Staff Sergeant Eric Fidelis Alva (born December 19, 1970) was the first Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War. On March 21, 2003, he was in charge of 11 Marines in a supply unit when he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg. He began working as a spokesman for theHuman Rights Campaign in 2006.
In February 2007, he joined Democratic Rep. Marty Meehan of Massachusetts and a bipartisan group of House members when they reintroduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, legislation that would repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy regarding service in the U.S. armed forces on the part of gays and lesbians. Alva then served as the Grand Marshall of the 2008 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Pride parade on Sunday, June 29, 2008. On July 23, 2008, Alva testified about DADT before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. He said: "Unit cohesion is essential. What my experience proves, they are wrong about how to achieve it. My being gay and even many of my colleagues knowing about it didn’t damage unit cohesion. They put their lives in my hands, and when I was injured, they risked their lives to save mine." He described intimate living conditions while stationed in Somalia. He also reported conversations with military personnel from other countries in which they uniformly expressed surprise that "our Nation is so further behind others when we seem to be the forefront of trying to be the example."Alva currently serves on the Advisory Board for SPART*A.
LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have contributed significantly in several ways to the advancement of our community. Limited by the number of days on the calendar, showcasing every individual who has made a major impact would be difficult. Yet, across decades and eras, revolutions and wars, and discovery and enlightenment, SPART*A honors past and present LGBT figures in our history this month.