On January 22, The United States Supreme Court cleared the way for a ban on Transgender personnel in the military. What does that mean for Transgender Salesforce Ohana in & around Vetforce events? Two founders share their experiences: One is part of the Transgender community; the other is part of Vetforce. Read as we share our reasons for building this somewhat unconventional bridge between competing consulting agencies, and why it makes us stronger when we choose to work together, instead of against each other.
I’m Ashley Allen, the founder of ITequality. My first experience with the military was being told in 2005 that I was disqualified from even taking the entrance exam for 3 reasons: 1. Because I am partially blind; 2. Because I have a history of mental health issues; and 3. At the time I was underweight. I was disappointed largely because I had been tutoring people in preparation for the exam for more than a year, and I wanted to take the test so I could better help candidates. Not long after this experience, I started dating someone who was in the military, but the relationship ended in severe domestic violence. There is a lot more to this story, but to sum it up, my past experience with the military has not been the most positive.
In 2017 I founded my company with a mission to help promote awareness and visibility for LGBTQIA people. I never imagined I would be connected in any way with Vetforce. Truth be told, it was something I actively avoided due to my past. Then life threw me a curve ball when I was asked to quote a consulting engagement with a company who contracts for the military. I started panicking simply because of my past. As much as I didn’t want to turn away business, I also knew this was not a project I could tackle on my own. The fact is, I do not have industry expertise with the military or the ability to relate with the subject material, so I called someone I trusted and knew could ace this project. That was the day my partnership with Cloud Pathfinder began.
I’m Jesse Grothaus, founder of Cloud Pathfinder Consulting. My first experience with working alongside the LGBTQIA community was actually in my time with the Army under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which protected the LGBTQIA community against harassment while also barring them from service at the same time. It was an interesting paradox, but when I asked my mentors about it, they had some of the best wisdom I’ve kept close to me since then. “When anyone puts on the uniform, they’re Army green.” What this meant was that sexual orientation, religious beliefs, skin color, political leaning… none of it mattered when you put on the Army uniform. At that point, we were all American soldiers. Nothing more, nothing less.
Military members care about one thing: the mission. We become hyper-focused on accomplishing the mission as a unified team, regardless of the combination of people we have on the team. When ITequality reached out for this project, that feeling was no different. There was a mission that needed to be accomplished, and we put on a single uniform to blaze the trail for our client.
I’m someone who has punk rock music coursing through my blood, Propagandhi, Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, The Distillers to name a few. My list of personal grievances with military personnel is a mile long. I always have appreciated the military, and it is completely necessary. I also highly respect the people who do such a difficult job, which I could not. Despite all of that, I really had to do some soul searching about how to not just ‘get by’ around Vetforce members, but also respect them and what they are building.
The thoughts of gratitude that go through my mind for Vetforce is this: thank you for helping veterans transition back to civilian life in a way that is going to provide them with some of the best jobs on the market. I have seen many veterans struggle to get on their feet after leaving the military, and there are not enough resources out there. One of my closest friends was in the military, and because of PTSD he never really got off his feet. As a fierce advocate for mental health, I know beyond any doubt that someone who is already struggling with PTSD who also has to struggle just to put food on the table is far more likely to hurt the people who love them, than a person with PTSD who has a well paying job and the benefits they need to get help. For that reason I am incredibly happy Vetforce exists because the good that comes from it has a far reaching impact to all the loved ones surrounding all Vetforce members. So, to you, Veforce, I say thank you.
The standards may fluctuate on who’s allowed in or not, but a veteran is a veteran no matter what. Vetforce is open for all veterans regardless of your gender affiliation. “One team one fight” rings true for everyone.
IN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF SALESFORCE, OHANA MEANS FAMILY. IT DOES NOT MATTER YOUR BACKGROUND OR WHERE YOU COME FROM BEFORE THE MOMENT YOU ENTER THE WORLD OF SALESFORCE. WHAT MATTERS IS WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO WITH YOUR BEHAVIOR FROM THAT MOMENT FORWARD. WE TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER, WE SUPPORT EACH OTHER, WE RESPECT EACH OTHER’S UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE.