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Arts and Lectures Series to Host Iraq War Veteran, Gay American Alva

Ferris State University’s Arts and Lectures Performing Artist Series will host Iraq War veteran and gay American Eric Alva on Friday, Nov. 7 at 7 p.m., in Williams Auditorium.

Alva, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 13 years, will share his experiences serving in the military and as a gay American.

“I joined the military because I wanted to serve; I joined the Marines because I wanted a challenge. I was 19 years old. I was patriotic, idealistic; I was also gay,” Alva told the Huffington Post, in 2008.

While serving in the military, Alva injured his right arm and right leg after he stepped on a land mine in 2003. The severity of his injuries led to the amputation of that leg. Alva was the first Iraq War recipient of the Purple Heart, awarded by President George W. Bush.

Post injury, Alva felt compelled to use his voice to advocate for justice. “I had fought and nearly died to secure rights for others that I was not free to enjoy. I had proudly served a country that was not proud of me,” said Alva in his biography on the LGBT History Month.

Alva served as national spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s effort to repeal the military’s discriminatory, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.