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Eric Alva Named NASW Public Citizen of the Year

Texas advocate named for his dedication to improving equal opportunity for lesbian and gay citizens

Washington, D.C. - The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is pleased to name Eric Alva as the 2008 Public Citizen of the Year for his courage in his military career and his advocacy for fellow military personnel who are gay.

Mr. Alva has made a commitment in the effort to repeal the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy.”  This policy discriminates against lesbian and gay persons who wish to serve their country through military service, in that it requires the discharge of any service man or woman who is determined to be homosexual.

Throughout his 13 year career in the military, Mr. Alva served with bravery and dedication.  On March 21, 2003, as he was leading 12 Marines in a ground convoy, he was hit by a landmine, making him the first American soldier injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He spent several months in rehab after losing his right leg, realizing there that he needed to advocate for the disadvantaged.  After his retirement from the military, he enrolled at Our Lady of the Lake University to study social work.

Mr. Alva reached out to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization, on their work to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  He has served as a spokesperson, helping HRC build support for this policy’s repeal.  He appeared with Congressman Marty Meehan on Capitol Hill as legislation was introduced to repeal the policy.

“Eric Alva served our country proudly and returned to advocate for all people to be able to serve America in the military,” says Dr. Elizabeth Clark, executive director of NASW.  “He is making strides for the gay and lesbian community in the name of social justice.”

To interview Mr. Alva, please contact NASW Communications at  For more information about NASW, please visit

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NASW is the largest association of social workers in the world. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers.  NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.