NCHV is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Rita and Carlos Martinez, of San Antonio, TX, at the hands of COVID-19. One of the things that is most true about nonprofit leadership is that the entire family serves and supports the organization. Carlos was the President and CEO of The American GI Forum’s National Veterans Outreach Program (AGIF NVOP), since 1974.  His wife Rita was by his side during his 46 years leading AGIF NVOP, where programs grew into a comprehensive set of services for veterans, including shelter, permanent housing & employment assistance spanning several cities across the state of Texas.   
A veteran of the United States Air Force, Mr. Martinez was a man who served his country during the Vietnam Era and spent his life serving his fellow veterans. His humility and innovative spirit enabled him to create programs that allowed veterans to leave homelessness and unemployment for better circumstances. NCHV is particularly grateful for his longstanding friendship and leadership in our national efforts to end veteran homelessness, including as an active member of the NCHV Board of Directors. 
The American GI Forum National Veterans Outreach Program serves thousands of veterans every year through a variety of social services, and it also offers housing for the elderly through its three housing complexes, creates jobs for disabled individuals through its wholly-owned Veterans Enterprises of Texas (VETS) Box Manufacturing, and the VETS Sheltered Workshop for Disabled Veterans that produces Retirement Commemorative Kits for the U.S. Army worldwide. 
Mr. Martinez has previously served as a Member of the VA’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans and the Advisory Committee on Veterans Readjustment. Mr. Martinez has also performed past service on the U.S. Department of Labors’ Veterans Employment and Training advisory committee, the Women Veterans Advisory Committee, and the State of Texas’ Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee on the State Veterans Homes. Mr. Martinez has been invited to testify before Congressional Committees on numerous occasions and has had the opportunity to discuss major veterans’ issues with five Presidents of the United States. 
Mr. Martinez is a graduate of Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, and Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). Mr. Martinez is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force having served four years during the Vietnam Era. 
“It’s impossible to measure the contribution that our dear friend Carlos made to our NCHV team. His leadership and compassion for homeless veterans made us so much stronger,” said Steve Benz, Chair of the NCHV Board of Directors. “We will honor his service by working tirelessly, just as he always did, to fight to end homelessness for the people he cared so much about.” 
“Carlos was a Giant among men, especially Veterans who he tirelessly helped through his Congressional Chartered organization, American GI Forum. An Air Force Veteran, holder of numerous awards and presidential accolades, Mr. Martinez accomplished opening a box manufacturing company that hired not only Veterans but other disabled persons in need of employment,” said Ralph Cooper, Founding Member, NCHV. “He and I were on many Presidential appointed Committees working for homeless and disadvantaged Veterans across this Nation. He went about his duties humbly and without fanfare. A Veteran National Hero, a faithful Husband and Father. God bless the Martinez Family. May Carlos & Rita Rest-in-Peace.” 
“Carlos, thank you for showing the way so many times over these many years, you are missed,” said Bill Elmore, Founding Member, NCHV. 
 “Carlos’ smile filled any room he was in and his life’s work filled the lives of so many with hope and success they never dreamed possible. It was my honor to call him my friend,” said Robert Van Keuren, Founding Member, NCHV. 
“I know in my heart that he wants us to continue his love of service to veterans,” said Interim President and CEO Yolanda Suarez. “It will be a bumpy road ahead for us all but with his continued support from paradise, we will prevail.” 
“I’m very grateful to have had the experience to work under such a fine breed of a man. He can never be duplicated, and his work ethics was off the chart. I’ve had the personal experience to be by his side just me and him and can’t to many employees can say that. “said Seth Jarmon, Outreach Navigator at AGIF NVOP. “Just his presence made you feel like you were on top of the world. I am deeply saddened by his lose but he would want us to continue to carry the torch for those that are less fortunate. That’s just who he was. And the last interaction that we had he agreed with me on our food pantry to feed the homeless and it’s still in operation as we speak. He didn’t take credit for he gave it to me. That’s a real man.”  
“Carlos was an innovative leader who brought resources to bear for a community of veterans that was left behind.  He will be remembered as a great mentor, a giving person who cared deeply about his team and the veterans his organization served, and someone who always had a kind word and encouragement for anyone facing a setback, said Kathryn Monet, CEO, NCHV. “The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is better for his involvement on our Board of Directors and his organization’s membership. As we all strive to honor his life, let us be inspired toward greatness by being a little more like Carlos in our dedication to improving the lives of those around us.” 
Carlos leaves behind a strong legacy of service that improved the lives of thousands of veterans, and will truly be missed. We extend our sincere condolences to his family, his team at AGIF NVOP, and all of those who had the honor of knowing, partnering with, and learning from him. 
For more information on funeral services and condolences, please see the American GI Forum tribute to Mr. Martinez.