Pam Campos-Palma worked to organize against Trump as a candidate, even before the election. As she says, “our vets organizing was part of the tip of the spear before the ‘Resistance’ as we knew it.” And although Trump being elected has awakened new political passions for many, for this air force veteran and daughter of a Honduran mother who grew up working-poor class, being politicized came at an early age.
She has made a name for herself as a political strategist and organizer with an impressive record in international policy and social change. In fact, this hardball military analyst once put Hillary Clinton in the hot seat during the presidential campaign asking her if her hawkish foreign policy and wasteful war campaigns would continue if she were elected president. While Clinton didn’t win the presidency, Sergeant Campos-Palma had also clearly seen an existential threat in the man she always deemed unfit, even dangerous, for the presidency.
It didn’t take long for the media to take note of Campos Palma’s spunk and in 2016, she was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40 Latinos in Foreign Policy” by Huffington Post. Early before the 2016 election, Pam formed part of a movement of veterans who mobilized against Trump’s campaign of bigotry and hate. Immediately after the election she served as Executive Director of a national organization of military veterans, leading campaigns and efforts of progressive-minded veterans and military families, hoping to demonstrate that veterans are not only straight, white, Catholic men, but can be women, gay and Muslim in some cases, too.
She continues this work as an independent strategist, consultant, and speaker working with congressional offices, think tanks, and grassroots organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Using her smarts and leadership skills she has helped military members and veterans reclaim their stories, while building their independent political voice and power in the United States.
The Making of a Progressive Sergeant
Campos-Palma, who was raised in Boston, once said in an interview that growing up seeing injustice and facing racism herself politicized her. As a child, she was pulled out of her neighborhood elementary school to join a gifted class program in a more affluent school. Sadly, a guidance counselor would later dissuade her from going to college, telling her she was “bound for failure.” It was then that her mother convinced her to join the military at the age of eighteen.
“The Air Force gave me a chance to prove myself to myself,” she told MilSpouseFest.com. “It allowed me to thrive as a young intel analyst, be very empowered, and very emboldened.” For over a decade, she worked as an operations intelligence analyst and as an aircrew intelligence trainer, where she served in Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. After that, she began focusing on issues having to do with peace, security, justice, and the strengthening of democracy.
When asked by the Progressive who the person who inspired to do the work that she does as she answered her mother. “A distinct memory I have is being very young and witnessing my mother being harassed and racialized for her Spanish accent and even more often for not speaking English in public […] I was also always amazed at her selflessness in helping others, even when she had little to give. Before coming to the United States, she was drafted at a young age to play professional basketball in Honduras and Guatemala and still holds records today as a prodigal point guard, despite her 5’1″ stature. She is my ever-reminder that, with heart, anything is possible.”