Honoring LGBTQIA+ Veterans
Every year on Veterans Day, November 11th, we honor the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces. These brave individuals have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms, often making incredible sacrifices for our country. Within this diverse and dedicated group of veterans, there is a significant population of LGBTQIA+ service members who have served and continue to make significant contributions in the workplace. Today, lets celebrate LGBTQIA+ veterans and shed light on their unique experiences and the value they bring to the workforce.
Challenges and Resilience
LGBTQIA+ individuals have faced many challenges related to discrimination and prejudice within the U.S Military system. The Human Rights Campaign sheds light on the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. A discriminatory ban on gay and lesbian service members for 17 years, prohibiting qualified gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving in the armed forces. In 2011 President Obama signed a repeal of this policy which marked a significant step towards a more inclusive and diverse military.
LGBTQIA+ veterans often face challenges during and after their military service. Many have experienced discrimination, harassment, and even expulsion because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This discrimination can take a significant toll on mental and emotional well-being. Despite these obstacles, LGBTQIA+ veterans have shown incredible resilience and determination.
Honoring LGBTQIA+ Veterans
There are many veterans who have served in the military and made significant contributions to their respective countries. A few notable LGBTQIA+ veterans include:
- Tammy Smith: In 2012, Colonel Tammy Smith became the first openly gay general in the U.S. military after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed.
- Roberta A. Scott: Scott was an openly lesbian member of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) during World War II and became one of the first people to challenge the military’s ban on LGBTQIA+ individuals.
- Grethe Cammermeyer: A former colonel in the Washington National Guard, Cammermeyer’s public coming out as a lesbian in 1989 led to her honorable discharge from the military. Her fight to be reinstated became a symbol for the LGBTQIA+ rights movement.
- Miriam Ben-Shalom: She was a lesbian who served in the U.S. Army and was discharged in 1976 because of her sexual orientation. Her successful legal challenge eventually led to her reinstatement in the military.
- Althea Garrison: An American politician, Garrison served in the Massachusetts National Guard and was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She later came out as transgender, making her one of the first transgender state legislators in the United States.
- Kristin Beck: A former Navy SEAL, Beck came out as transgender after retiring from the military. She has been an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights and transgender visibility.
- Bunny Smalls: Smalls served in the U.S. Navy and later became an activist, advocating for LGBTQIA+ veterans’ rights and working to support transgender veterans.
- Misty Plowright: An openly transgender woman, Plowright is an Army veteran and ran for political office in Colorado, becoming one of the first openly transgender individuals to run for Congress.
Veterans bring a unique set of skills and perspectives to the workplace. Their military service provides them with skills that are highly valuable and transferable to civilian employment. The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs has provided a list on what strengths a veteran can bring into the workplace:
- Working well in a team
- Having a sense of duty and responsibility for job performance and accountability
- Being organized and disciplined
- Possessing a strong work ethic
- Having the ability to follow through on assignments, even under difficult or stressful circumstances
- Possessing a variety of cross-functional skills
- Being able to problem solve quickly and creatively
- Being able to adapt to changing situations
- Being able to follow rules and schedules
Equality Careers Honors LGBTQIA+ Veterans
At Equality Careers, we are dedicated to creating a supportive and inclusive space for all, and we extend a warm welcome to LGBTQIA+ veterans. Our inclusive job board is a platform where we aim to assist veterans in their transition to civilian life. We take pride in connecting them with equal opportunity employers who deeply appreciate their military service and the valuable skills they bring to the workplace.
As we celebrate Veterans Day, let us not forget the contributions and sacrifices made by all veterans. Their resilience, skills, and unique experiences enrich the workplace and society as a whole. From Equality Careers, we thank you!