Soto’s Vigiano Family Hope and Courage Award video: https://youtu.be/nEunQSywu5s
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (October 31, 2023) – San Antonio, Texas, resident U.S. Army Master Sgt. Raymundo (Ray) Soto was recently named a recipient of the Vigiano Family Hope and Courage award at the Hope For The Warriors Got Heart, Give Hope Gala.
Soto was one of three Vigiano Family Hope and Courage award winners, presented by U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and U.S. Marine Col. Barney Barnum. He was recognized for his service and as a Team Hope For The Warriors athlete who continues to showcase his honor, courage and commitment to our nation, his fellow peers, and leadership. Soto continues to inspire and encourage his fellow veterans with their fitness goals in Texas and beyond.
“Perseverance is a word that immediately comes to mind when I think of Ray,” said Robin Kelleher, Hope For The Warriors co-founder and CEO. “He didn’t let a medical diagnosis define his civilian life. He persevered for the active life he craved and previously enjoyed and continues to inspire and train other veterans with the same goals.”
Named in honor of the Vigiano family, who lost both of their sons in the September 11th attacks, the Hope and Courage Awards are presented to service members and military family members who have demonstrated both hope and courage in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
“I had a military mentor who once told me, don’t do anything for an award, do it because you mean it and believe in it,” shared Soto. “To be nominated and recognized by such a large organization is truly an honor as my intent was to never receive an award, but to help in any way I can. This award means to me that Hope For The Warriors cares about people, follows their successes and recognizes those who truly embody its principles and values.”
Being a member of Team Hope For The Warriors has great value to Soto.
“I am a better person because of Hope For The Warriors. I have made lifelong friends and have crossed the finish line with so many veterans that no longer look back to the negativity and fear they once had. My personal connection is that I no longer lose HOPE, I look forward to every day, every race and every interaction with anyone from Hope For The Warriors.”
Retiring in 2018, Soto served in the U.S. Army for 23 years. His most recent assignment was the Senior Enlisted Advisor for CENTCOM (Central Command) Detachment 4, providing intelligence in support of operations in the Middle East.
His previous positions included a Military Intelligence Instructor and a Civil Affairs Linguist. Soto’s overseas tours include a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo from 2001 – 2002 and two combat tours in Afghanistan; 2003 – 2004 and 2011 – 2012.
On December 12, 2003, near the Pakistan border, he was the driver of an armored vehicle which struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). As a result of the attack, Soto suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with insomnia, hearing loss, migraine headaches and chronic lower back pain.
After returning home, Soto’s chronic lower back pain resulted in a diagnosis that could have prevented him from running. However, after years of self-rehabilitation to reduce the reliance on medications, he has run 25 marathons and completed six 50K ultra marathons.
Soto’s military awards include the Combat Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, five Meritorious Service Medals and many others.
Today, Soto is an active member of several San Antonio running groups where he mentors/trains veterans wanting to run distances from a 5Ks to marathons. He also enjoys the outdoors with his son and spends therapeutic time with other veterans with outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing.
“The camaraderie involved with these activities brings me joy and fills the void many veterans feel after retirement and/or returning from combat,” shared Soto.
Soto resides in San Antonio with his wife, Roxane, and son, Zachary. He also has grown daughter that resides in South Texas with her family and Soto’s first grandchild.
For more information on Hope For The Warriors, visit hopeforthewarriors.org
About Hope For The Warriors: Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a foundation of stability, strength and community for post-9/11 veterans, service members and military families. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 159,000 through a variety of support programs focused on providing financial, career and educational stability; physical and emotional strength; and social support that builds community. One of the nonprofit’s first programs, Military Spouse and Caregiver Scholarships, has awarded 232 scholarships to caregivers and families of the fallen. For more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.