JP’s Robert Santiago is Boston’s First Puerto Rican, LGBTQ Veterans Commissioner

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Boston's new Commissioner of Veterans’ Services will be the first-ever Puerto Rican to hold the position, as well as the first LGBTQ person, and he's a Jamaica Plain resident.

Jamaica Plain resident Robert Santiago was named Boston's Commissioner of Veterans’ Services in April 2019.

"I am grateful to Mayor Walsh for this opportunity to serve the veterans of Boston," said Robert Santiago. "I remain dedicated to promoting the Mayor’s agenda to serving all veterans no matter the zip code, status, or orientation.”

Santiago started working for the city as the deputy commissioner at the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Services in 2016.

Before working for the city, Santiago served 20 years in the military, including duty on four warships, with overseas tours in Belgium, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Japan. Santiago was in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Eastern Exit, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. He ended his military days in Boston onboard the USS Constitution.

“I am proud to name Robert as the next Commissioner of Veterans’ Services, taking on an important role by making sure veterans in our city are well-supported and know that their service to our country will always be appreciated,” said Mayor Marty Walsh via press release. “Robert has proudly served our nation, and has shown through his work over the last three years that his commitment to serving our veterans in Boston is unwavering.”

The Veterans’ Services office provides financial help to homeless and low-income veterans and their families. The office helps provide military burial assistance, subsidies on medical expenses and the decoration of veterans' graves and hero squares for Memorial Day. The office also leads Operation Thank a Vet, in which volunteers canvass identified Boston veterans to thank them for their service and share info about resources that are available to them from the city, state and federal government.

Santiago currently lives in Jamaica Plain with his husband.