, born today, was the first U.S. military service member injured in the Iraq Occupation. He was in charge of eleven Marines in a supply unit when, on March 21, 2003, he stepped on a land mine, losing his right leg. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1990 at the age of nineteen. He is a native of San Antonio, Texas.

He works with Democratic representative Martin Meehan of Massachusetts and, with a bipartisan group of representatives to Capitol Hill, reintroduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding homosexual conduct. Alva also served as the Grand Marshall of the 2008 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride parade held in June 2008.