Anna Paulina Luna is a strong independent leader, earning her stripes by serving her country, not by serving herself. Raised by a single mother in Southern California’s low-income neighborhoods, Anna learned that she must work hard and be independent to succeed.
Although never married, Anna’s mother and father separated when she was very young. Anna’s father suffered from severe drug addiction and, early on, had asked her mother to have an abortion. But Anna’s mother chose life.
As a result, Anna and her mother were on their own. During Anna’s childhood and teen years, her father struggled and spent time in and out of incarceration. Most of how her communication with him during these times was through letters to jail and collect calls. Her grandmother died of HIV/AIDS contracted from heroin use.
By age nine, Anna had experienced an armed robbery and survived. While Anna was on campus at one of the six high schools she attended, a fatal gang shooting occurred. Her young cousin was murdered while Anna was a teenager. And as a young adult, Anna was the victim of a home invasion.
These types of stories are all too common in America’s low-income, inner-city communities, like where Anna grew up.
Anna’s way out was joining the military. While serving in the United States Air Force, Anna met her husband, Andy. He is a Bronze Star recipient who earned a Purple Heart when enemy combatants shot him in Afghanistan. After recovering, Andy redeployed to fight ISIS in the Middle East.
After his injury, Anna and Andy became involved with several veteran-focused and veteran-led non-profit organizations, including one whose mission is to end child trafficking through rescue and recovery operations.
As she became more deeply involved in that work, Anna began to use her social media platform to speak out against the problem of human and child trafficking across the southern border. And she was shocked to be immediately be attacked as a racist and called “white-washed” due to her light skin – despite being a 2nd generation American and a descendent of Mexican immigrants on her mother and father’s side.
She resolved to speak out even more about the humanitarian crisis enabled by porous borders. And people began to take notice.
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